Lucky No. 37!

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

After coaching the West Jessamine High School baseball team for the last 15 years, Jody Hamilton said seeing the final
results of watching his players succeed is what kept him coaching for 37 years.

Winning two state championships, the first in 2001 in Boyd County and the second in 2015 in Jessamine County, Jody got his start in sports as a player growing up in Ashland, Kentucky. Graduating from Morehead State University, Jody played one-year with the New York Yankees before he returned home and married his wife Denise, taking a job as a graduate assistant at Morehead State, a university where Jody still holds the career record for most home runs to this day.

“I was a player and I played athletics all my life,” Jody said. “I ended up going to college and played college baseball at Morehead State and became a teacher after playing in the Yankee organization a short period of time. The next best thing would be coaching. Our first year of coaching I was a graduate assistant. The next 36 years were all in high school.”

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Jody spent his first four years coaching at Raceland High School before coaching 16 years in Boyd County. In 2002, Jody moved with his family to Jessamine County where he took over as the coach for West Jessamine High School in 2003.

“I had one losing record in 1986,” Jody said. “We didn’t have a field. The infield was on the school parking lot. I said if we get all these cars off here can we paint a field on here … We played every game on the road while they were building the field, and we would have to ask teachers to move their cars before the game.”

Jody’s move to Jessamine County came after his father in law passed away and his son graduated high school and moved to attend college at Mississippi State University.

“The field back home was named after my wife’s dad,” Jody said. “Over time you drive into school and what do you see? The sign. This job came open and a girl I went to school with called and said, ‘Would you be interested?’ I ended up looking into it and drove down here. I said, ‘this has got to be one of the five worst fields in the state’ …They said they were working on a new one, so I said OK.”

Out of the two state championships, Jody said the one that sticks out the most is his win in 2001.

“The first our son played on so that made that one a little more special,” Jody said.

Throughout his career, relationships he developed with the kids he coached, the parents, booster club and administration helped give him the support he needed. Although throughout it all, Jody hopes the people he was fortunate to cross paths with all share one thought in common when they think about him as a coach.

“I want everybody to feel I was fair,” Jody said. “I coached to win. That means I was going to play the best players no matter who you were. It didn’t matter. If you can go 36 years and have one losing record that means you have done a pretty good job.”

Jody jokes not only has he coached for 37 years, he wore the number 37 and just celebrated his 37th wedding anniversary. Retiring now, he said, just felt right.

“It takes up so many hours of so many days with even one team,” Jody said. “I coached over 1,300 baseball games over 36 years in high school and Denise washed my uniform every time. The only thing she ever said is, ‘What do you need tomorrow?’ I thought it was time to give her a break.”

With a total winning record of 938 games in all his 37 years coaching, Jody is enjoying retirement in a log cabin he built with his wife in Garrard County. Complete with chickens, steer, beehives and freshly grown veggies from the garden, the only drawback is his children and grandchildren living three hours away.

“When the kids were grown and gone we said we need more land and less house,” Jody said.

Denise agrees.

“We’ve done the suburbs, golf course, lake house and farmhouse,” she said. “I don’t know what’s left. This has one drawback that is the fact that we are three hours from our children and our grandchildren. They come in on the weekend and we go there, but it is hard to run a farm and leave it and come back. Of course, it is hard for them with the distance. We really miss them.”

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