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The all-time baseball wins leader will coach the Hurricanes.

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


In the three years since legendary Dunedin baseball coach Greg Nichols announced his retirement, Bob Heintz, the former athletic director at the school who now is at Palm Harbor University, has jokingly asked him when he would be ready to come back.

Heintz used the same approach a few weeks ago, thinking he would get the same answer.

This time, though, Nichols said yes.

Nichols, Pinellas County's all-time winningest coach who retired in 1997 after coaching 28 years and winning 545 games, decided to return as the Hurricanes coach.

He takes over for Ken Clawson, who stepped down earlier this month citing health reasons.

"It's going to be very different being in another uniform," Nichols said.

"But I think it's a great opportunity. I'm excited as a teacher and a coach."

Nichols never had any intention of returning to coaching. He was a math teacher at Indian Rocks Christian, was in charge of building a home for Habitat for Humanity and was a sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the past three years.

But he was looking for another teaching position. That's when Heintz called.

He said there was an opening, but because Nichols wasn't an internal candidate, he would have a better shot of getting the job over other transfer teachers by coaching.

"Coaching gave Greg some leverage, and he was interested in coming here," said Heintz, who worked with Nichols as athletic director at Dunedin from 1987-1995.

Nichols takes over a team that had the best season in its four-year history. The Hurricanes went 14-16 and reached the Class 4A region semifinals. There also is a solid nucleus with seven seniors returning next year.

"I'm impressed with the school, and the athletic program is great overall," Nichols said.

"This is something that's got me going again."

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