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ABCA announces Hall of Fame Class of 2023

July 6, 2022
ABCA Hall of FameThe American Baseball Coaches Association has announced six individuals to be inducted to the ABCA Hall of Fame in January 2023.

The ABCA Hall of Fame Class of 2023 includes:

Jerry Dawson, Chaparral High School (Ariz.)
Dave Demarest, La Quinta High School (Westminster, Calif.)
Eric Kibler, Horizon High School (Ariz.)
John Lowery, Jefferson High School (W.Va.)
Jeff Messer, Slippery Rock University (Pa.)
Tim Saunders, Dublin Coffman High School (Ohio)

The 2023 ABCA Hall of Fame Banquet induction ceremony will be held during the 79th annual ABCA Convention on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. The 2023 ceremony will also include the induction of three members of the ABCA Hall of Fame Class of 2021—Hal Baird (Auburn), George Horton (Cal State Fullerton/Oregon) and Don Sneddon (Santa Ana)—and two members of the Class of 2022—John Altobelli (Orange Coast) and Gary Gilmore (Coastal Carolina).

Tickets for the event will be available for purchase online. ABCA members will be able to purchase tickets during the Convention registration process. Non-members will be able to purchase tickets beginning September 1.

Induction to the ABCA Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by the organization. The ABCA was founded in 1945 and the Hall of Fame began in 1966.

LINK: ABCA Hall of Fame Website Release

Jerry Dawson Jerry Dawson, Chaparral High School (Ariz.)
Jerry Dawson completed his 12th season as the pitching coach at Yavapai College (Ariz.) in 2022 after serving as head baseball coach at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, from 1973-2010.

Over 37 seasons, Dawson guided Chaparral to eight Arizona high school state championships, including four runner-up finishes. His teams captured 24 regional titles, and he was voted the ABCA/Diamond Sports National High School Coach of the Year in 2004.

Dawson retired from Chaparral with the most career high school wins in the state with a 774-301 career record (.720).

His program produced over 160 graduates who continued their baseball careers at the college or professional levels, including six current or former Major Leaguers, most notably Paul Konerko, Brian Bannister and Ike Davis.

Dawson also served as head coach of the Junior National team that competed in the 2005 Pan Am Games, winning a silver medal.

He has been elected to six Halls of Fame, including the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, National High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Dave Demarest Dave Demarest, La Quinta High School (Westminster, Calif.)
Dave Demarest retired in 2007 after 34 seasons as head baseball coach at La Quinta High School in Westminster, California. He remains the winningest coach in Orange County high school baseball history with a career 753-213 (.780) record that included a county-record 22 league championships, winning 15 consecutive league championships from 1993-2007.

At the time of his retirement, La Quinta was the only county school to have won 30 games in a season, doing it 1998 and 2004.

Under Demarest, La Quinta made seven appearances in the CIF-Southern Section finals, capturing three CIF-Southern Section titles and becoming the first county team to win consecutive section championships with their back-to-back titles in 1994 and ’95. In total, his teams advanced to the playoffs in 31 of his 34 seasons as head coach.

The 24-time Garden Grove League Coach of the Year also earned CIF Coach of the Year honors four times and was recognized as the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) National Baseball Coach of the Year in 2004.

More than 30 of his former players went on to play at NCAA Div. I institutions, while another 20 advanced to professional baseball, seven of which eventually made it to the Major Leagues, including Bobby Crosby, Gerald Laird and Ian Kennedy.

A featured clinician at the 2009 ABCA Convention in San Diego, Demarest is a member of eight Halls of Fame. Inducted into the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (NHSBCA) Hall of Fame in 2008, Demarest served on the NHSBCA Executive Committee from 2000-2003, serving as the association's President in 2002.

Eric KiblerEric Kibler, Horizon High School (Ariz.)
Eric Kibler started the baseball program at Horizon (Ariz.) High School in 1980, and over the course of 38 seasons, he would go on to become the all-time wins leader in Arizona high school baseball history and capture multiple state titles.

Kibler amassed 881 career victories, with 809 of those wins coming at the helm of Horizon High School, good for the most in state history. His Horizon teams captured six 5-A state championships, finishing runner-up three times, to go along with 20 regional championship victories.

The five-time Arizona Baseball Coaches Association (AzBCA) State Coach of the Year mentored three first round MLB draft picks and had 28 former players advance to professional baseball.

Kibler also has an extensive history with USA Baseball. He managed the 16U National Team to a gold medal at the 2010 Pan Am Games, earning him USA Baseball Coach of the Year honors. In addition, he served as an assistant coach on the gold medal-winning 16U team in 2009 and the 18U team in 2015. He also developed and designed the USA Baseball National Development Program.

He is a member of the AzBCA Hall of Fame, the Arizona High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame and was inducted into the National High School Baseball Coaches Association in 2019.

John LoweryJohn Lowery, Jefferson High School (W.Va.)
John Lowery is a high school coaching legend in the state of West Virginia. Named the Greatest High School Coach in state history, regardless of sport, by in 2020, Lowery has been the head baseball coach at Jefferson High School since starting the program in 1973 following two seasons at now-defunct Harpers Ferry High School.

In 51 seasons, Lowery’s teams have combined for a 1,392-361-2 (.793) record, winning at least 20 games for 45 straight seasons and making him the winningest high school coach in state history. He has won a state-best 12 state championships, finishing runner-up four times.

After 50 years of coaching, his teams continue to find success, as his 2021 and 2022 Cougar teams advanced to the state semifinals. In total, his Cougars have made 26 state tournament appearances, winning 33 sectional and 26 regional titles along the way.

Named the 2002 ABCA/Diamond Sports National High School Coach of the Year, Lowery has received nearly two dozen Coach of the Year honors throughout his career.

The 45-year Lifetime ABCA Member is a past President of the West Virginia Baseball Coaches Association (WVBCA) and is a member of the WVBCA and National High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Jeff MesserJeff Messer, Slippery Rock University (Pa.)
Jeff Messer completed his 37th season as head baseball coach at Slippery Rock University (Pa.) in 2022. He has amassed a career record of 1,072-696-5 (.605) since taking over the program 1986, finishing the 2022 season with a 33-18 record and advancing to the program’s 13th NCAA Tournament appearance.

Following the Rock’s 19th season of 30 or more wins under his leadership, Messer was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Coach of the Year for the eighth time in his career.

Slippery Rock has captured 15 PSAC West titles and two PSAC Tournament titles under Messer, while advancing to the NCAA Div. II World Series four times. He remains the all-time winningest coach in PSAC history.

The 2000 and 2003 ABCA/Diamond Sports NCAA Div. II Atlantic Region Coach of the Year ranked 12th in NCAA Div. II history in total wins and fourth in wins among active NCAA Div. II coaches through 2021.

A 38-year Lifetime ABCA member, Messer currently serves on the ABCA Board of Directors after serving multiple terms as the ABCA NCAA Div. II chair and eventually serving as ABCA President in 2017.

Tim SaundersTim Saunders, Dublin Coffman High School (Ohio)
Tim Saunders retired in 2020 after 33 years as the head baseball coach at Dublin Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio, and 40 years of coaching overall. Saunders, who now serves as the Executive Director of the National High School Baseball Coaches Association (NHSBCA), ended his coaching career with a 589-393 (.600) record.

The former ABCA High School Division chair and past President of the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association (OHSBCA) led Dublin Coffman to a state championship in 2001, five district championships and two regional titles. His teams captured 13 league titles, and more than 100 of his former players played collegiately and a half-dozen were MLB draft choices.

Inducted into the OHSBCA Hall of Fame in 2004, Saunders became the first coach from Ohio to be inducted into the NHSBCA Hall of Fame in 2012.

He is a 37-year Lifetime ABCA Member and has been a featured clinician at three past ABCA Conventions.

Saunders also served many years on the ABCA High School All-America and Coach of the Year Committee and was the recipient of the prestigious ABCA Dave Keilitz Ethics in Coaching Award in 2013.

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