"Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins is the one who thinks he can"- (Napoleon Hill) is not only Coach Wallace's favorite quote, but a fitting epitaph for a man who has achieved what only 7 others before him ever have: 1200 Victories. After winning the Region X Tournament last weekend the Pioneers advanced to the Eastern District Tournament hosted by Hartford CC in Bel Air, Maryland to compete for a spot in the World Series in Grand Junction, CO. Going in to the first round of the District Tournament NJCAA Hall of Fame Coach Tim Wallace was at career win #1199. The Pioneers fell to Potomac State and got knocked into the loser's bracket where they found themselves playing Hartford CC for another chance to the World Series. On Saturday May 11th, SMC and Coach Wallace beat Hartford 7-0 to stay alive in the Eastern District Tournament and to give Tim Wallace his 1200th career win, to avoid facing elimination the Pioneers beat Potomac State in the second game of the day advancing them to the District Championship game on Sunday. Tim Wallace has now recorded 1201 wins and only 431 losses in his 28 years at the helm of the Pioneers of Spartanburg Methodist College. From the looks of how the Pioneers are playing, they aren't finished yet. Wallace is currently ranked #4 in the country of active NJCAA baseball coaches and #8 overall. He was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2014 and continues to be a role model for his players and peers.
When Wallace was asked what 1200 meant to him he jokingly replied, "It means I'm Old". He very humbly followed with: "I've emphasized at every milestone that too much credit is given to me. Give the credit to the players for the wins, blame me for the losses. I've always said that I've been fortunate to watch a lot of talented young men in SMC uniforms play our game at a high level and do so with class and integrity, that's what leads to wins. It was gratifying yesterday to be told by two men who have never seen SMC play and know nothing about our history (an umpire and another college coach) that they really liked and appreciated the way our guys played the game. I wish someone could have counted the number of times I've heard that in my 28 seasons at SMC."
The truest of testament comes from the Pioneers assistant coach, Jeremy Joye. Joye had this to say about his time and experience with Wallace.
"Although I spent four years on an opposing coaching staff in Region X, I still had plenty to learn when Coach Wallace took me in as a member of the Pioneer coaching staff in late summer of 2011. It is the years spent under his tutelage that has shaped who I have become as a coach. I remember Win 900 (2012) and Win 1000 (2014) as if they were yesterday. As I walked hurriedly from the first base coaches box to shake his hand after Win 1,000 (which happened to be the first game in a doubleheader), he kept his head down, said "Thank you," and reminded us that we still had one more game: "We're not done yet, gentlemen. Let's get ready for the next one." No fanfare. No celebration. Careful not to let any of us get distracted by the milestone he had just reached.
One of the things I admire the most about him is that it's not about a win here or there, but rather establishing and maintaining a winning culture. Even if it meant risking a loss in the spring, he has never bent the rules for a single player, whether it was the potential conference player of the year or a walk-on, thus establishing that consequences are non-negotiable. That is how culture is maintained. It is this culture that has equipped players with the mental toughness to leave SMC and have successful careers in baseball (playing and/or coaching) or becomes employable adults (and sometimes work for the toughest of bosses). Some realize the impact he has made on their life prior to leaving SMC. Others realize it later in and may even catch him coming out of the dugout after a series on the road to tell him just how much. I am almost certain that the milestone 1200 wins means less to him than continuing to instill in young ballplayers the importance of doing what it takes to win, on and off the field...the importance of establishing their own winning culture even after they hang up their spikes. "
The Pioneers are set to play Monroe CC in the championship game of the Eastern District Tournament tomorrow at 2pm for a trip to the 2019 NJCAA World Series.