70 Years of Excellence

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Mark Scalf

Baseball for the Win
Diamond Hawks program celebrates 60 years of hard work, consistency and good, clean fun
By Tom Riordan and Caitlin Taylor
Consistency is often difficult to attain, but UNCW baseball has shown that it’s not only possible, it’s expected. This year marks 60 years of success as a record-breaking program that continues to craft solid student-athletes and funnel players into professional baseball. Steeped in traditions of excellence and tenacity, Diamond Hawk baseball slides into year 60 as a clear home run, both for the UNCW athletics program and the university.
Catching Up with the Coaches: Since its inception in 1957, UNCW’s baseball team has been led by just three coaches. Bill Brooks, the Seahawks’ first coach, began his legacy by founding the athletics department and serving as the first athletics director. Bobby Guthrie ushered the program into Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) membership in the mid-1980s. Current head coach Mark Scalf ’80 has guided the Seahawks to eight National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament appearances so far. The stellar records of each coach speak for themselves, all of which paved the way for the program’s most recent feat: 1,629 all-time wins.
Grand Slam Guy: The first game of the 2016 season was particularly exciting for head coach Mark Scalf as he marked the 800th win in his UNCW career. What’s next? “I just want to continue to work hard,” Coach Scalf said simply. “I want to continue to develop relationships with the players andwith the UNCW community as well as the southeastern NC community. It’s been fun. It’s been trying at times, but rewarding to see our players experience what they’ve experienced. It’s neat to see our alumni come back and bring their families and see how successful they are. I’d like to think a lot of it had to do with their experience here in the program and competing in the classroom as well as on the field.”
Pitcher Perfect: Brooks Field, named after inaugural coach Bill Brooks, stands picturesque with its beautifully manicured lawn and infield dirt. Pine trees flank the left side of the stadium and lead to “Home Run Hill.” Junior college national championship listings and finals appearances are listed proudly on the press box, while conference tournament titles and NCAA appearance banners adorn the back of the grandstand.
Seahawks at the Show: Former UNCW baseball players Billy Harris ’66 and Bill Haywood ’62 made their debuts in Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1968. Cody Stanley and Chris Hatcher, also once proud Seahawks, made MLB appearances in 2015 and 2010, respectively. Hatcher, a current pitcher for the Dodgers, was the 2006 catcher for the Seahawks after helping UNCW win its second of four conference titles. In all, eight Seahawks have played in the major leagues, and former Seahawk Carl Willis ’90 is now the pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox.
Baseball Gives Back: The program holds several auction days throughout the year to help local charities, from military organizations to the Wilmington Miracle League. Players often wear jerseys during games that are auctioned off afterward. Players revel in seeing fans wear their names and numbers, but what they appreciate even more is knowing these contributions have gone on to help those in need.
There is little doubt that UNCW will continue along its trajectory of success beyond the 60-year mark. Though it is vital to pause and recognize all that the baseball team has achieved since its humble beginnings in 1957, the pause will not be a long one. Seahawk baseball is a force, and it will endure as a powerhouse of UNCW pride.
SIDEBAR: Memories from the Mound
UNCW lost one of its biggest fans this spring when James “Ronnie” Register passed away in April 2016. Register started the Seroka Challenge in memory of another longtime Seahawk fan, Stan Seroka, who cheered for the team for years before his passing. The challenge collects donations from fans for every run and home run hit by UNCW. Register and his wife Linda also endowed a scholarship for the program, the James and Linda Register Baseball Scholarship Fund, allowing Coach Scalf and his staff to compete with the likes of baseball teams from UNC Chapel Hill, NC State and South Carolina for some of the top talen