The Mulerider baseball team honored long-time head coach Steve Goodheart following the 2011 homecoming football game on October 15 when the name of Mulerider Field was officially changed to Goodheart Field.
Goodheart, who built the Southern Arkansas baseball program into a national power, retired in 2003 after serving 23 years (1981-2003) as head coach. Easily the most wins in school history, his Muleriders won 764 games, lost 416, and tied five, for a .647 percentage. Goodheart’s 764 wins places him second all-time among collegiate coaches in the state of Arkansas behind only the University of Arkansas’ Norm DeBriyn, who retired in 2002 with 1,161 wins in 33 years as head coach of the Razorbacks.
Goodheart, who operated with a non-scholarship program for approximately 15 years, guided his Southern Arkansas teams to nine AIC championships, including six consecutive from 1986-1991, eight NAIA District 17 titles and two area championships. He led the 1983, 1987 and 1991 teams to the NAIA World Series, with his ‘87 squad finishing third in the nation, posting an impressive 46-7 record, the best finish ever for an SAU team. Goodheart also oversaw the baseball program’s transition to the Gulf South Conference and NCAA Division II in 1996.
More than 50 of Goodheart’s former players signed to play professional baseball. He coached 54 first team All-AIC players, 26 first team NAIA All-District selections, five NAIA All-Area players, 12 NAIA Southwest Region selections, 17 NAIA All-Americans, 33 first team All-GSC choices, 11 NCAA All-Region picks, and two NCAA All-Americans.
Goodheart was chosen AIC Coach of the Year seven times and NAIA Area V Coach of the Year twice. In 1984, he was selected as one of five coaches to evaluate talent in the region for selections on the 1984 USA Olympic baseball team.
In Goodheart’s final eight seasons competing against the GSC West Division, his Muleriders finished runner-up seven times to established NCAA II powerhouse Delta State University. His record against Division II opposition was even better than against NAIA members, recording 287 wins, 126 losses, and two ties for a .694 percentage from 1996-2003.