Already boasting one of the best coaching resumes in the game, Yavapai baseball’s pitching coach Jerry Dawson is adding to his trophy case. This time, Dawson is adding ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association) Hall of Fame honors to his resume as he and five others are set to be inducted into the association’s 2023 class the ABCA announced last week.
“Things like this are very humbling and very flattering,” said Dawson. “However, it is always much more of a reflection on the great communities and great young men that I have been privileged to work with than it is of me personally. Lucky me! As a young coach, you always dream that something like this might happen for you but realistically understand that it seldom does.”
Entering his 13th season at YC in 2023, Dawson has seen his hurlers have great success at YC and beyond. In 2016, the pitching staff helped lead the squad to its fourth national championship in program history and in 2019 (a season in which YC went 37-19), Dawson’s arms tallied a 3.19 ERA, good for 12th-best in the nation.
During his tenure at YC, Dawson has sent 30-plus pitchers to the NCAA Division I level in addition to seeing eight of his pitchers get selected in the MLB draft: Kenny Giles, Chance Adams, JoJo Romero, Chandler Eden, Matt Southard, Avery Weems, Andrew Walter and Andrew Gross. Giles, Romero, Weems and Gross all currently pitch professionally as well.
Prior to his time at Yavapai, Dawson was the head coach at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he put together one of the most legendary high school coaching careers in the nation. Dawson coached the Firebirds for 37 years, winning eight state championships (four of the championship teams went on to be nationally-ranked) and 24 region championships in addition to four runner-up finishes.
Coach Dawson left Chaparral with an overall record of 774-301 with 774 wins being the most in the state of Arizona at the time. He earned National High School Coach of the Year honors five separate times and saw 160 of his players continue their baseball careers at the collegiate and professional level. Seven of those players went on to the big leagues: most notable are Paul Konerko, Brian Bannister and Ike Davis.
At Chaparral, Dawson also taught physical education for 30-plus years, served as the physical education department chairman for more than 25 years and was the school’s athletic director for more than 20 years. For his incredible contributions, Chaparral’s baseball field is now rightfully named “Jerry Dawson Field”.
Other coaching stops for Dawson include being an assistant coach for the USA Baseball Junior National Team in 2004, which competed in the World Games in Taipei and being the head coach of the Junior National Team in 2005 when it competed in the Pan Am Games in Mexico, winning a silver medal.
Prior to coaching, Dawson received his B.A. in education from Missouri State University and M.A. in education from Arizona State University. He also served his country as a military police officer in the United States Army that included a tour of duty in Vietnam.
Having already been inducted into six hall of fame’s (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), Dawson will be inducted to the ABCA Hall of Fame on January 6, 2023 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, during the 79th annual ABCA Convention.
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.
– D.J. Irwin