Cochran a great ambassador

Posted 8/19/2020

Georgia Dugout Club Executive Director Harvey Cochran, left, and GDC Hall of Fame member

David McDonald pose for a photo. Cochran passed away early Wednesday morning. He was 72.

 

Cochran a great ambassador for the game

 

The calls began early, about 3:30 in the morning to be exact.

As the news slowly surfaced that Georgia Dugout Club Executive Director Harvey Cochran had passed away during the early morning hours on Wednesday, Nicholson was answering many texts.

As the GDC President, Nicholson had to confirm the sad news.

"A lot of people asked if it was true and unfortunately, I said yes," he said.

The news stunned state baseball coaches, parents and former players. The legendary coach who seemed to have more energy than the Energizer Bunny, had passed away. He was 73.

Cochran won more than 650 baseball games in his 42 seasons of coaching at Brown, North Cobb, North Atlanta and Mount Paran Christian before retiring after the 2012 season. But his work off the field is where he perhaps made his biggest mark. As the Executive Director, he helped tranform the Georgia Dugout Club into one of the nation's top high school baseball organizations in the nation.

"Today is an incredibly sad day for not just me personally, but for all the current and former Georgia high school baseball coaches across the state and nation," Nicholson said. "Coach Cochran meant so much to high school baseball in this state.

"He built the Georgia Dugout Club into what it is today and it will be our duty to make sure we carry his legacy on to continue to grow the Georgia Dugout Club per his vision."

 

Word spread quickly

By 8 a.m., a handful of high school coaches began posting tributes on social media. And condolences continued throughout most of the day.

Most talked of Cochran's love for the game, his no-nonsense approach and the lives he touched of former assistants and players.

"Harvey was very influential for baseball statewide, nationally and internationally," said longtime Jonesboro High School coach and current Georgia High School Association Associate Director Don Corr.

"He has touched so many coaches and players over the years. I owe a lot to Harvey for my growth as a coach and person. Harvey will be missed but not forgotten."

Cochran gave Allatoona head baseball coach Keith Hansen his first job as an assistant when he led the North Cobb baseball program. Hansen has never forgotten his mentor.

"Icon, legend, HOF all words used to describe Harvey Cochran the coach, but most importantly he was a father, grandfather, husband, mentor, ambassador and friend," Hansen tweeted. "I love you and we are all praying for your family."

 

Impressive resume

Cochran is one of six coaches in Georgia High School baseball history to record 650 or more victories. His career record is 682-348. The bulk of his success came during his 35 seasons at North Cobb where he guided the Warriors to seven region championships.

The school named its baseball field "Harvey Cochran Field" in 2013. His No. 40 jersey was also retired.

In his career, Cochran won a total of nine region titles, 12 region runner-up titles and captured four Georgia Dugout Club tournament titles. He won 571 baseball games at North Cobb.

Not only is Cochran a member of the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2015.

“I love coaching high school baseball," Cochran told the Marietta Daily Journal. "It’s baseball at its purest form.”

He also coached softball at North Cobb and his teams won two region crowns and two Cobb County championships.

He also served for four years as the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association state baseball chairman, four years on the National High School Baseball Coaches All-American selection committee, 10 years as President and Treasurer of the North Cobb High School Foundation and more than 35 years as the Executive Secretary of the Georgia Dugout Club, a position he had held since 1978. His title was changed to Executive Director three years ago.

"He was as vital and plugged in to baseball in this state as anybody," former Lassiter coach Mickey McMurty told the Marietta Daily Journal. "He was a wonderful person, and you can’t deny what he did for high school baseball.”

Cochran coached Team Georgia to the USA trials and coached the USA squad to a silver medal. He took squads to Australia, England, France, and Germany for games and was on the committee to host the World Baseball Games in Atlanta.

“If anybody (deserves to be in the hall of fame), he does,” former Wheeler coach David McDonald told the Marietta Daily Journal. “(With the Georgia Dugout Club), he has brought baseball recognition in this state. The top 100 program, over 440 high schools — it’s a major task to do what he does every year.”

A side of humor

Many of Cochran's peers said he could be stubborn. Former Atlanta Journal-Constitution sportswriter Stan Awtrey shared a handful of stories about the legendary coach on social media.

"It's summer and you have to scratch around for things to write about," Awtrey said. "Harvey was hosting a clinic for kids. I arrive and Harvey is throwing BP. Kid, probably 9 or 10, digs in and harvey nails him in the back. Harvey looks at me and winks. 'Little sucker hit one against the fence last time. Got to learn respect.' "

Awtrey then continued with another story.

"Another time North Cobb is playing in a region tournament. Harvey makes a mound visit and he’s barely had a seat when the pitcher gave up a long home run. Afterwards, Harvey said , 'that’s on me. As soon as I told him not to throw that kid a curveball, I knew I’d blown it. That kid is dumb as a brick and I knew he was going to throw a curve ball."

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized. While it was a tough day for Georgia High School baseball coaches and supporters, nobody grew tired of talking about Cochran's legacy.

"When I was in the GISA at Southland Academy in Americus, Harvey always answered my calls when I needed him, helping me grow and develop as a coach," Nicholson said. "In a world full of selfish people, Harvey was one of the most unselfish when it came to high school baseball in the state of Georgia. Words can not describe how much he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Linda and the Cochran family."