The Paper file photo by Lori Poteet 
Crawfordsville baseball coach John Froedge will be inducted into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame.
The Paper file photo by Lori Poteet
Crawfordsville baseball coach John Froedge will be inducted into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame.
Nearly three decades ago, John Froedge took Crawfordsville High School's baseball program and turned it into one of the elite programs in the state.

He's guided them down a trail of postseason success, coaching them to their first Indiana High School Athletic Association State championship back in 2008.

Now the state has an honor for him.

Froedge will be inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January of 2010. He received a letter in the mail this past Friday which revealed his selection.

But once he read it, Froedge's mind drifted back and conjured up memories of all his former players. It's their success more than his that helped him reach this pinnacle.

"My mind is flooded with all the guys that I coached and all the young men I've had to work with over the years. I'm definitely thinking about that right now. You experience that kind of bond that lasts you the rest of your life. I know it sounds corny. You experience Crawfordsville baseball for four years. You go through a lot together. It's about a whole lot more than wins and losses and championships. It's about he lifelong relationships that you build. For me, it's definitely about playing a very small role in helping young men grow up and using baseball as that vehicle. You have that thing in common," said Froedge, who will enter his 29th season as Crawfordsville's head coach this spring. "I'm so blessed to have that opportunity. I have no doubt in mind that God called me to teaching and coaching many years ago. It's been an incredible experience and I've been blessed. Any personal recognition that comes my way I want to make sure and give all glory to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ."

Froedge was the only coach out of the eight nominated to be voted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, according to Hall of Fame Executive Director Bill Jones.

He will join former Major League Baseball and Indiana high school players Hal Morris (Munster), Barry Jones (Centerville), Ron Kittle (Gary Wirt) and Lloyd McClendon (Gary Roosevelt) as the five 2010 Hall of Fame inductees.

They will be inducted during the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame's State Clinic at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Sheraton Inn in Indianapolis.

Froedge, Morris and Jones were voted in by the members of the association, while Kittle and McClendon were selected by the veterans baseball group.

Ballots are created by an IHSBCA committee and distributed to the more than 900 association members and previous hall of fame members, Jones said.

On each ballot, there are eight coaches, along with three players and three contributors. Those association members can vote for as many as four coaches, two players and one contributor.

Inductees must receive at least 65 percent of the votes cast. Jones said Froedge received around 70 percent of the votes.

During his 28-year tenure at Crawfordsville, Froedge has won 560 games and averaged 20 wins per season. He guided the Athenians to their first IHSAA Class 3A State baseball championship in 2008 and has also won 17 Sagamore Athletic Conference, nine IHSAA sectional and three regional titles and one semistate championship.

Crawfordsville finished 29-3 this past season and reached the IHSAA Mount Vernon (Fortville) championship game.

Jones and Froedge have known each other for years.

A 1976 Southmont high school and 1980 Anderson University graduate, Froedge has served on various IHSBCA committees throughout his tenure and also worked as an Indiana All-Star baseball coach.

Jones said it's a very nice honor and very much deserved - especially because Froedge is one of the few 20-plus-year veterans left.

"He's the last of the old guard. He's been coaching, 28, 29 years. Now, if you get 10 years out of one the younger people, it's sort of the standard. He's just done an outstanding job teaching the game and being active within the association. Again, he's one of the ones you hold up there as an image to the younger generation because he's done it the right way. He teaches the game well," Jones said. "So much of the time, when people start talking about coaching, they think it's all done from the third-base coach's box and that's a very small part of it. Most of it is about how well you teach and practice. His teams always show the old-guard. They're very fundamentally sound and he gets the maximum out of his kids."

But Froedge couldn't have done it without the help of his longtime assistant Rhett Welliver (they'll enter their 25th year together this spring), or his dozens of other assistants or even his wife, Debbie.

"It does make it more meaningful that you're selected by your peers in your coaching profession," Froedge said. "It is humbling."