A moment that has been anticipated for a year will finally arrive for Ashland University baseball coach John Schaly.
Actually, it's a moment that has been a lifetime in the making.
On Friday (Jan. 5) at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Schaly will be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, joining his late father, Don, as just the second father-son duo in the Hall's ranks.
"It makes me think a lot about Dad and wishing he was still around, especially for my mom (Sue)," said Schaly. "She is a major part of both of us. There's one other father-son duo in the Hall of Fame, so for us to be the second means a lot to us, no question about it."
Don Schaly was the head coach at Marietta College where John is a member of the school's Hall of Fame. The Pioneers won the NCAA Division III national championship in 1981 with Don at the helm and John as an All-American second baseman. Don Schaly won 1,442 games as a head coach.
John Schaly is entering his 31st season as a head coach at the collegiate level, the last 20 of which have come as the Eagles' skipper. He has 726 wins as Ashland's boss and 1,089 wins over his career. The Schalys are also the second father-son combination to each win 1,000 games at four-year institutions. John is the winningest coach in AU history and has the third-most wins of any active Division II coach.
He began his head coaching career at Berry (Ga.) in 1988 before heading to St. Leo (Fla.) in 1992. Schaly got his start at Ashland in 1998 and is currently the athletic department's longest-serving head coach.
Because Schaly is on the ABCA Board of Directors, he actually found out about his induction at last January's convention where the next year's Hall of Fame class is decided. The class was publicly announced last summer.
"It was a great honor and I'm very humbled," said Schaly, who served as the ABCA president in 2012. "There are a lot of great coaches in the Hall. To go in with this group of coaches, I'm not sure I'm really deserving. But I'm very honored and humbled."
The rest of the Hall of Fame class includes Ed Blankmeyer, St. John's University (N.Y.); Hill Denson, Belhaven University (Miss.); Don Freeman, Prairie High School (Wash.); Jim Gilligan, Lamar University (Texas); Tim Hill, Sr., State College of Florida; Bobby Howard, Columbus High School (Ga.); Andy Lopez, University of Arizona; Stan Luketich, Desert Vista High School (Ariz.); Pat McMahon, New York Yankees and Frank Permuy, Gaither High School (Fla.).
When talking about the honor of joining those colleagues in the Hall, Schaly remembers fondly about the hundreds of players he has mentored in his career and the numerous assistant coaches who have come and gone through the years, many of whom will be in attendance at the banquet, including current assistant coach Aaron Hilt and Schaly's son, Adam, who serves as a graduate assistant.
"I've heard from a number of guys – calls, emails, texts," said Schaly. "I think there's going to be a good number of guys at the banquet, so it will be neat to see them. That's the rewarding part of this job when you hear from players that have been gone for awhile and they tell you how much the program meant to them and what they've become.
"You remember all the players that have come through the program and they're great fathers, great husbands. Seeing the benefits of going through our program and what they have become as men has been humbling."
Now in the hours leading up to the Hall of Fame banquet, Schaly will be working to nail down his induction speech.
"They tell me it has to be five minutes, I'm working on condensing it," Schaly said with a laugh. "It started about eight minutes and I'm trying to work it down. That's where I've had the chance to reflect on the past players and coaches and what they've meant to me. I really need more than five minutes to thank everyone because I've had so many people that have been a major part of my career.
"It's going to be a fun evening."