SFC baseball coach to join Hall of Fame


Published: Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 11:55 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 11:55 a.m.

Former Santa Fe College head baseball coach Harry Tholen will receive perhaps the most impressive honor of his career today.

Tholen, who still serves as a volunteer assistant coach at SFC, will be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the ABCA national convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

"It's a great honor that I can't put into words," said Tholen, who is just the fourth Florida Junior College coach and only the 13th national Junior College coach to be inducted since the inception of the Hall of Fame in 1966.

"I have had great assistant coaches, great players and great support from my administrators. I've been blessed to have a great career."

SFC athletic director Jim Keites was pleased to see Tholen honored in the 2011 class, which also includes current Oklahoma State coach Gary Ward.

"He has been an important part of Santa Fe College and the Gainesville community for 30 years," Keites said. "Over that time he has helped countless numbers of student athletes achieve their dreams on the baseball field and academically. I can think of no one more deserving of this highest of honors."

Tholen came to SFC in 1981 from Ohio and has been a fixture on campus since.

"Coming here was the best move for my family," Tholen said. "It was great for me. Gainesville's a special place and Santa Fe is first class. I'm proud of what our players accomplished by graduating. I've been fortunate to work with some outstanding people."

During his career at SFC, Tholen led the Saints to a 526-423 overall record during his 22 years as head coach (1982-1985 and 1989-2006), including the school's first baseball state championship and trip to the JUCO World Series in 1985, where the team finished third.

"We had a dismal year in 1984 and no expected us to do anything (in 1985)," said Tholen, whose team had to knock off programs from Georgia and Alabama to make the national tournament after winning the Florida championship, something which JUCO programs from the Sunshine State no longer have to do.

"They told us we were one of the weakest teams to advance in years in Florida, but we got hot at the right time."

Tholen was also part of SFC's run to the national runner-up spot in 2009 as a volunteer assistant coach serving under current coach Johnny Wiggs, who was Tholen's assistant coach at one time.

"That was a lot of fun and that team really got on a roll," Tholen said. "It's not always the best team that wins. It's more the team that is playing the best. You can have nine studs, but if they don't play together, they won't win. It's all about who puts it together at the right time."

Tholen, who has compiled a 782-538 record in 36 years as a head coach, is also a member of the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Florida Community College Activities Association Hall of Fame.

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