On this edition of the HBCU Athlete Profile, we profile a former Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Vince Coleman who attended Florida A&M University (FAMU). While at Florida A&M, Vince was a two-sport athlete playing for the Rattlers’ baseball and football team as a kicker from 1978-1981.
In 1978, Vince Coleman was a part of a Florida A&M football team that won the inaugural Division I-AA (now FCS) championship beating the University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Minutemen 35-28. In the championship game, Vince made three extra points in the game for the Rattlers. He would continue to have great success in football in college being named an All-American in 1980 and 1981.
Coleman’s defining moment in football at FAMU came in 1979 when he kicked a game-winning field goal to help the Rattlers beat the Miami Hurricanes.
In 1981, Vince Coleman set a Florida A&M baseball record for stolen bases in a season with 65 stolen bases while also leading the entire Division I in stolen bases and stolen base percentage that season.
Vince graduated from FAMU in 1982 and was inducted into the Florida A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
With opportunities to join the NFL and MLB abound at the end of his college career, Coleman ultimately decided to play baseball as he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 10th round of the 1982 MLB Draft. He would play three seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league affiliate teams before transitioning into the majors in 1985.
Vince Coleman set a rookie record with 110 stolen bases and was unanimously named NL Rookie of the Year. In the 1985 playoffs, Vince suffered an injury prior to the fourth game of the National League Championship Series sidelining him for the remainder of the playoffs. The Cardinals would appear in that year’s World Series but were unsuccessful losing to the Kansas City Royals in seven games.
He would go on to lead the MLB in stolen bases in the first six seasons of his career including 100+ stolen bases in each of his first three seasons. This makes him the only MLB player in the 20th century with three consecutive seasons of 100 stolen bases or more and the first player to begin his career with three consecutive seasons of 100 stolen bases or more.
To date, Coleman’s 109 stolen bases in the 1987 season is the time a player has recorded 100 stolen bases in a season.
Vince Coleman and the Cardinals would appear in the World Series again in 1987 this time against the Minnesota Twins but they were once again unsuccessful losing in seven games. Coleman recorded six stolen bases while also scoring on five runs, two RBIs, and recording four hits in 28 at bats.
In 1989, Coleman set a record compiling 50 straight stolen bases without being caught stealing. In 1990, he became the fastest player to record 500 stolen bases doing so in his 804th career game.
In his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Coleman recorded 549 stolen bases (second most in Cardinals history), a 82.7% stolen base percentage (highest in Cardinals history, and two All-Star appearances. He would leave the Cardinals in 1991 joining the New York Mets. He would play seven more seasons in the majors playing with the Mets, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers.
At the end of his career, Coleman finished with 752 stolen bases (sixth all-time), an 80.95% stole base percentage (top 50 all-time), nine seasons in the top 10 for triples, four seasons in the top 10 for runs scored, and four seasons in the top 10 for singles.
In 2016, Vince Coleman was elected into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and was elected into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2018.