MOUNT VERNON – Mount Vernon Nazarene head baseball coach Keith Veale has been selected for induction into the NAIA Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020, announced on Monday morning by the NAIA.
“Thank you so much to those who took the time and made the effort to nominate me for this outstanding award,” said Veale. “Thank you to those on the committee for recognizing what we have done here at Mount Vernon. A special thank you to my wife Toni, and my children, Elyia and Kodi, who sacrificed and shared in this wonderful journey.
“I have been privileged and blessed to spend my career at a Christian, NAIA University. To be able to coach baseball in an organization like the NAIA which values the development of character and honors institutions of faith has always made the NAIA appealing to me. There are just some really good people in the NAIA.”
Veale is by far the longest-tenured baseball coach in Mount Vernon Nazarene history, and has amassed an impressive track record of success with the Cougars. Over a 30-year career at the helm for MVNU baseball, which began in 1990, Veale has a record of 1,016-525, a winning percentage of .659. He is one of eight active head coaches in the NAIA with 1,000 or more career wins, and is seventh in the NAIA among active coaches in career wins.
Veale is one of 33 active coaches at four-year institutions with over 1,000 career wins, and is one of only two coaches with 1,000 career wins currently active in Ohio, joining John Schaly of Ashland.
Veale’s MVNU teams of the 1990s were some of the best seen in the NAIA in that time span, and were the class of the American Mideast Conference. The Cougars won the AMC every year from 1995 to 1998, a four-year span of dominance in which the team would go to the NAIA World Series for the first time in program history.
In 1996, Veale’s team ended the season with a 43-3 record, and their .935 winning percentage still stands as the NAIA record for a single season. Veale’s 1997 team reached the NAIA World Series, the height of that era of dominance.
Veale led the Cougars to four more AMC titles, winning the league in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2011, while again reaching the NAIA World Series in 2004. Veale’s teams won the AMC Tournament in 2010 and 2011 before departing for the Crossroads League.
MVNU won the Crossroads League Tournament in 2012 to continue their run of success; the Cougars then won the regular season and tournament Crossroads League championships in 2014, followed by another conference regular season title in 2015. In that span, MVNU reached the opening round of the NAIA Baseball Tournament each year from 2010 to 2015. Veale also led the Cougars to five NCCAA World Series Championships, winning that tournament in 1995, 1996, 1997, 2005 and 2008.
In total, Veale has had 23 seasons with 30 or more wins, and six seasons with 40 or more wins. Veale has coached 10 NAIA All-Americans in his career, including NAIA Player of the Year Andy Heimbach, and has seen eight players selected in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
In total, Veale has had 14 players go on to play professional baseball. Veale has also seen some of MVNU’s greatest individual performances, including Levi Curry’s perfect game against Cedarville on March 26, 2008, and Heimbach’s perfect game against Malone in 1999.
Veale’s success on the field was vindicated time and again by his fellow coaches, who bestowed many Coach of the Year awards to him. Veale was named AMC Coach of the Year eight times, winning the award every year from 1994 to 1998, then winning three more times in 2003, 2004 and 2007. Veale has been named Crossroads League Coach of the Year twice, in 2014 and 2015, and was named NAIA Region Coach of the Year three times, in 1996, 1997 and 2007.
Beyond his on-field accomplishments, Veale has been a treasured member of the MVNU community for over 30 years, and has had a positive impact on hundreds of MVNU student-athletes. Veale’s teams have been noted for academic excellence and Christian character. The combination of those attributes and a culture of success has led to MVNU baseball’s staying power as a top NAIA program over the last 30 seasons, due in large part to the leadership of Keith Veale.
“So many players, assistants, and colleagues have made this a rich and meaningful career,” said Veale “Coach [Sam] Riggleman was my college coach and spiritual mentor. He modeled and mentored me in those early days of my career. I could not have been more fortunate. When I reflect, I can see God’s hand and direction at every turn. I make my plans, but he has directed my path.”
Veale has fulfilled a variety of roles at MVNU. Veale first served as head volleyball coach in 1983, leading the team to a 20-11 record in his one season. He also served as head men’s soccer coach in 1988, as the head softball coach from 1987 to 1989, and as campus intramural director from 1979 to 1988. Veale served as MVNU’s athletics director from 2014 to 2017, and is an assistant professor of physical education. He was inducted into MVNU’s Wall of Fame in 2007.
Veale talked about his attachment to Mount Vernon Nazarene: “MVNU has been a special place. I have spent my entire professional career here in Mount Vernon, Ohio. To coach at one institution for one’s entire career is not the norm. But when institutional values align with your personal values, it provides a greater purpose and peace of mind.”
Beyond his service to MVNU, Veale and his wife Toni have resided in Mount Vernon for over 30 years. They have two grown children, Elyia and Kodi.
With Veale’s membership in the NAIA Hall of Fame, Mount Vernon Nazarene will boast four members of that prestigious hall. Longtime MVNU administrator and coach Lora Donoho, after whom MVNU’s Donoho Recreation Center is named, was inducted in 1986 as the first MVNU member of the hall. Tim Belcher, the number one overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft in June of 1983 and stellar pitcher for the Cougars, was inducted in 2004. Current MVNU head women’s volleyball coach Paul Swanson, another coach with over 1,000 wins at MVNU and who had the Ariel Arena court named after him last season, was the last Cougar inducted in 2008.
Veale joins a NAIA Hall of Fame Class of 2020 packed with coaches. Union (Tenn.) women’s basketball coach Mark Campbell, Georgetown (Ky.) football coach Bill Cronin, and Rio Grande (Ohio) men’s soccer coach Scott Morrissey will all join the Hall of Fame as coaches with Veale this year. The class is rounded out by Nick Dodson, a track and field athlete from Shorter University (Ga.); Ross Wurdeman, a football player from Concordia University (Neb.); and Stan Harrison, who is entering on meritorious service to Tennessee Wesleyan University.
“Keith Veale has quietly influenced generations of baseball players at MVNU,” said Dr. Henry W. Spaulding II, president of Mount Vernon Nazarene University. “He has poured his life into those who played for him. His expertise and passion for athletics has made a major contribution to the University. I would like to congratulate Coach Veale on his induction into the NAIA Hall of Fame.”
“MVNU is a better place because of Keith Veale’s influence and example,” said Tracy Waal, vice president for student life at MVNU. “He is a man of strong moral character and has earned the respect of many both on and off campus. He is dedicated to pursuing excellence, building strong character and seeing personal growth in his players. He has influenced hundreds of lives through his years at MVNU. His players and colleagues have the utmost respect for him and often seek his wisdom and knowledge in situations. He is truly an outstanding coach, professor, colleague and friend.”
“I am very thankful for Coach Veale’s commitment to MVNU and our Athletic Department,” said MVNU athletics director Chip Wilson. ‘He has had tremendous success on the baseball field, but his investment in developing young men in his baseball program has been the most impactful. He is very deserving of this honor. Thank you Coach for your continued leadership at MVNU.”
Veale will be inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame during the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention, to be held Jan. 2 to 5, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. Former MVNU baseball player Brandt Miller will also be honored at the ABCA Convention for his 2019 Rawlings NAIA Gold Glove award. Further information about Veale’s induction will be announced at a later date.