GDC to induct six new HOF members

Posted 8/25/19

Marist head baseball coach Mike Strickland will be one of six inductees into the

Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020.


GDC Hall of Fame Class of 2020

By Tim Morse

Six new members will be inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Baseball Hall of Fame at its annual Coaches Convention on January 10, 2020 at the Marietta Hilton Conference Center.

The Class of 2020 includes Columbus State University head coach Greg Appleton, former Toombs County head coach Steve Janousek, North Paulding head coach Dennis Jordan, the late Dennis Payne, Marist head coach Mike Strickland and longtime First Presbyterian Day coach Jim Turner.

“We feel like this an excellent group,” said Georgia Dugout Club Executive Director Harvey Cochran. “All the guys are well-qualified and they deserve it.”


Greg Appleton
Columbus State

Greg Appleton is most successful baseball coach in Columbus State history.

And the legendary coach has the resume to prove it.

In 22 years of leading the Cougars, he has guided CSU to an NCAA Division II national title in 2002 and national runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2018. In addition, he has taken teams to the postseason 11 times and made four trips to the Division II College World Series. He has also guided the Cougars to two Peach Belt Conference regular-season championships and three tournament titles. His career coaching record with the Cougars is 803-430.

“Being a lifelong resident of Atlanta, playing high school, college and coaching only in Georgia, being recognized by the Georgia Dugout Club is the highest honor for me," Appleton said. "When I look at the names of the coaches in the GDC Hall of Fame, it is very humbling to join this group."

Before taking over the Columbus State baseball program, Appleton restarted the Young Harris baseball in program in 1994. He compiled a 127-74 mark in four seasons.

His overall career coaching record stands at 930-504 entering the 2020 season. He was born in Chicago but is a lifelong resident of Atlanta.

Appleton’s 2002 national championship team finished the season with a 48-15 record. The Cougars lost in the opening game of the NCAA Division II College World Series to Central Missouri, but they rebounded to win five straight games, including three in their final at-bat. CSU topped national power Cal State-Chico 5-3 in the national championship game.

In 2007 his squad set a school record for wins in a season with a 51-19 mark, advancing to the national championship game before falling to Tampa.

He has been named National Coach of the Year once in 2002. He was also named the South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year in 2007 and the Southeast Regional Coach of the Year in 2018.

Before his days as a collegiate head coach, Appleton was the pitching coach and played a key role in helping Georgia win its only national baseball championship in 1990. As an assistant, he also helped the Bulldogs win the 1987 Southeastern Conference title as Georgia made the NCAA College World Series.

After playing for UGA from 1981-84, Appleton served as a graduate assistant at the university during the 1985 and ’86 seasons.

“I would like to be remembered as a competitor that prepared my team to play their best," Appleton said. "I want my players know they were the source of my success.”


Steve Janousek
Toombs County/ABAC

Winning was important to Steve Janousek. But teaching his players morals, values and how to play the game the right way were more important.

“I just wanted to do things the right way,” Janousek said. “That’s what I tried to do … try to get kids to go to class and emphasize academics. Then I wanted to treat everyone equally. I tried to work kids hard and get them in shape.”

Janousek was not only a successful high school baseball coach in Georgia, he succeeded at the collegiate level as well, spending 15 seasons as the head coach at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. He guided Toombs County to the Georgia High School Association Class 1A state championship in 1996.

A native of Gwinnett County where he played at Central Gwinnett High, Janousek was a standout pitcher who signed with Middle Georgia College in 1980. However, he was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1980 before he suffered a torn rotator cuff. He played for Middle Georgia from 1980-82 (he was redshirted in 1981). He helped the Warriors to Junior College national titles in 1980 and 1982 when the program went a combined 110-6.  He transferred to Georgia College and played under GDC Hall of Famer John Kurtz where he graduated.

In 1984, he was captain on the Bobcats’ team that made the NAIA World Series.

After a successful college career, he landed at Treutlen High School in 1986 as an assistant. He got his first head coaching job at Wheeler County in 1987 and spent seven seasons before landing as the head baseball coach at Toombs County in the fall of 1994. He spent three seasons in Lyons before moving into the college ranks as the head coach at ABAC in 1994 where he remained until 2012 when he stepped away.

“Here’s what I think about Steve Janousek,” said former Swainsboro head coach Hank Aldridge, also a GDC Hall of Fame member. “He’s the ultimate competitor. Whether it was tiddly-winks or hunting, he was the ultimate competitor and he always did it with a lot of class.”

Janousek won a combined 531 games while coaching high school and collegiate baseball.

“I’m so humbled and honored,” Janousek said. “Looking at the list (of GDC Hall of Famers), there are several people in there who I competed against. I’m happy just to be nominated, but to be put into the Hall is just an honor.”

Both of Janousek’s college coaches – Robert Sapp (Middle Georgia) and Kurtz (Georgia College) – are both members of the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame.

“It’s quite an honor to be in there with those two guys,” he said. “I’m just honored.”  


Dennis Jordan
North Paulding

To say Dennis Jordan was a bit surprised to be inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame is an understatement.

"I'm thankful and blessed," said the North Paulding head baseball coach. "Shocked may not be the right term. I'm blessed to be able to share the same stage with some of the guys I've coached against."

Jordan graduated from Tennessee in 1982 and the longtime North Paulding and Walton head baseball coach got his start as an assistant at South Cobb High in 1983 under the late Frank Worthy, also a Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame member.  

In 1986, he got his first head baseball job at Walton where he also was a football assistant. Jordan's teams were some of the best in Cobb County and the state. From 1986-2002, he coached the Raiders. They won the school's first state baseball title in 1992. He guided the program to two state runner-up finishes in 1991 and '96, three trips to the state semifinals and six region titles in Georgia's highest classification.

He was named Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Region Coach of the Year six times, Atlanta Braves 400 Club Coach of the Year twice (1991, '92) and he coached Team Georgia in the Sunbelt Classic from 1992-95.

In 2002, he took over as head baseball coach at Kell and was a football assistant for two years. He became Director of Baseball Operations for East Cobb Baseball from 2005-2012 before taking over as head baseball coach at North Paulding in 2012.

His overall coaching record stands at 493-196 and he has taken teams at North Paulding to three quarterfinal appearances.

Jordan has extensive experience coaching travel baseball. Since 1995, he has coached the East Cobb Astros 15U team and served as an instructor. He was an assistant on the 16U AAU squad at East Cobb that won the AAU national title seven times, while his 15U team won national titles every year from 2006-2011.

He also guided travel teams to national titles in 2010 and '11, winning the Perfect Game BCS/WWBA.

"I've been fortunate to be around a lot of high-character people," Jordan said. "Hopefully, along the way, I've done something right."


Dennis Payne
Marietta Umpires Association

Dennis Payne's impact on high school sports in Georgia can't be measured. The longtime umpire and member of the Georgia High School Association spent more than 40 years as an ambassador for high school sports.

Payne passed away February 25, 2019.

Born February 27, 1946 in Pell City, Ala. to William and Edith Payne, he played football for the University of Georgia from 1962-64. He worked for many years on the railroad as an engineer for CSX Transportation.

Payne later went on to provide valiant service in Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps from 1966 to 1972.

After retiring, he spent more than 40 years involved in amateur sports. He began his career as an official in baseball, basketball and football in 1972.

Payne, with the help of David Hudson, started the Marietta Umpires Association in 1986 after having noticed a lack of umpires during the 1985 season.

He was hired as an Associate Director for the Georgia High School Association in 2001 where he was a sports coordinator for football, baseball, wrestling and swimming. He retired after the 2014 football season.

"He was a first-class individual and a very good person," said Georgia Dugout Club Executive Director Harvey Cochran, who formed a friendship with Payne when he was head baseball coach at North Cobb.

"Dennis had a lot of integrity and he did a lot of good things for high school baseball."


Mike Strickland

Mike Strickland has a photo of himself attending a youth baseball camp when he was nine years old. The three coaches with him in the picture were Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame coaches Hugh Buchanan, Julian Mock and Harry Lloyd.

“Maybe I knew at nine years old what I was going to do,” said Strickland, who described himself as an average baseball player while playing high school at Roswell High School in the late 1980s.

The Roswell native who has been head baseball coach the past two decades at South Forsyth and Marist, will be part of the GDC Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

“It really doesn’t seem real,” said Strickland, who has a career coaching record of 453-235-10. “It’s one of those things where I’m honored and humbled at the same time. I’m honored because I know the caliber of men in the Hall of Fame. I’m humbled because I know there are some who deserve to go in before me who aren’t in there.”

After graduating from Roswell, Strickland attended the Citadel where he did not play baseball. He returned during the summers and coached Roswell High summer league teams before graduating from college.

“When I knew I was not going to be able to play anymore, I was going to coach,” Strickland said.

His first job was in his hometown at Independence High School, an alternative school, and he was as an assistant at Roswell High under longtime coach John Coen until Coen retired in 1997. When he wasn’t offered the head job, he concluded a busy summer by landing at South Forsyth. Strickland stayed there until 2005. He guided the War Eagles to three region titles, a semifinal appearance in 2003 and a quarterfinal trip in 2004. He left with a career coaching record of 111-93-9.

Strickland took over at Marist in 2005 and has been there since, leading the War Eagles to state titles in 2010, ’11 and ’17 as well as runner-up finishes in 2006 and ’13. He has led Marist to six region titles, two trips to the state semifinals (2007, '09) and a quarterfinal appearance in 2012.

He has also spent time coaching USA Baseball. He coached in the 2014 15U trials and was an assistant on the 2015 15U National Team that won the WBSC gold medal. He was head coach of the 2016 15U National Team that captured a bronze medal.

Known as a player’s coach who builds relationships beyond the game, Strickland credits a good part of his success to The Citadel.

" The Citadel and my close knit family had the greatest impacts on my coaching career," Strickland said. "From my family, I learned about faith in God and unconditional love and from The Citadel, when you experience that kind of leadership laboratory environment, it gives you an understanding of what makes a team work and how leadership impacts the development of your relationships that are the foundation of your program.”


Jim Turner

First Presbyterian Day

It's hard not to talk about First Presbyterian Day baseball or softball and Jim Turner's name not surface. The legendary coach spent 33 seasons mentoring young players with all but one spent at the Macon private school. His lone season away from FPD came during the 2003-04 season when he coached at Houston County.

"I feel very fortunate," Turner said after learning he would be inducted. "When you see guys like Bobby Howard, Bob Jones, Harvey Cochran, some of those guys in the Hall of Fame, I'm blessed. It's something I dreamed would happen, but one of those things you don't have control over. You work as hard as you can and leave it in the Good Lord's hands. Fortunately, it happened."

A standout shortstop at Lanier High in Macon, he attended Georgia on a scholarship and was the team captain in 1973. He was drafted in 1974 by the Reds and played in Billings, Montana and Seattle. After his pro career ended, he spent seven seasons working for Campus Crusade for Christ.
A devout Christian, Turner said he knew coaching was his calling.

"God was very specific," Turner said. "I had been reading Romans 12:1-2 and he told me he wanted me to be a coach who was different from the world. It's been my calling to be a coach who is not conformed to the world."

Turner's career included a 370-216 record on the baseball diamond, including 10 region titles and state championships in 1992 and 2010 in the Georgia Independent Schools Association. His teams finished as state runner-up in 1986 and 1993. He was 10-time region coach of the year and two-time state coach of the year. In 2013 and 2014, his teams won region titles as members of the Georgia High School Association, which FPD joined in the fall of 2010. He retired from coaching baseball in 2014.

His softball record was 257-105 in 12 seasons, which included seven region titles and eight visits to the state semifinals. Four of his teams played for state titles.

Three of his region champion softball teams (2013, 2014 and 2015) were won in the GHSA. He retired from coaching softball after the 2015 season, then stepped away as an FPD faculty member in the spring of 2016.

Turner said relationships and influencing his players for Christ were more important than winning titles.

"I had a player text me one day who had played for me in 1983 who told me his daughter was getting married and he didn't know how to feel about it," Turner said. "Having an influence on him 35 years later is still important to me."

Sy Jones, the head baseball coach at Coffee, was an assistant coach under Turner. He said the longtime coach wasn't afraid to think outside the box.

"When I think of Coach Turner, it's all about the relationships," Jones said. "He is a romantic and baseball lends itself to those kinds of people.  He has a passion and nuance for the game, like making sure the game is played the right way. He was never afraid to be superstitious or think outside the box.

"He built relationships often by using his favorite gift of Twizzlers, stuff like that. He knew the game beyond the average high school coach."