In 1992, a former minor league baseball player, whose career was unfortunately cut short by injury, decided to move to the Loveliest Village on the Plains and begin a new chapter in his story.
After 28 seasons of coaching baseball, three state championships, and over 550 wins, long-time Auburn high baseball coach Matt Cimo reaped the fruits of his labor last month as it was announced that he was being inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“I'm just thrilled to death and very lucky,” said Cimo. “I’ve been able to stay at one place for a long time, with great staff and great players surrounding me.”
The journey to the Hall of Fame began in high school, where Cimo excelled in both basketball and baseball. He then went on to play college baseball at Eastern Illinois, winning an NCAA Division II national championship before being drafted after his junior year by the San Francisco Giants.
Cimo spent nine years in the minor leagues before suffering a career-ending injury. He then moved to Auburn where he began both his teaching and coaching career. Nearly 30 years later, he still loves the city and the school.
“It’s just a great place to raise your kids,” said Cimo. “I’m constantly surrounded by great people, great students and a great community.”
In his time coaching at Auburn, Cimo has led the Tigers to back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010 before notching a third title in 2018. Despite the success of his teams, Cimo points the credit to his players and staff.
“I think a big part of our success has been our players being unselfish," he said. "They have learned that the more you give the more you end up receiving.”
Cimo also credited much of his success to his assistant coach, Tommy Carter, who he said has been a huge part of the program.
Cimo also made sure to mention his two children, Allie and Tanner, both of whom spent numerous hours supporting their dad. Tanner would end up playing under his father as the starting second baseman during the 2009 and 2010 championship seasons.
After nearly 30 years coaching with the success Cimo has had, some coaches might be tempted to call it a career, but that is not in Cimo’s sights at all.
“I eat, drink and sleep baseball,” said Cimo. “There is nothing more rewarding than coaching and teaching these young kids. They teach me just about as much as I teach them.”
Cimo is preparing to enter season No. 29 as the head coach of the Tigers, as they are set to face off against Helena this Saturday at 11 a.m.
"I'm so excited we've got a great senior class who are very unselfish, great leaders and love to compete," he said. "My junior class is super and ready to help for a positive season."