GDC Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Posted 8/30/18

Blessed Trinity coach Andy Harlin will be one of the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame's newest members.

Harlin along with Tony Boyd, George Hansen, Tony Kirkland and Monty Nagel will be inducted as part of the Class of 2019.

 

GDC Hall of Fame inducts five new members

By Tim Morse

The Georgia Dugout Club will induct five new members into its Hall of Fame. The new inductees are Tony Boyd, George Hansen, Andy Harlin, Tony Kirkland and Monty Nagel.

“All the guys are well-qualified and they deserve it,” Georgia Dugout Club Executive Secretary Harvey Cochran said. “We’ve got some more guys in waiting who are just as deserving. There are a lot of good coaches in this state.”

The five members of the Class of 2019 will be inducted at a ceremony on January 11, 2019 at the Marietta Hilton Conference Center. here a look at the five newest members.

 

Tony Boyd

East Paulding

Tony Boyd likes to describe himself as a small town guy.

So it’s no secret that the Alabama native would rather not be in the spotlight.

“Sometimes in this game, you feel like you are not really making a difference,” Boyd said. “But I guess somebody does notice what you’re doing. I’m surprised and so appreciative (of the Hall of Fame induction). It definitely means a lot.”

Boyd began his coaching career at Wills High School in Cobb County after graduating from the University of Alabama in 1983. He was an assistant in football, girls basketball and baseball, mainly coaching the freshmen and junior varsity teams for three seasons before moving over to Pebblebrook High School. Boyd coached the varsity baseball program for nine seasons and was also a football and boys basketball assistant.

He landed as the head baseball coach at Holy Innocents’ in 1995 and coached the varsity program until 2005, averaging 13 wins per season.

In 2006, he was an assistant baseball coach at McEachern before taking over the baseball program at East Paulding where he remains.

Boyd’s career record is 458-365. He has won three region titles, all at East Paulding, and guided the Raiders to 10 postseason appearances. His postseason resume includes three trips to the quarterfinals and one trip to the semifinals.

He was Region Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008, and he served as an assistant coach for the Georgia Dugout Club All-Stars in 2009. Boyd’s record at East Paulding is 240-129.

He has helped countless players get into college, but perhaps his prized pupil is current New York Mets pitcher Zach Wheeler, a first round draft pick in 2009. 

“Tony is one of those guys that you know what you are getting when you play his teams,” Carrollton coach Ryan Zaideman said. “His teams every year are well-coached and disciplined.

“He’s an excellent mentor as well. He’s a great mentor to his players. He’s one of those that even though we play in the same region, if I called him, he would try to do whatever I asked. He’s a great ambassador for the game and an even better person.”

Boyd said he values building relationships as much as he does winning.

“One of the most rewarding things is when those players come back around, and they tell you they appreciate what you did,” he said. “Those are good memories. It’s makes you feel good.”

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George Hansen

Kennesaw Mountain

The only baseball coach in Kennesaw Mountain’s history, George Hansen said he’s excited to be joining the Georgia Dugout Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019.

“It’s definitely one of those things you don’t think about until it happens,” Hansen said. “It’s definitely an honor that I could not be more excited about. It’s definitely the greatest honor I’ll ever have because it’s your peers tipping their caps to you and giving you their respect.”

Hansen has been a varsity coach for 23 seasons at Pebblebrook and Kennesaw Mountain High Schools. He served as an assistant at North Cobb under Harvey Cochran, also a member of the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame. He has a career coaching mark of 383-228

He has won four region titles and he has guided 10 teams to state playoff appearances. His Kennesaw Mountain team finished as the Class 5A state runner-up in 2005. Hansen has made three trips to the state semifinals and three quarterfinal appearances. His 2007 team was ranked fourth nationally by USA Today.

He was named the Georgia Dugout Club Coach of the year in 2007 and has also coached softball in his tenure.

He has helped more than 60 players get into college and has coached five professional players. One of those is catcher Tyler Stephenson, a first-round draft pick by Cincinnati in 2015.

“One of the things I heard Tyler say was that he’d give anything to put on a Kennesaw Mountain uniform and play just one more game,” Hansen said. “To me, that means more than any championship trophy.”

Hansen has always been known as a coach who cares about his players both on the field and away from the game.

“We all sort of felt like we were his kids,” Stephenson said. “He was a British Lit teacher and he was always concerned with how we were doing in school. He was sort of that fatherly figure that everyone looked up to.” 

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Andy Harlin

Blessed Trinity

Andy Harlin truly loved the game of baseball.

His mother, who passed away in 1999, was an avid Atlanta Braves fan who listened to nearly every game on the radio in the late 1970s. His father, who was from New York, was a die-hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan who often rode the train to watch his favorite team play.

So when Harlin, the legendary coach at Blessed Trinity Catholic School, got the call that he was going to be inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame, Harlin was thrown the proverbial curve ball.

“My jaw dropped,” he said. “Georgia in the best state in the country for baseball, and to be named (to the GDC Hall of Fame), that is a gargantuan honor.

“I went right and called my dad who is 87 years old. He and mom had a love affair for the game, and they’re the reason I love baseball so much. He is definitely my biggest fan.”

Harlin has coached at St. Pius X and spent the last 16 seasons at Blessed Trinity. He has a career mark of 568-186 and is one of 26 prep coaches in Georgia to top the magical 500-win plateau. He ranked 14th all-time in wins, and ranks seventh in the state among active coaches.

He has guided Blessed Trinity to three state titles (2006, 2014-15) and finished as state runner-up in 2016 and 2017. Harlin has won 10 region titles, named state Coach of the Year five times and is a two-time Regional Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

“I got a call from the local newspaper the other day and he asked me how I wanted to be remembered,” Harlin said. “I want to be remembered that I cared. I changed a lot from Year 1 to Year 30, just grew up and matured. But I think from 1 to 30, they got everything I had. From all the players to all the assistants, I have been one lucky dude.”

Harlin said he remains humbled.

"Coach Harlin is the consummate professional, not only on the field, but in the classroom and everywhere he goes," Blessed Trinity Athletic Director Ricky Turner said on the school’s website. "The entire BT community is blessed to have Coach Harlin."

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Tony Kirkland

Colquitt County

Tony Kirkland said he has always admired when new members of the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame were inducted every January. In 2019, Kirkland will be part of the newest group.

“Many of those guys (Hall of Famers) are guys I grew up coaching against or played against when I was an assistant coach,” he said. “I don’t want to keep using the word over and over, but it’s humbling. It’s nice to be considered part of that group.”

The longtime coach has spent the large part of his coaching career at Colquitt County. He began his career as an assistant under Jerry Croft (also a Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Famer) in 1992, and he played a key role in helping the Packers win state titles in 1997 and 2003 while playing in Georgia’s highest classification. He was the Georgia Dugout Club Assistant Coach of the Year in both of those years.

The Dothan, Ala. native, who played collegiately at Wallace College before graduating from Florida State, was also a strong defensive line coach. Under legendary high school football coach Jim Hughes, Kirkland’s defensive front helped Colquitt County win the 1994 Class 4A state championship, the state's highest classifiucation.

Kirkland got his first head baseball job in 2003 when he took over at South Effingham. He took the Mustangs to the Class 4A state semifinals in 2005. During his tenure in Guyton, Ga., he helped develop current Houston Astros standout Josh Reddick. 

But in 2009, Kirkland returned as the head baseball coach at Colquitt County where he remains. He has helped more than 45 players sign scholarships to play college baseball and five players have been drafted professionally.

His teams have won six region championships, and he has been named Region Coach of the Year seven times, four times since returning to Colquitt County. He has made five trips to the state semifinals, and he has guided his teams to the state playoffs in 15 of his 16 seasons as head coach. He has recorded 290 victories.

“I spent a lot of years as an assistant coach to a guy who won a lot of baseball games,” he said of Croft. “He prepared me for the decisions I was going to have to make as a head coach. I will always be extremely grateful that Jerry allowed myself (and former assistant) Keith Croft to do what we needed to do as assistant coaches.”  

Kirkland has been named the head coach for the Georgia Dugout Club All-Star games four times - twice from the Southeast and twice from the Southwest. In 2013, Kirkland was selected as the GDC’s Ethics and Professional Coaching Award recipient. He also served as the organization’s president in 2014.

Kirkland has coached Team Georgia in the Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma for more than a decade. 

The longtime coach is also well-respected by his peers.

“Tony is very deserving,” said Lowndes coach Rusty Beale. “To me, he is one of the greatest coaches to coach this game in the state of Georgia. He’s like a mentor. I call him all the time with questions. I’m very happy for him.”

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Monty Nagel

Metter

Monty Nagel is no stranger to the high school baseball scene in Southeast Georgia. The longtime coach retired last season from Metter High School where he not only enjoyed coaching the game but touching the lives of the young people.

“I always said if I could touch just one life, it would have been worth it,” he said. “I wanted to be a shining light, and if I could lead someone to Jesus Christ, that would be the ultimate.”

Nagel compiled a career baseball record of 204-120 in 14 seasons at Metter and nearby Pinewood Christian Academy.

“He was my gym teacher growing up, so he always made sure I was doing the right thing and he always checked in on me,” said former Metter High player Brennan Crooms who is now playing at Georgia College. “He had a lot to do with me, and he’s made me the player and person I am today.”

Nagel graduated high school from McDonough Christian Academy and West Georgia College. He started his coaching career as an assistant football and track & field coach at East Coweta High School where he coached for three seasons. He then moved to Cedar Grove where he was an assistant football and was the head junior varsity baseball coach for one season.

After the one year at Cedar Grove, he went to work with his sister who owned a mortgage company. Nagel spent five years before getting married and relocating to Metter.

He became the head football coach and athletic director at Robert Toombs Christian Academy in Vidalia, before joining Buck Cravey’s staff at Pinewood Christian. Nagel was a football assistant and the head baseball coach.

He later got an opportunity to work at Metter High where he was a baseball assistant for one year before taking the head coaching job for nine seasons.

He took a short hiatus to watch his children play in college, then took the Metter program back over in 2016. In his baseball coaching career, he had just one losing season.

He had a seizure in December, 2017 and in early 2018, Nagel battled for his life with a brain tumor that doctors later found to be benign.

He said getting inducted into the Hall of Fame is the most humbling experience of his life.

“It’s a huge honor,” he said. “To be in the company with those coaches as well as the past Hall of Fame guys, to be in their company is phenomenal.”

                 

 

 

  The Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame Class of 2019 includes (top, left to right), Colquitt County's Tony Kirkland, East Paulding's Tony Boyd, Kennesaw Mountain's George Hansen and Metter's Monty Nagel.