Hank Aldridge: Swainsboro High School

Hank Aldridge

Hank Aldridge put Swainsboro High School baseball on the state map during his tenure before the 20-year coaching veteran stepped aside in 2001.  Aldridge was inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame in 2007.

The longtime coach took the Tigers to the state baseball playoffs 19 of the 20 years in which he directed the varsity program.

Aldridge finished with a career record of 379-146-1 at Swainsboro, the only varsity program he coached. After retiring from Swainsboro, he spent a handful of seasons as an assistant at Toombs County High School before officially stepping away from high school coaching in 2011.

Two of his teams played for state titles. The 1990 squad lost to Lovett in the championship series, while the 2001 team – Aldridge’s last – lost to Gainesville in the Class AA finals. His teams won eight region titles.

The veteran coach graduated from Ware County High School in 1976 where he played football and baseball. He walked on and played college baseball at Brunswick Junior College and played on the last team in 1977. From there, he played at Georgia College in Milledgeville from 1978-80.

Aldridge, who has also been inducted into the Waycross-Ware County Hall of Fame, was perhaps known for the way his teams conducted themselves more so than the amount of games they won.

"The thing I learned from coach is that winning is good, but it's not everything," former player Rusty Brown, who succeeded Aldridge at Swainsboro in 2001, told the Savannah Morning News.

"When you're dealing with high school kids, it's not just about winning and losing, it's the way they conduct themselves on and off the field."

Aldridge served on various coaching committees to help select players for the Georgia Dugout Club’s Senior All-Star Games as well as for Team Georgia. The longtime skipper loved to win games, but he cared more about his players. Helping them get into college and become productive citizens were more important.

"You're always looking for class guys to play, and that was Hank," said former Vidalia coach Greg James, also a member of the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame. "His teams were always well-prepared and fought to the last out.

"He just cared about kids. We talk about him being a big coach, but he's a bigger man."

Some information in this article was used from the Savannah Morning News.