Kevin Leighton, the very successful head baseball coach at Manhattan College for the past six years, has been named head baseball coach at Fordham it was announced by Executive Director of Athletics Frank McLaughlin.
“We are excited to find a coach with the experience and accomplishments of Kevin Leighton,” said McLaughlin. “We have a proud and successful baseball tradition at Fordham and look to Kevin, with the support of our alumni, to build on that success and the winning traditions.”
Fordham has the oldest and winningest baseball program in NCAA history. Through the 2011 season, the Rams have compiled 4,074 all-time victories, over 800 wins more than second place Texas (3,246).
Leighton, who won more than 30 games in each of his six seasons as head coach with the Jaspers, is coming off one of his most successful seasons, leading Manhattan to its second MAAC Championship and second appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Jaspers finished the season with a 34-19 record with six players earning All-MAAC honors, including the MAAC Pitcher of the Year.
Manhattan also had four players named to the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Northeast Region Team. Leighton was also honored, being named the Anaconda Sports MAAC Coach of the Year after guiding the Jaspers to the regular season crown with a 20-2 conference record.
“I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to lead such a prestigious baseball program with a rich tradition at a great school like Fordham,” said Leighton. “I am very appreciative to everyone at Fordham for giving me this opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting the program to the top of the Atlantic 10.”
In Leighton’s second year at the helm of the Jaspers, he led the team to it first MAAC championship and an appearance in an NCAA Regional as the Jaspers advanced to the regional final in 2006. Manhattan won 34 games that year, including three wins over nationally ranked opponents, most notably, #6 Nebraska in the NCAA Regional. Leighton was recognized that year as the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Northeast Region Coach of the Year.
Leighton, the third winningest baseball coach at Manhattan in the program’s 142 years, has a 200-119-1 career record as head coach. He has mentored 51 All-MAAC recipients since joining the program in 2002, including 32 First Team selections. During his tenure, four Jaspers were named MAAC Pitcher of the Year, two earned MAAC Rookie of the Year honors, one was selected MAAC Player of the Year and one was recognized as MAAC Relief Pitcher of the Year. Additionally, two Jaspers received All-America honors and seven were named Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans.
Eleven players Leighton has coached have advanced to the professional ranks, and four currently play within a MLB organization.
Manhattan’s baseball success wasn’t limited to the playing field as 49 Jaspers earned MAAC All-Academic status since 2006. In 2008 Manhattan was honored with an NCAA Public Recognition Award for ranking in the top-10 percent of all Division I baseball programs in the multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) report.
In 2008 and 2009, the Jaspers won back-to-back MAAC Regular-Season Championships with Leighton being named 2009 MAAC Coach of the Year after Manhattan tied a program record notching 35 wins with one of the most powerful offenses in conference history. The 2009 Jaspers finished fifth in NCAA Division I and set the conference’s single season record with a .349 team batting average. Manhattan also set MAAC records with 657 hits and 130 doubles in a season.
Leighton guided the 2008 Jaspers to the program’s first MAAC Regular-Season title since joining the league in 1982. In 2007, the Jaspers set a school record with 35 wins, and advanced to the MAAC Championship game for the third time in the previous four seasons. The team also tallied a program-best 21 MAAC wins, including a 19-0 start to the conference season. Manhattan compiled a 16-game overall and 15-game road win streaks, both of which were tops in Division I at the time.
Prior to taking over as head coach, Leighton served as an assistant coach at Manhattan from 2002-04.
Leighton arrived in Riverdale after a standout four-year career at Seton Hall University. He helped the Pirates to back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances in 2000 and 2001. In 2001, he helped guide the Pirates to the Big East Championship, the program’s first title since 1987.
Leighton earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Seton Hall in 2001. He completed his master’s degree in administration and leadership in education at Manhattan in 2005. The Brewster, N.Y., native was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1997.