Former Fresno State baseball coach Bob Bennett still struggling in hospital, but there are signs of hope


FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The winningest coach in Fresno State baseball history continues to struggle in a Fresno hospital, after a heart episode on Tuesday forced him into a coma.

Bob Bennett, winner of 1,302 games in 34 seasons leading the Bulldogs, has been hospitalized since Monday according to his son, Todd, who posted about his father on Facebook.

Todd Bennett wrote that his father went to the hospital to have a device implanted in his heart that is used to prevent a stroke. He said the procedure went well, but while his father was recovering, his heart stopped.

Luckily, a doctor and nurses were nearby, and they were able to get Bennett’s heart beating again after about 15 minutes.

“Right now we are in a holding pattern,” wrote Todd Bennett on Facebook on Wednesday night. “As long as he remains stable, they will try to wake him up (Thursday) or Friday. That is when we will find out if he is going to regain consciousness and, if so, if he experienced any brain damage from the event.”

On Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m., Bennett’s grandson Jeff Prieto, a former player at Fresno State under his grandfather and the current head baseball coach at Clovis North, said in a text message to Sports Central that Bennett was still in coma, but in a follow-up text a couple hours later, Prieto sounded a little more optimistic, saying Bennett remains “in stable condition,” and is “showing some signs of improvement.”

In 34 years at the helm, Bennett took Fresno State to two College World Series, in 1988 and 1991. His teams went to 21 NCAA Regionals, hosting eight of them, and they won 17 conference championships. Bennett was also a standout catcher for the Bulldogs in the 1950’s.

Before that, Bennett graduated from Fresno’s Roosevelt High School in 1951, and after his graduation from Fresno State in ’56, he took over as head baseball coach at Kingburg (Calif.) High School. In two seasons, his teams compiled a 41-19 record. In 1958, he moved on to Fresno’s Bullard High School, where the Knights posted over 200 victories in his 11 seasons.

Bennett retired from Fresno State in 2002. In a 2016 ceremony, Fresno State’s home ballpark was renamed “Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium” as a way to honor their legendary coach.

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