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Beyond the Diamond: Commemorating the Legacy and Impact of Coach Danny Price



credit: FIU Athletics

Tomorrow Florida International University will welcome back and honor one of the most legendary sports figures in South Florida, Coach Danny Price. Price is set to throw the honorary first pitch in the second game of a doubleheader as the Panthers take on Notre Dame. This marks Coach Price’s first appearance on FIU’s baseball field since 2007. For 28 years, Coach Price oversaw the evolution of FIU baseball into a consistent winner, amassing over 1,000 wins. He also played a pivotal role in the team’s transition from Division II to Division I baseball and helped the Panthers move from being an independent team in the 1980s to joining the Trans America Athletic Conference in the 1990s, before landing in the Sun Belt Conference in 1999. Beyond his impressive track record of wins and building baseball programs in South Florida, there is much more to Coach Price than just wins and losses. In an exclusive interview with LifeWalletSports, Coach Danny Price offered special insight into his life, his background, and what truly matters to him.

Coach Price’s early love for baseball began playing in Little League and various church leagues, where the game quickly became a passion. In high school, under the guidance of an incredible football coach Gene Worthington, Danny’s passion for sports grew exponentially. Coach Worthington became a significant figure in Danny’s life, and instilled in him the values of hard work and perseverance, qualities that Coach Price admired and carried into his own coaching career.

Reminiscing on Coach Gene’s influence Coach Price stated “You know, you would run through a wall for him, and everybody would. He was an incredible coach. He always inspired us. Every Friday night, when I played on varsity, he would say he wished he could play that night, that he’d give his left leg to be able to play. Of course, I always thought, ‘Man, that’s kind of crazy.’ But, as I grew older, I really respected him a lot. He was an incredible coach.” This foundation of hard work and passion for the game through the influence of a mentor who believed in his players, played a crucial role in shaping Danny Price’s approach to sports and coaching.

His high school football coach was not the only influential figure in his early years, Coach Price also attributes his work ethic to influences from family and educators. His aunt taught him the value of exceeding expectations through a simple act of fetching water where he learned a lesson he never forgot. “When working in the garden of my grandfather’s farm, my aunt asked me to fetch half a pail of water using a bucket, as we had no water hose. She advised, “Always bring a little more than you think I need.” This early lesson, when I was just five or six, taught me the value of exceeding expectations—a principle I’ve embraced throughout my life, always striving to do more than what’s anticipated of me.”

Another important moment occurred with his seventh-grade teacher, Mrs. Kearns, who held him back a grade level to improve his reading. Coach Price talked about how this teacher mentored him, loved him, encouraged him allowing him discover the importance of personal growth and perseverance.

” Years later, I was running a camp in North Carolina when her [Mrs. Kearns] daughter came up to me. She said, ‘My mother always told me I had to come see you. She said that you were her favorite student in her entire life.’ You know how much that meant to me. It meant a lot because she cared enough and loved me enough to say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do.’ She always had a big smile on her face. You know, I saw love in that teacher, and I loved that lady.” Coach Price stated, reflecting on that heartfelt encounter.

These early experiences, combined with the hardworking example set by his mother and the encouragement from key figures in his life, molded Price’s dedication to hard work, his care of others, and the pursuit of excellence.

Coach Price’s entry into head coaching wasn’t through the usual route of applications and interviews. Fresh from an internship at Central High School, where he had begun to make connections and immerse himself in the coaching world, a surprising opportunity knocked at his door. It was the encouragement and recognition from the coaches and staff he met there that led to an unexpected offer: a direct invitation from the principal to take on a job offer to join the coaching staff at Miami Central High School.This serendipitous moment marked the beginning of what would become a storied coaching career, a career that he did not seek or apply for.

“I got the Central job without applying. I landed a position at FIU without submitting an application, and Miami Dade pursued me, requiring me to undergo their process. It’s astonishing to reflect on how I’ve obtained positions without ever applying, while the jobs I did apply for eluded me. It’s quite the paradox, Coach Price indicated.

Looking back on Coach Price’s success with the Panthers one might think he hit the ground running on day one. Despite the fact that he experienced on field success early on, there were significant challenges that he had to navigate. Price faced substantial financial and logistical challenges at FIU, starting with a modest travel budget of $35,000. As the Panthers moved from Division II to Division I the baseball team struggled to garner the resources of top tier programs in powerhouse conferences. Florida International’s fortunes dramatically changed upon joining the Sun Belt Conference, soaring to $107,000, facilitating improved travel, and accommodations and marking a pivotal shift in the program’s dynamics.

Operating under tight constraints, Price’s strategic recruitment approach, with just a $4,000 budget, contrasted sharply with the more substantial funds typical of other programs whose recruiting budgets were well north of $20,000. Despite this, Price was undeterred, he continued to coach, recruit and was a force when it came to fundraising. His creativity in maximizing limited resources through effective recruitment and fundraising ensured FIU’s competitiveness and developed the DNA for a culture of hard work and success. “The university never bailed out the baseball program because we fundraised all year, doing whatever was necessary, including tasks we preferred not to do. Our team worked at the Orange Bowl, parking cars and more, to ensure we did everything needed to succeed.”

During his 28 years as FIU’s head coach, Coach Price achieved an outstanding 1,086-597 overall record, making him the winningest coach in FIU’s history. His leadership led FIU to eight NCAA Division I regional appearances, with six in the latter 11 years, showcasing sustained excellence. Price earned three Trans America Athletic Conference Coach of the Year awards, recognizing his remarkable impact on the team’s success and development. In 1995, the Panthers were the 8th ranked team in the nation, leading the team to the quarterfinals of the Atlantic II Regional.

After his tenure at FIU, Coach Price embarked on a new chapter at Miami Dade College, where he amassed a 298-160 win-loss record and led the team to four Southern Conference championships in 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2019, narrowly missing out in 2018. His leadership also propelled the Sharks to national prominence, securing the runner-up position in the 2014 National Junior College Athletic Association.This era highlighted Price’s consistent excellence and competitive spirit, further cementing his illustrious coaching legacy.

With 1384 total wins, 43 years of coaching experience on the baseball diamond and postseason success with both Florida International University and Miami-Dade, one would think that Coach Danny Price’s legacy is that of a winner. Although he is a winner, that would be under selling the impact that Coach Price has had in the community. After his baseball days ended, he joined foundations in Florida and the Dominican Republic, focusing on leadership development, life skills, and enhancing the lives of aspiring ballplayers through education and athletics. His involvement with “Leaders Unlimited” and “Dream Big” reflects his commitment to using sports as a vehicle for positive change and personal development.

Coach Price has been humbled by the impact that the foundations he partnered with have had, especially the opportunities that it has given kids to follow their dreams. “One of my former players, Joe Rodriguez, reached the big leagues and warned me that once I visited the Dominican Republic for the “Dream Big” project, I might never want to leave because of the humble people there. He was right. I became involved in helping many student-athletes secure opportunities in junior colleges in the United States, often visiting during summers and sometimes in winter, staying for a few days to assist them. This experience allowed me to guide these young individuals to improve their lives through education, emphasizing the importance of doing things the right way, including learning English to integrate better into new environments. Over the years, this work has left me with lasting memories and a deep connection with those I’ve helped.”

Helping others, mentoring, and making a difference in the life of almost 5,000 players and their families is the real legacy of Coach Price. In fact, he was almost dismissive of his accolades, focusing more on the lasting relationships that were forged. “Forget about the wins and losses because that wasn’t what it was about. It was about how many people affected my life. I had guys affect my life, you know? And sometimes you think you’re just affecting other people. That’s not true. It’s a two-way street”, Coach Price asserted. For Coach, it was always about people and finding ways to connect and reach different personalities. He valued the individuality of his players, understanding that their reactions to coaching methods vary. He acknowledged that while some may respond to a raised voice, others need a gentler approach, emphasizing the importance of adapting his style to meet each player’s needs. Price’s commitment to his players extended beyond the field, as he made personal efforts to ensure their well-being, stressing his belief in the power of hope and the impact of direct, caring communication.

At heart he was a teacher, and the baseball diamond was just an opportunity to teach. “To me, a baseball field, a football field, a basketball arena, or a soccer field—regardless of the sport—is just another classroom. These environments teach kids so much, often providing the only discipline they really receive, making them larger-than-life classrooms.”

Tomorrow when Coach Price walks on the field for the Panthers the first time since 2007, he will be introduced and recognized for the accolades that he received as a baseball coach. What will not be mentioned is that his true legacy goes beyond mere wins, losses and tournament championships. For Coach Price his legacy will not be quantified or measured by statistics, it will be one of uniquely touching and transforming the lives of thousands of players. “I’ve had many players who didn’t make it to the Major Leagues but made it to the Majors in life, which is even more important. It’s about the kind of person you become, the kind of family man you are, the relationships you build in your community, and how you give back.”

Thank you, Coach Price, no one gave back more than you and that is why your legacy of love will transcend sports.

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