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NJCAA tabs Wallace

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Lancaster native, SMC coach set for induction

By The Staff

 

SPARTANBURG – The NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association has announced its 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class and Spartanburg Methodist College’s Tim Wallace is one of four inductees.

Other inductees include current head coach Eric Brown of Suffolk County College, N.Y., Steve Ruzich of South Suburban College, Ill., and previous NJCAA World Series assistant tournament director, Thomas Rogers.

The four inductees will be honored at the pre-tournament banquet of the 2014 NJCAA Division I World Series on May 23 in Grand Junction, Colo. Since 1938 the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has been the governing body of two-year college athletics, offering athletic and academic opportunities to college students.

Now entering its 75th anniversary, the NJCAA is the second-largest national intercollegiate athletic organization in the U.S., with over 500 member schools in 43 states.

Each year, 60,000 student-athletes compete in one of 28 different sports and the organization sponsors 48 national championship events and nine football bowl games. NJCAA headquarters have been located in Colorado Springs, Colo. since 1985.

Wallace is in his 23rd season at the helm of the SMC Pioneers baseball program while also serving his second stint as athletic director. His 2014 team, which includes former county stars C.D. Pelham and Tripp Rollings along with first-year assistant coach Marc Rape, is 6-0 and ranked No. 11 in the NJCAA poll.

His previous teams have produced a 984-307 record with NJCAA Region X Championships in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2013. His .764 winning percentage ranks him among the leaders of those actively coaching at the NJCAA level.

Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, SMC president, elaborated on Wallace’s success.

“He personifies what it means to be an excellent coach. If evidence of this is needed, one need look no further than the Slim Mooneyham Baseball Field at SMC on any given afternoon. He gets great players and he gets them to play great. He teases out the best in his players, and they respond by living up to the high standards he sets for them, both on and off the field.

“I don’t think his players show up here because of who he is, though; they show up because of who they can become because of what he does. Could there be a better recommendation for a hall of famer than that?” Keith continued. “Coach Wallace is a winning coach, but beyond that, he is a coach who doesn’t take shortcuts, he does things the right way, and he expects the same of his players. I see it time and time again. They admire him and whether or not they realize it, they learn far more from him than how to consistently hit well, or how to steal a base.

“Almost without exception they become better baseball players, but they also learn that they can become better men, who act with integrity and care. If he had a personal mission statement as it relates to who he is as a coach, it might read: ‘to develop principled men.’ His success comes not from what SMC is providing him (he coaches at one of the smallest colleges in the NJCAA, with one of the smallest budgets, and a coaching staff of only one other individual), it comes from his integrity, his determination, his commitment to his players, his principled leadership, and his knowledge of baseball.”

Wallace has garnered many awards, including Region X Coach of the Year (1992, 1998, 2000, 2008, 2010), Carolinas Junior College Conference Coach of the Year (1992), Louisville Slugger Coaches Award (1993, 1996, 1997, 2001) and Diamond ABCA Regional Coach of the Year (2001, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013).

In 2001, Wallace earned his first Eastern District Coach of the Year Award as his 49-12 club sported the best record in Grand Junction, Colo., at the NJCAA World Series.

He earned his second Eastern District Coach of the Year Award in 2003, when his club posted a 50-16 record. His 2007 squad earned him his third honor, posting a school-record 54 wins while finishing third at the Junior College World Series.

A fourth honor was awarded after the 2009 squad finished fifth at JUCO with a school-record 55 wins. Number five came after the 2012 Pioneers again earned a trip to Grand Junction for the Junior College World Series. The 2013 team made it back-to-back trips to the World Series and Wallace’s sixth District coaching award.

Wallace was inducted into the Spartanburg Methodist College Athletic Hall of Honor in 2012. In addition to having successful teams, Wallace has helped individuals realize their potential.

Three Pioneers have participated on the NJCAA all-stars, a group assembled to face international competition.

Of the three all-star participants, Derrick Clay and Marty Gantt were named Offensive MVPs of their respective groups. Sixteen players have been named NJCAA All-Americans during his tenure, while 68 have signed professional contracts.

In 2002, Wallace had his first player reach the majors, 1998 graduate Orlando Hudson with the Toronto Blue Jays. Hudson was a three-time Gold Glove winner and four-time All-Star second baseman.

A second Pioneer under Wallace, Lee Gronkiewicz, a former Lancaster resident, made an appearance at the big league level in 2007.

Also during the Wallace era, players have signed letters of intent with or gone to play at major NCAA Division I institutions such as South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee, Kentucky, N.C. State, College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina and East Carolina among others. Numerous others continued their careers at the NCAA Division II level.

Prior to his coaching career, Wallace was a standout player. A former second round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, he played professionally for seven years. This included a two-year stint in Italy, where he led the league in hitting and home runs.

While playing in the states, Wallace was named an all-star for both the Appalachian and Florida State leagues and also was team MVP for the 1983 St. Petersburg Cardinals.

This continued a streak of team MVP awards that included two Lancaster High School, one Lancaster Post 31 American Legion, one Baptist College and two Wofford College seasons.

It was at Wofford where Wallace attracted professional scouts. During his two seasons there he posted records for career batting average (.456) and longest consecutive game hitting streak (37). He also led NAIA District 6 and the state of South Carolina in hitting as a sophomore with a .472 average.

For his efforts, Wallace was inducted into Wofford’s Hall of Fame in 2000.

Wallace returned to Wofford after his playing career and completed his B.A. degree in Sociology. 

He then earned a master’s degree in physical education from Gardner-Webb University..