Longtime Dunedin baseball coach Hilbert steps down

DUNEDIN — Tom Hilbert, one of the winningest baseball coaches in Pinellas County history, has resigned to take a position at St. Petersburg College.

“I resigned as head coach of Dunedin on Wednesday,” Hilbert wrote in a text message sent Friday morning. “Telling the boys was the toughest thing that I’ve ever had to do.”

Dunedin’s leader in the dugout of 16 years will now serve in a volunteer advisory position with the SPC baseball team. SPC is coached by one of Hilbert’s former players and assistant coaches, Ryan Beckman.

Hilbert graduated from Dunedin High in 1988, playing under another longtime Falcons coach, Greg Nichols, the man he eventually replaced following the Class 5A state runner’s up season of 1997.

Prior to taking over at Dunedin, Hilbert’s first head coaching job was at Dixie Hollins High in St. Petersburg.

Once reunited with Dunedin, its reputation as one of the Tampa Bay area’s most prestigious baseball programs never wavered under the Hilbert’s watch. The Falcons qualified for postseason play in 13 of the past 16 years.

Hilbert’s 14 playoff wins are the most in school history, with none being bigger than the 2006 season’s ultimate game. The Falcons brought the state championship back to Dunedin for the second time ever and first since 1964.

Along with coaching up a consistently winning team on the field, Hilbert helped continue and grow another of Pinellas County baseball’s annual traditions – the Dunedin High School Spring Baseball Tournament.

No replacement has been announced by the school and those interested in applying for the position are asked to contact Dunedin High Assistant Principal Eric Allen. The school’s main number is (727) 469-4100.

Hilbert exits after guiding Dunedin to back-to-back Class 5A District 12 titles.

“This is a great opportunity for me and I had a great 20-year high school run!” he wrote.

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