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1927 Thomas 2022

Thomas Petroff

January 27, 1927 — August 22, 2022

If there’s a field of dreams in heaven, Tom Petroff is coaching there today.

Petroff, the legendary college and amateur baseball coach, died August 22, 2022 from natural causes and complications. His wife Barbara and daughter Ruth Ann were at his side. He was 95.

Born as Anastas Andon Petroff to Macedonian immigrant parents, “Tom” grew up in Lansing, MI and excelled as a young athlete. At the end of WWII, he served as a US Army Occupation Forces ammunition bearer in Berlin where he represented his division in basketball, baseball and football. Later he played minor league baseball. Six years as the Michigan State University freshman baseball coach while working on his physical education degrees began his life-long coaching career.

Petroff’s long list of success is highlighted by stints at Rider University (Broncs) and the University of Northern Colorado (Bears). He led both schools to the NCAA Division I World Series. As the architect of Colorado’s most successful baseball program, Petroff coached at UNC from 1970-1985, guiding the Bears to six NCAA Division I playoff appearances. He was named American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) 1971 National Coach of the Year.

While at UNC, Petroff also developed an educational physical sensory program for the hearing impaired. The effective concept formed the foundation of Petroff’s unique baseball instruction.

A world-known clinician, Petroff conducted skills clinics in 40 states and six foreign countries and coached various USA baseball teams from 1972-1987. He was The Netherlands head coach in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. As Director of Instruction and Coach, Petroff also aided the national team in qualifying for the 2000 Olympics.

Petroff also spent time as Director of Field Operations for the Detroit Tigers. Along the way, Petroff served as a professional scout for the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers. A 67-year member of the American Baseball Coaches Association, he served as president in 1984 and on the board of directors from 1984 until his death.

He’s a “Who’s Who” among members of numerous Hall of Fame inductees, including the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, the ABCA Hall of Fame and others.

Former New York Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez once called Petroff “a man’s man,” adding “he’s as smart as any baseball man I’ve ever met.” Petroff received the Lefty Gomez Award in 1974, given each year to an individual who has contributed significantly to the game of baseball locally, nationally and internationally.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations be made to the Tom Petroff Baseball Fund (scholarship) through the University of Northern Colorado Foundation at www.give2unc.org/petroff. A celebration of Petroff’s life will take place in Greeley, Colorado and will be livestreamed to a location in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The celebration will also be made available to remote attendees. Updated time, date and details will be posted at TomPetroff.com.

Arrangements are by SimpleChoice Cremation Services, Chambersburg, PA. Online condolences may be expressed at www.simple-choicecremation.com.
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