MTSU baseball coaching legend Steve Peterson passed away on Wednesday at the age of 68.
A family spokesperson said a private funeral ceremony for family only will be held, but plans are to have a Celebration of Life that will be open to the public in the near future.
Peterson is MTSU's all-time winningest coach, leading the Blue Raiders to 791 victories in 25 years at the helm. He was an assistant coach for the late John Stanford for six seasons and continued the great tradition of baseball of his predecessor.
The Blue Raiders won 11 regular-season titles, nine conference tournament titles and competed in nine NCAA regionals, including two as an at-large selection, under Peterson.
"Coach Pete went by every NCAA rule and did it the right way," said former Blue Raider and current Siegel baseball coach Craig Reavis. "He did things the right way. I learned everything from him -- how to run a practice, how to put in the work.
"He worked on the field, he worked for the program all the time. He was the model for me to how you run a program. A great man. It's surprising. He was in good health, but I guess things like this just happen. He touched so many lives."
Peterson won 944 games during his career, which included being the head coach at Roane State. His MTSU teams won 30 or more games 16 times and a program-record 44 in 2009.
Peterson is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2016), the Blue Raider Hall of Fame (2010), Huntsville-Madison County (Ala.) Hall of Fame (2009), the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Rutherford County Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame (2003).
"I think one of the best ways to describe him is he was always about the players, whether on the field, off the field, in the classroom and just helping them," said former MTSU coach Jim McGuire, who was an assistant under Peterson for 20 seasons. "He was always so vested in everything they did, and they knew that. I think that's why a lot of them have gotten where they are now. He just loved his players.
"There are just so many different phases of our relationship and my development. I came here not knowing him. Initially, he was strictly my boss and then he became a mentor, and then the friendship really developed. It's almost like he was more my father or brother at the end. He was very impactful in everything I've done in my life. Luckily, with some Hall of Fame things (for me) recently, I've gotten to thank him in front of everybody, and that meant a lot to me.
"I would joke with him when the grandkids starting to come and the whole mindset with that. We worked a lot of long hours and we missed things. He really enjoyed retirement and everybody worried about that, including myself, but he really embraced it and having that family made him enjoy that much more."
Peterson is survived by his wife, Rita, daughter Jill (Morgan) Wright, son John (Myranda) Peterson, daughter Jenny (Brock) East and several loving grandchildren.