STEUBENVILLE – Since becoming Big Red’s baseball coach 26 years ago, Fred Heatherington has followed a pretty simple philosophy.
“The program is not about one person, it’s about the team,” he noted Thursday after notching his 500th career victory via a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Catholic Central.
Heatherington’s career mark now stands at 500-189. His teams won a record five Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 4A championships from 1991-1995 and his 1994 squad started the season with 26 straight wins, a valley record.
His 2014 Big Red, now 15-4, will be looking to earn the school’s 20th OVAC championship today when it meets Martins Ferry in the 4A finale at Toronto. Legendary coaches Ang Vacarro and Chuck Watt are next on the school’s victory list with 196 and 192 respectively.
In addition to the team, Heatherington pointed out the Big Red program is also about the following:
“Dr. Dan Keenan, Rich Ranallo and Reno Saccoccia, who gave me the opportunity to coach.”
“Our fantastic indoor facility make possible through the leadership of Mike McVey.”
“Approximately 800 players who were dedicated, made sacrifices and believed in our philosophy.”
“The varsity assistant coaches that have worked with me-Don Morrison, Mark Stacy, Joe Pierro and Justin Banks along with all of our reserve coaches.”
“Great volunteer helpers, especially scorekeeper Janice Cornelius who has kept our book for 26 seasons.”
“Parents who trusted us with their sons and know that we do what is best for the team.”
There also are, according to Heatherington, “some proud people, who are looking down on us- my father Fred, mother Nancy and sister Debbie. There’s my Uncle Joe, coach Chuck Watt and coach John Retton.”
During his 26 seasons, Heatherington has guide Big Red to a pair of state championship games (1991 and 2004) as well as two state semifinal appearances (1991 and 2004). His 1994, 1998 and 20ll squads were crowed Ohio poll champions.
Following Thursday’s win, Heatherington joked the 500 victories “had to happen sometime, when you are here 26 years.”
On a more serious note, he said “we’ve had some great kids involved with our program.”
Finally, he took time to salute his “most supportive group (wife Cindy along with sons Darin and Mason).”