Some numbers cause the eyes to blur. There's Cy Young's career wins total, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak and the reading of the radar gun when Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds comes into a game.
Sometimes the eyes can't fathom the numbers behind the name of Ashland University baseball coach John Schaly either.
On Apr. 15 at Saginaw Valley State, Schaly won the 900th game of his career. His current record is 905-462-1. This is his 24th year as a college baseball coach.
When Schaly arrived back from Saginaw Valley State after that weekend, he found that his office area was decorated with W's, 900 to be exact. Schaly's wife, Becky, had put the W's up throughout the Kates Gymnasium area. The W's were color coded, for example, 208 were in the school colors of St. Leo, where Schaly coached before he came to Ashland.
Schaly is in his 14th season at Ashland where he is 542-244-1. No baseball coach has won more games at AU. At Ashland, Schaly has guided the Eagles to the NCAA playoffs 11 times, including each of the last five seasons. The Eagles look to be in line for another postseason trip – they are currently ranked third in the region. Under Schaly, AU has won 40 or more games in a season seven times. With Schaly in the dugout, the Eagles have won five GLIAC championships, four regional titles and made four trips to the NCAA Division II World Series.
Ashland is Schaly's third stop as a head coach. He began his head coaching career at Berry (Ga.) where he started the program. In four years there (1988-91), he was 155-91. Schaly never won less than 35 games there and three times the school advanced to the NAIA playoffs.
Before coming to AU, Schaly spent six years as the head coach of St. Leo. His teams won 40 or more games twice at the Florida school and at one point, the Monarchs were ranked first in the country. His 1996 team was 42-15 and went to the NCAA Division II playoffs. That marked the first time the Monarchs made that trip in 18 years. Schaly was 208-127 at St. Leo.
At Ashland, Schaly has constructed a program that's the envy of teams around the country. His 2002 team won a school-record 48 games. The top 10 single-season win totals in Ashland history have been recorded by Schaly-coached teams. Five times, Schaly has been recognized as the GLIAC coach of the year. Under Schaly, seven Ashland players have won the GLIAC player of the year award and three hurlers have been recognized as the GLIAC pitcher of the year. Three AU players coached by Schaly have been tabbed the GLIAC freshman of the year.
Schaly's teams have re-written the AU record book. But the program's strength goes beyond numbers on a page. The university has upgraded AU's home field – Donges Field – to the point where it is a first class playing facility. This spring, a state-of-the-art press box was added.
Ashland's program is known for the ability to teach and bring players along so they reach their full potential. The Eagles have a junior varsity program that plays a full schedule each year. Under Schaly, AU has expanded its recruiting and now, in addition to recruiting heavily in Ohio, has become a presence all around the country.
Schaly's numbers figure to keep growing. He's not close to retirement and there's no talk of leaving the field to go in a different direction. Also, piling up wins is something of a family tradition. Schaly's late father, Don, won 1,442 games as the head coach of Marietta College, the younger Schaly's alma mater.