Grosse Pointe South baseball coach Dan Griesbaum, far left, is pictured with members of his family after getting his 800th career win this past season. Griesbaum recently completed his 35th season leading South’s program.

Grosse Pointe South baseball coach Dan Griesbaum, far left, is pictured with members of his family after getting his 800th career win this past season. Griesbaum recently completed his 35th season leading South’s program.

Photo provided by Dan Griesbaum Jr.

Grosse Pointe South baseball coach near the top of career victories list

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 2, 2018


GROSSE POINTE FARMS — In the 1970s, there was a young man on Central Michigan University’s baseball team by the name of Dan Griesbaum.

That young student-athlete had a couple of careers he was considering pursuing.

Griesbaum was a good enough player to be selected as Central’s MVP his senior season in 1975.

He thought he might want to pursue a career as a professional baseball player, but “the good Lord said, ‘no, I don’t want you doing that.’”

A career as a collegiate coach seemed to be yet another possibility, but  “again, the good Lord said, ‘no, I don’t want you to do that. This is what I want you to do.’”

As it turned out, what Griesbaum was “meant to do” was be a teacher and a high school baseball coach.

After serving as an assistant on Frank Sumbera’s staff at Grosse Pointe North, he got his first head coaching opportunity at Grosse Pointe South in 1984.

Griesbaum has been in that position ever since, and after recently completing his 35th season, his accomplishments have included helping lead the program to two Division 1 state championships and to at least the semifinal round of the playoffs eight times.

Before winning a state championship June 16, Griesbaum joined some rare company when got his 800th career victory. The Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee now has 810 wins, which is seventh on the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s all-time list.

“The Lord blessed me with being able to get into Grosse Pointe in 1979,” Griesbaum said. “It’s been just a great relationship ever since. … There’s no doubt in my mind that teaching and coaching was what I was meant to do. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do it for so long.”

Griesbaum is a graduate of St. Clair Shores South Lake, and earlier this year, he was inducted into the St. Clair Shores Athletics Hall of Fame.

He is also a National Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

As is the case with so many who have achieved at a high level, Griesbaum hasn’t gone it alone.

Aside from having “great, great assistants,” he acknowledged the support he has received from his family, athletic directors, principals, South’s dugout club, parents, kids, and a “great” administration and community.

Although it’s not an official title, the word counselor could also aptly apply to Griesbaum’s job description.

There are real-world issues that high school students deal with, and he is in a strong position to help impact lives.

“We’ve never been just about wins and losses,” Griesbaum said. “I learned a long time ago that your job as a coach is not just teaching baseball skills and winning games and championships. It’s about teaching life skills. We try to do that through baseball.”

One of the players who has received tutelage from Griesbaum is Cameron Shook. He just finished his senior season and helped lead the team to the state title. 

“He’s been absolutely instrumental in my development, not only as a baseball player, but as a young man,” Shook said. “He’s really done a lot for me, personally, a lot for this program, a lot for this school, and a lot for the team. And for that, I’m forever grateful for (him).”

If not for a decision his son made in the mid-1990s, Griesbaum may not have had the opportunity to coach players such as Shook.

Griesbaum lives in the North school district, and up until late July in 1995, it seemed as though his son, Dan Griesbaum Jr., was going to enter his freshman year of high school at North, which would have meant suiting up for the Norsemen’s baseball team.

Had his son made that choice, Griesbaum said, he “probably would’ve been Frank Sumbera’s assistant to this day, because there was no way in the world I was not (going to) watch him play.”

Although Griesbaum said he “didn’t pressure him at all,” his son eventually decided to go to South.

Griesbaum said his favorite time at South was when his son was playing. 

After graduating from South in 1999, Griesbaum Jr. went on to play at Central Michigan as well. Past his own playing days, he’s been an assistant on his dad’s squad for more than a decade.

He was with his dad on May 26 when he got his 800th win after South beat Plymouth High. But for as special of an accomplishment as that was, had his dad chosen to do things differently, Griesbaum Jr. thinks that 800th win could have come even sooner.

“It’s very important to him that we have a difficult schedule every year,” Griesbaum Jr. said. “It’s important to him that we carry as many players as we’re able to on our team, and giving as many players as possible a chance to play. … If he would’ve taken a path of lesser resistance, it’s pretty conceivable to say he would have quite a few more than that.”

It isn’t likely that Griesbaum would want to change too much of the journey that has led him to this point.

“It could not have worked out any better,” Griesbaum said. “It’s just been a great, great 35 years; just tremendous with the tradition that’s been built up over that time.”