Seward County Community College head baseball coach Galen McSpadden joined junior college baseball immortality on Friday, May 23, as he was inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Hall of Fame at the annual JUCO World Series banquet at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, Colo. McSpadden was joined in the 27th induction class by Don Brown (former head coach of Redlands C.C.) and Perry Keith (head coach of Connors State). The three coaching legends join 80 current members in the exclusive hall of fame membership. McSpadden is the first individual from Seward County Community College to be inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame.

McSpadden was joined at the Hall of Fame banquet by his wife, Debbie, son, Josh, daughter-in law, Jessica, daughter, Kelli, personal friends, Dale and Charlotte Paas, and by the SCCC President, Dr. Duane Dunn, and his wife, Cindi.

Dr. Dunn, who is entering his fifth year as President of SCCC, understands how lucky Seward County is to have McSpadden.

“The NJCAA Hall of Fame represents the best of the best in community college athletics,” Dunn said following McSpadden’s induction. “Galen’s induction is very well deserved. His selection is a recognition by his peers across the country of his ability to coach, teach, influence, and model the ethics of sportsmanship and knowledge of the game of baseball.”

“There are very few individuals in the Hall of Fame, so for SCCC to have one of those members is exciting and something I hope the community and our college recognizes as a premier recognition for a person who truly deserves this recognition.”

A career filled with coaching achievements, mentoring successful student-athletes, and winning a load of games is just the start of McSpadden’s impressive résumé, which includes 27 years of coaching the Saints at Seward County Community College.

McSpadden’s emotions were in high-gear the day of his induction in Grand Junction, while enjoying the company of his family and friends with many memories flowing through his mind before addressing the near capacity crowd at the JUCO banquet.

“It was a day filled with not believing this was really happening,” McSpadden said. “It was a day I reflected back on all of the players, coaches and others who helped bring about this day. My son (Josh) told me that it was good to see me act anxious, excited and somewhat like a little kid. It was a day that I felt very fortunate that (being inducted into the Hall of Fame) was actually happening and that I have a lot of players and others to thank and share the award with.”

McSpadden has put the Seward County baseball program on the map with a 916-494 overall record since becoming the sixth head baseball coach in Seward County history in 1981-1982. Doubling as the athletic director the past 24 years, McSpadden has worked tirelessly at building a well-rounded athletic department with seven varsity programs that have produced 32 Jayhawk West Conference titles, 20 Region VI Tournament championships, one NJCAA National Championship, 50 All-Americans and over 100 NJCAA Academic All-Americans.

Dr. Dunn also appreciates the time McSpadden spends not only helping promote his baseball program but with the work he has done as athletic director at SCCC.

“Galen has a strong commitment to insuring compliance with the NJCAA not only with the baseball program but also with all SCCC athletics,” Dunn said. “He’s aware of what is occurring within the athletic department, wants the programs to compete at the highest possible level and within the rules and regulations of the conference and the NJCAA. I appreciate his concept and commitment to the overall reputation of SCCC as a quality college.”

Galen McSpadden – THE BASEBALL PLAYER
A native of Southeast Missouri, McSpadden began his collegiate career after graduating from Zalma High School. McSpadden played four years at Southeast Missouri State University as a left-handed pitcher, where he still ranks near the top of several all-time school record lists. Pitching for the then-Indians, McSpadden led his team to 57-34 overall record during an era (1971-1974) that limited collegiate programs to less than 30 games per year.

McSpadden currently ranks in nine career and single-season Top 10 SEMO record books, including first in single-season strikeouts per nine innings (12.14, 1973), fourth in single-season ERA (1.47, 1973), fifth in single-season ERA (1.53, 1974), fifth in career ERA (2.65, 1971-74), fourth in career strikeouts (204, 1971-74) and tied for ninth in career wins (18, 1971-74).

His success at the college level brought him to Liberal for the first time in the summer of 1972. McSpadden played three summers for the semi-pro Liberal Bee Jays, where he would also meet his wife, Debbie.

McSpadden’s professional career began when he was drafted in the 6th round of the 1974 Major League Baseball Draft by the San Diego Padres as the 121st overall selection. Making stops at each level in the Padres minor league organization (A, AA, AAA), McSpadden made his debut in the big leagues as a member of the Padres 40-man roster in both 1977 and 1978. Then suffering an arm injury in 1978, McSpadden was released and returned to Southeast Missouri State where he began his coaching career.

McSpadden believes there were many people who helped influence him throughout his playing and coaching career.

“My parents supported me at a very young age to play the game of baseball and they continued to support me throughout my career,” McSpadden said. “Mike Payne, a high school teammate and friend, I admired because of the way in which he went about playing the game. Mike also influenced me to attend Southeast Missouri State.”

He also remembers his coaches that pushed him and helped make him the player that he was.

“Joe Uhls, my college coach at SEMO, put me in the weight room and treated me with respect,” McSpadden said. “Bob Cerv (coached McSpadden with the Bee Jays) challenged me to play at a higher level than my abilities.”

Galen McSpadden – THE BASEBALL COACH
McSpadden returned to Cape Girardeau, Mo., as an assistant coach to his former college coach, Joe Uhls, at SEMO while also completing his master’s degree from 1978-1981. The break for McSpadden to become a head coach came in 1981 when Seward County C.C. had a head coaching vacancy. McSpadden was the clear choice for the job.

Taking over the Seward County program wasn’t near as prestigious as it would be today. McSpadden inherited a program that had won just 115 games (12 wins/year) in 10 years of competition with a .428 overall winning percentage. The challenge at hand was obviously not an issue for McSpadden who led the Saints to a then-school record 33 wins in his first year as head coach in 1982. The winning legacy had begun.

McSpadden has followed with 12 Jayhawk West Conference championships, including 11 titles in the last 15 years, 16 straight seasons with at least 33 wins and an average of 41 wins per season since 1993. He has coached 73 Major League Baseball draft or free agent selections, coached 15 NJCAA All-Americans and has sent several hundred players on to play at the four-year level.

Twice McSpadden has guided the Saints to 50-win campaigns (1997, 2002) and in 2004, he led Seward County to its first-ever JUCO World Series in Grand Junction. SCCC placed fifth at the World Series and finished with a 47-16 overall record.

McSpadden has received numerous awards for his coaching excellence, including a four-time Jayhawk West Conference Coach of the Year selection (2008, 2004, 2003, 1998), the American Baseball Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year (2005), Major League Baseball Scouts Association Coach of the Year (2005) and the NJCAA Region VI Coach of the Year (2004).

In 2002, McSpadden coached the NJCAA Player of the Year, Cory Patton, who led the nation in home runs (31) and RBIs (120), while batting .454. Overall, McSpadden has coached 132 All-Conference selections (74 First Team), 30 All-Region VI selections, nine Jayhawk West Conference Freshmen of the Year, seven Jayhawk West Conference Most Valuable Players and three NJCAA Batting Champions.

Earlier this year, McSpadden was named the head coach of the NJCAA All-Star Team which will compete in June against the Taiwan National team in a best-of-three series at USA Baseball Stadium in Millington, Tenn. McSpadden was the logical choice for head coach after guiding the NJCAA Freshman All-Star West team last summer as an assistant coach, in a series played against the East NJCAA All-Star Team in Millington.

In the last eight years alone, McSpadden has mentored 53 players who have signed with division I programs. In his career, McSpadden has helped produce players who have transferred to the following NCAA Division I programs: Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Clemson, Hawai’i, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Ole Miss, Rice, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Tulane, Washington and Wichita State to name a few.

The skills McSpadden teaches his players includes how to be a responsible person off-the-field. His players have been a visible part of the Liberal community throughout the years. Recently the Saints have been involved with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization of Seward, Stevens and Haskell Counties. SCCC baseball players along with children in the community spend many hours during the year interacting in activities such as fishing, hunting, skeet shooting, bowling, swimming, attending sporting events and hanging out with each other.

McSpadden’s program is also known around the country for its academic excellence and its transfer rate to NCAA Division I institutions. In 2007, Seward County was the Region VI Baseball Academic Champions and ranked eighth in the nation with an overall team grade point average of 3.23. SCCC was the National Academic Runner-Up in 2002, finished 3rd in 2001 and was also the Region VI Academic Champions in 2001 and 2002.

McSpadden’s coaching at the collegiate level includes his involvement with the Liberal Bee Jays. The former Bee Jay pitching great was named manager of the storied summer team during its 50th Anniversary in 2004. McSpadden will rejoin the Bee Jays coaching staff this summer working with former big-league manager Mike Hargrove, who was teammates with McSpadden on the Bee Jays in 1972.

Among all of his awards and honors, McSpadden feels that his greatest accomplishments are having had the opportunity to play college baseball, play professional baseball, coach college baseball, had the opportunity to be a positive influence to those individuals he has coached, to have coached and played for the Liberal Bee Jays, to have taken a team to play in the JUCO World Series, to have been selected into the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and to have coached his son.

Galen McSpadden – THE HUSBAND/FATHER/GRANDFATHER
McSpadden and his wife, Debbie, have lived in Liberal the past 27 years where Debbie rarely misses a Saints’ game and works full-time as a daycare provider. Galen and Debbie have two children, Josh and Kelli.

McSpadden had the opportunity to coach his son during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Josh was the Saints’ starting shortstop both seasons where he helped lead the program to the most victories over a two-year span (95). Josh was named a 2003 NJCAA All-American and NJCAA Academic All-American before playing his final two years at the University of Texas Arlington.

Having the opportunity to coach his son ranks among McSpadden’s top moments in his entire career.

“Being able to coach Josh throughout his Little League, Babe Ruth, American Legion, and Junior College career has been a blessing,” McSpadden said. “Having the opportunity to coach my son at the college level and for him to be an All-American and an Academic All-American and to also have had the offer to play professionally have been some of the highlights of my career.”

During his sophomore season, Josh batted .409 (95-for-232) with 69 runs, 17 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 14 stolen bases with only 11 strikeouts. Josh and his wife, Jessica, have a son, Boston, who was born Nov. 20, 2007.

Kelli has continued living in a baseball atmosphere marrying Terry Tiffee, who has spent 10 years playing professional baseball for the Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations. The past four years Tiffee has played in 92 games at the major league level. Kelli and Terry have three children, daughter, McKenli (29 months), and twin boys, Brennen and Talan (22 months).

McSpadden says his family’s unconditional love has helped him tremendously throughout this career, saying, “Without baseball, I’m still a husband, father and grandfather. Without my family, I am nothing.”

“My family means everything to me,” McSpadden said. “Debbie has never put me in a position to choose (between her and baseball), she has allowed me to do what I obviously love and has thoroughly supported me every minute.”

“My children have been baseball kids and have enjoyed being around the game and the players throughout their entire lives. My son, Josh, has treated me with great respect and has brought me a lot of joy in what I do. To have my daughter, Kelli, marry a person who is also involved in baseball has been a blessing as well. All of my family has supported me 100 percent throughout my entire career.”

And just before the Hall of Famer approached the JUCO banquet audience he had one incredible feeling and thought pop into his head.

“As I stood up before those who were attending the banquet, it was a moment of overwhelming disbelief and appreciativeness and it made me understand how Lou Gehrig felt when he said, ‘Today, I am the luckiest man alive.’ It was a day that I will never forget.”