GDC Hall of Fame Class of 2022

Posted 9/13/2021

Retired McEachern High School baseball coach Carl Roland will be one of six inductees into the

Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022.

 

GDC Hall of Fame Class of 2022

By Tim Morse

The Georgia Dugout Club will induct six new members into its Hall of Fame at its annual Coaches Convention on December 10, 2021 at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel & Convention Center.

The Class of 2022 includes former McEachern head coach Carl Roland, former Bowdon coach Stan Davis, former McNair coach Dion Williams, former Landmark Christian and Douglas County head coach Phil Williams, former Middle Georgia College coach Craig Young and the late Jim Simmons, who recently coached at Statesboro High School.

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Stan Davis
Bowdon

Stan Davis has never cared to talk about himself nor his achievements.

When he received the call that he would be inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022, the legendary coach, teacher and administrator was surprised.

“Obviously, it is a huge tribute to be selected for the hall of fame,” he said. “I think back on all the names and faces that are attached to this award—players, assistant coaches, administrators, parents, and community leaders and I wish there was some way to recognize everyone.  The Georgia Dugout Club has had a huge impact on baseball in the state of Georgia and to be selected in this group of esteemed coaches is a true honor.”

Davis’ coaching career was a short but effective one. The Bowdon High School coach averaged more than 21 wins per season during his tenure from 1991-2003. His resume includes 10 region playoff appearances. His teams finished in the quarterfinals five times (1997, ’98, ’99, ’01 and ’02) and semifinals four times (1997, ’98, ’01 and ’02). He guided three of his teams to state runner-up finishes in 1998, 2001 and 2002.

He was named Region Coach of the Year four times and Class 1A Coach of the Year in 2002. His teams were always ranked in the Top 10 of the high school polls and he ended with a career record of 275-103.

He also coached on Dwight Hostetler’s football staff for 7 seasons and helped the Red Devils to 7 state playoff appearances which included three semifinal trips, one state runner-up finish and a state championship in 1992.

Davis later became an administrator in Carroll County before serving as assistant superintendent in Hart County from 2008-2012. He later served as the associate superintendent in Carroll County from 2013-2014 and superintendent at Banks County Schools for five years before retiring in 2019.

“Stan was one of the most innovative guys I’ve ever been around in how he conducted practice,” said current Temple High School assistant Ryan Zaideman who coached under Davis at Bowdon. “He was doing multiple stations (in practice) before it became popular. He was always thinking outside the box, and he was certainly one of the best in the business at developing players. He spent hours in the offseason developing guys, doing rep after rep. He was very meticulous and very detailed in how he pushed and challenged his players.

“He not only wanted the best for his players but for his coaches as well. I would not be where I am today had it not been for him.”

Zaideman, Jay Sneddon, Mark Huggins, Andy Michione, Jonathan Ghastley, Ralph Sanders, Mike Striplin, Ken Webb, Jeff Herren, Larry Weaver and Jon Bilon are some of Davis’ former assistants. Some of his former players to turned into coaches include Chris Brown, Chuck Robinson, Mark Huggins, Tyler Meigs, Stephen Mitchell, Evan Hochstetler (football), Nic Jones (football), Clarence Prothro and Weaver.

“Coaching at Bowdon was a very special time for me,” Davis said. “I was very inspired to watch a group of kids learn to take on challenges both mentally and physically while doing it with a sense of commitment and pride that impacted our community.  It was amazing to watch them come together as a team and work to succeed.  I was honored to be a part of the players’ lives—watching them grow into young men.

"The baseball field served not only as a place to compete but as an extended classroom for all of us to learn how to build integrity, work ethics, honesty, selfishness, tenacity for success and friendship.  It was a unique time in my life.  A time I will cherish forever.”

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Carl Roland
McEachern

At the time, it may have seemed like it was not a big deal.

But to Carl Roland, those relationships with his former players are worth more than gold.

The longtime McEachern High School coach whom many credit for building the struggling program into a baseball power during his tenure, will be inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022.

“I’ve had many of them stay in contact with me,” said Roland, who is battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. “When I first got my diagnosis, one of my former players Tracy Dean put together a little get together for us. I think there were something like 80 or so people that showed up that night. That meant a lot.”

Roland probably impacted many of his former players as much as they did him.

From 1976 to 1994, Roland guided the Indians to four region baseball titles, five region runner-up finishes, a state baseball championship in 1987 in the state’s largest classification and finished with an overall coaching record of 313-148.

During his time, only one team from each region made the state baseball playoffs.

In his 17 seasons at McEachern, none of his team finished with a losing record. His 1979 team was the first program at the school in any sport to win a region title in 17 years.

Roland also coached softball at McEachern from 1980-2005. His teams won six region titles, made five trips to the state semifinals and his teams twice finished as the state runner-up. He had one losing season in 25 years as the softball coach, yet that team still finished eighth at the state tournament.

His overall softball record was 400-253, giving him 773 combined wins between the two sports.

“Carl’s teams were always very well-coached and very well-prepared,” said former Osborne coach Donnie English, a member of the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame. “You knew when you played him, you had better be ready.”

Roland still enjoys the game as evidenced by the stories he tells.

“I remember this game in 1979 when we were playing at Osborne … it was 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh and Osborne had the bases loaded and no outs. I kind of laughed and told our guys, ‘ We’re in a mess aren’t we?’

“We brought in five infielders and we kept battling. We scored two in the eighth, then they scored one in the bottom of the eighth. The tying run got thrown out at the plate trying to score. But what else could we do? There was no sense in going out there and crying about it.”

English praised Roland not only for his coaching ability, but the way he molded the McEachern baseball program into a power. He said the school’s current baseball facility was built by Roland and his staff.

But the legendary coach won’t take all the credit for his success at McEachern. He said he coached the junior varsity for one season before taking over the varsity.

“A lot of those guys when I took over the varsity, they had played with me before,” Roland said. “So they were ready to roll. It was the relationships not only with them but all the players that I coached.”

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                                                                                        Photo courtesy of Scott Bryant/Statesboro Herald

Jim Simmons
Effingham County/Statesboro

Jim Simmons’ legacy goes beyond the coach of the year awards and the championship trophies. His impact on the game and its players can’t be measured.

“He was a great coach, but an even better person,” former Statesboro High player Dake Williams told the Statesboro Herald. “Having him around us helped to mold us all to who we are. It was great to have him as a coach, but he would talk to you about a lot more than just baseball.”

Simmons passed away from bladder cancer on March 12, 2021.

Born in Atlanta, the Georgia native coached both baseball and softball during his career after graduating from Georgia Southern where he played baseball. He got his start at Effingham County High School where he was an assistant baseball coach from 1990-93. A year later, he was named the head coach at the school where he remained until 2005. He won 193 games and won two region titles.

He left Effingham County and became the assistant baseball coach at Statesboro High School from 2006-11. In 2012, he took over as head coach and led the program until he retired after the 2020 season.

He guided Effingham County to two region titles and five trips to the state playoffs during his tenure.

At Statesboro, he took the baseball team to the postseason six times.

He finished his overall coaching career with a record of 310-252-1.

In addition to being head baseball coach, Simmons was head softball coach from 2009-19 and helped lead the Lady Blue Devils to four straight state playoff appearances. His 2019 team at Statesborto won the region title.

“I was given a note from Coach Simmons at the same time I got my diploma,” former player Jena Coble told the Statesboro Herald. “He said that the note had something written on it that I had taught him through my four years of playing for him. He always had a way with words, and I know that he is taking care of every baseball and softball field up in heaven right now. We know you have now made it to your forever home.”

Simmons was inducted into the Effingham County High School athletic Hall of Fame in 2020.

Coaches and peers also enjoyed working under Simmons. When Russ Winter, a former assistant at Statesboro, was named the head baseball coach at nearby Portal High School in 2019, he called Simmons “the most knowledgeable baseball coach in Georgia” according to local media outlets.

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Dion Williams
McNair

Dion Williams doesn’t care about talking about his achievements and accomplishments during his coaching days.

When a reporter called the longtime DeKalb County high school baseball coach to congratulate him on his induction into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame, Williams was somewhat surprised.

“It’s hard for me to talk about myself, so I’m glad it’s something they told you,” said Williams, a former McNair High School baseball coach and DeKalb administrator.

“I did it for the kids. I thought it was the right thing to do.”

In just a little more than a decade at McNair, Williams turned around a struggling program that had never had a winning season. He guided them to three region titles and six state playoff appearances. His 1997 squad was ranked atop the Class 4A poll for 17 weeks, while his team in 1996 finished fourth in the final Class 4A poll.

"He was a competitor and he made me a better coach," former Redan coach Greg Goodwin, a GDC Hall of Fame member said. "When you were playing Dion's teams, you better be prepared. It didn't matter if he had great kids or average kids, they were going to battle you."

But Williams' legacy went beyond wins. He helped 12 players get drafted and 25-plus players signed collegiate scholarships. His overall record was 200-92 from 1990-2001 before he went into administration and worked at several DeKalb County schools.

His father was professional baseball player George “Boomer” Scott and Williams followed in his father’s footsteps and played professionally as well after he was an all-conference performer at Mississippi Valley State. After his playing career, he scouted some for the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998).

But Williams’ drive for helping coach and develop young baseball players didn’t go unnoticed.

 “I was the director of the Little League baseball program at Gresham Park and when Dion took over at McNair, that was a school that nobody wanted to come to,” said Williams’ longtime friend Bernard Pattillo. “McNair never had a winning baseball season and they had discipline problems. Dion came in and said since they weren’t winning anyway, he wasn’t going to put up with any bad attitudes.

“We saw changes at the high school and since we were their feeder system, we approached him and told him about our program since nobody (at McNair) had ever really came down and saw the kids. Dion came down there and got to know everybody on a first-name basis. He turned that McNair program around and people started getting college scholarships and some got drafted. It made the kids want to go play for Dion.”

Williams’ son, Deion, was an All-American at Redan High and played for the Washington Nationals. He runs a baseball academy in Gwinnett County and he and Dion Williams continue to do some baseball instructional leagues.

"Coach Dion Williams's legacy lives on every day through the many, many lives he impacted while he was at McNair High School,” said Parkview head baseball coach Chan Brown, a longtime friend. “Many of Coach Williams' players have gone on to coach in either high school baseball or travel baseball. Coach Williams taught young men to be great at everything they did through the structure and discipline of his baseball program he ran day in and day out.

“But the thing about Coach Williams is that many of his players will attribute their success through the relationships and love that he had with his players. Coach Williams comes from a family of baseball. He brought many lifetime experiences to the table when he was coaching at McNair. Due to his experience, his intensity and his discipline, many of his teams won a lot of baseball games. But at the end of the day, I think Coach Williams is most proud of all the successful young men in the world that he was able to have an impact on.”

But Dion Williams would rather keep that to himself.

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Phil Williams
Douglas County/Landmark Christian

Carl Roland knows that every time he sees Phil Williams, he’s going to hear about one game in particular when the two coaches used to coach baseball against each other nearly four decades ago.

“He tells everybody this story,” the former McEachern High School coach said of his Douglas County High rival. “Back in the mid 80s, they were hitting balls all over the place and over the fence and beating us 9-2. So over the next four or five innings, we had everybody bunt and they had trouble fielding bunts and throwing us out. I don’t think we hit two balls out of the infield, but we ended up coming back and beating them 11-9.”

Roland said it was one of the few times an opposing coach ended up on top of a Williams-coached team.

The longtime Douglas County High and Landmark Christian coach made his mark both as a head baseball coach and a head football coach. But he said it was baseball that got him into coaching.

In 27 years of coaching baseball, Williams compiled an overall record of 437-286-3. His teams recorded seven region titles and his 2008 and 2009 squads at Landmark Christian finished as the Class A state runner-up. He was named Region Coach of the Year five times and named state coach of the year three times by the Georgia Dugout Club. On two occasions, he was chosen to coach in the Georgia Dugout Club’s Senior All-State Games.

His resume also includes several football honors as both a head coach and an assistant coach.

He retired from coaching baseball in 2013.

Getting inducted into the GDC Hall of Fame caught him off-guard a little.

“I really hadn’t thought about it a lot until it happened,” Williams said. “I’m grateful they didn’t forget about me, and I’m excited for the opportunity.”

David McDonald, the Executive Director of the Georgia Dugout Club, also coached against Williams. He said Williams probably could have had more titles but only one team from each region advanced to the postseason back then.

“Phil always had some great teams back when he was at Douglas County,” said McDonald, the former Wheeler High coach also in the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame.

“His teams were always very competitive and his players always played the game at a high level. No matter if they had a good record or not, you knew you were always going to get their best shot.”

Williams’ career includes coaching at Douglas County, Lithia Springs and back to Douglas County before spending his final seven seasons at Landmark Christian. He played professional baseball in Italy for eight months and also went to spring training with the Montreal Expos in 1975.

‘People used to always ask me which sport I liked the best,” Williams said. “Playing baseball is what I knew the best.”
And he has the resume to prove it.

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Craig Young

Middle Georgia College

Scott Sims still considers Craig Young a great friend.

But that didn’t stop the former South Georgia State College coach from wanting to beat his friend when the two faced each other in junior college baseball play.

“All of the coaches in the league got along very well,” said Sims, a Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Famer. “He was a guy you liked to try to beat, but I didn’t have very good success against him.”

Sims will watch his good friend join him in the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame later this year.

After a 22-year career which includes a 761-380 coaching record and four trips to the National Junior College Division I Baseball World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado, Young couldn’t be happier.

Four years ago, the former Middle Georgia College and ABAC coach was inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Hall of Fame. But there’s something about getting inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall that made Young smile.

“It’s always an honor to be selected to something like this,” he said. “But where your peers decided, it just seems to mean a little more.”

The Blairsville native was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball and baseball at Union County High School. After accepting a football scholarship to Liberty University, he returned to Georgia on a baseball scholarship at Georgia Southwestern State where he was named the Team MVP in 1985.

After college, he was the head baseball coach and assisted in football at Elbert County High School before returning to Georgia Southwestern where he was a football and baseball assistant coach and earned his master’s degree.

His first head coaching job in the junior college ranks was at ABAC in Tifton where he led the program for six years before taking over at Middle Georgia where he led the Warrior baseball program for six years.

Young continued Middle Georgia’s dominance in the junior college circuit, leading the Warriors to the world series in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2009.

“I was extremely blessed and very fortunate to follow some guys like Robert Sapp who had already set a precedence,” Young said. “We were fortunate to get good players and I was obviously blessed to have gotten the players I had.”

Young helped 48 players get drafted by professional teams. The list includes All-Star Josh Reddick, J.B. Wendelken, Kyle Farnsworth and Willie Harris.

His achievements include NJCAA Region 17 Coach of the Year five times (1993, ’99, ’01, 02, ’12), NJCAA East Central District Coach of the Year four times (’01, ’02, ’04, ’09) and ABCA Region Coach of the Year five times (’99, ’01, ’02, ’04, ’06).
In 2012, he was awarded the NJCAA’s 20-year service award for his time with the association.

The longtime coach credited his many assistants, managers and administrators who helped him. He also served as the athletic director at Middle Georgia from 2000-2003.

One of his former players at ABAC was Scot Hemmings, the current head baseball coach at Albany State. Not only did Hemmings play under Young, but he also coached against him when led the Darton College program before it merged with Albany State in 2017.

“I have the utmost respect for coach Young,” Hemmings said. “The two years I played under him at ABAC, he taught me so much about the game. His energy and passion is what made me want to have a career in coaching.”

Young is still involved in the game as a referee and umpire with the Emerald City Officials Association and he also speaks to various civic groups, youth sports and school groups.