Originally created 03/24/01

Westside coach gets 500th win



THOMSON, Ga. - When sophomore Alan Gregg took the mound Friday afternoon against Thomson, he knew he could help put his coach in the history books.

Sure, he wanted to beat Thomson, but Gregg's motivation to win the game wasn't personal achievement. With Gerald Barnes sitting on 499 victories, Gregg helped the Patriots coach chalk up his 500th career coaching win with a 14-5 victory over Thomson.

Barnes joins three baseball coaches - former Greenbrier coach Terry Holder, retired Heritage coach Danny Blue and retired South Gwinnett coach John Sawyer - to notch 500 coaching victories in Georgia. However, after just 26 seasons, Barnes reached that plateau faster than Holder, Blue and Sawyer.

Gregg wanted the victory badly for the Westside coach. His father, Jon, is an assistant at Westside and also played under Barnes.

"Coach never made a big to-do about it (500 wins)," said the younger Gregg, who picked up the victory. "He's won a lot of games. It's fun to be part of the group that helped him get his 500th victory."

Barnes' 500 victories also earn a spot in the National High School Federation record book. According to NHSF records, Barnes is the 63rd coach nationally to reach 500 or more wins. Yet he said he didn't understand why one game is such a big deal.

"It was a good win, but a lot of players have contributed to this," Barnes said. "It was not a personal thing on my part. We've had a lot of good players come through this program, and when you've had players like that, my job has not been hard."

Darkness forced the game to be called in the bottom of the seventh inning, and after the teams shook hands, Tony LeZotte and Brandon Satcher doused the coach with water.

"We had talked about (coach getting his 500th win) before the season started," said Bernard Scherer, who led the offense, going 3-for-5 with four RBI. "We struggled the first part of the season, but we're glad to help coach get the victory."

Barnes' wife Sissy and his two daughters watched the milestone victory. Making it even more special, his only son David played in the game.

"I've had a lot of good people to coach with me," Barnes said. "From Mark Turner and Chuck Williams to Jon (Gregg), Chip (Fulmer) and Doug (Holland) now, a lot of good people have helped. My wife and my family have also been very supportive, and they've sacrificed a lot. That kind of stuff counts."

Here are the only five high school coaches in Georgia to record 500 career baseball victories:

Terry Holder

Retired: 1999 from Greenbrier

Number of Seasons: 28

Schools: Evans, Greenbrier

State titles: 8

Record: 527-138-1

Danny Blue

Retired: 2000 from Heritage

Number of Seasons: 30

Schools: Heritage, Jackson

State titles: 0

Record: 514-222-4

John Sawyer

Retired: 1999 from South Gwinnett

Number of Seasons: 30

Schools: South Gwinnett

State titles: 0

Record: 513-295

Gerald Barnes

Number of Seasons: 26

School: Westside

State titles: 2

Record: 499-179

Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216 or timmorse@augustachronicle.com.