RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University athletics, the college baseball community and EKU baseball alumni are mourning the passing of longtime baseball head coach Jim Ward.
As Eastern’s baseball coach for 22 years (1980-2001), Ward won 628 games as the Colonel skipper. Even more impressively, he ranks among the all-time leaders with 939 career college baseball victories.
Visitation will be from 3-6 p.m. Sunday, October 21, 2018 in the Black Box Theatre at the EKU Center for the Arts. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday, October 22, 2018 at Oldham, Roberts and Powell Funeral Home with burial to follow at Madison Memorial Gardens. Honorary pallbearers will be all former baseball players coached by Ward.
Ward led Eastern Kentucky to five Ohio Valley Conference regular-season titles and four OVC Tournament championships. The Colonels made four NCAA Regional appearances (1984, 1985, 1986 and 1989) under his direction. In his second year at the helm, Ward’s Colonels led the nation in biggest turnaround, winning 26 more games than the previous season.
Ward was inducted into Eastern Kentucky University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
A member of the OVC Hall of Fame, Ward was a five-time league Coach of the Year (1982, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 2000). He mentored five OVC Players of the Year and 64 all-conference performers. Four of his student-athletes were named All-Americans and 29 of his players signed contracts to play professional baseball.
Ward won 311 games in 11 seasons as the head coach at Stetson University where he was inducted into the Hatters’ Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Cincinnati, Ohio native earned his bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in 1961 and his master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University in 1967.
“It is an honor to be the baseball coach at Eastern Kentucky University because of the tremendous standard of success coach Ward established,” current Eastern Kentucky Head Baseball Coach Edwin Thompson said. “His legacy will live on forever. Coach Ward put EKU baseball on a national level. He impacted so many players and coaches during his time, including myself. His love for EKU is as strong as anyone I have been around and he will be deeply missed by many. On behalf of our baseball program, and our entire University, I send our most sincere condolences to the Ward family.”
Ward, 82, was the son of the late Helen Marie Brown and Charles Edward Ward. In addition to his wife Judith Ann, Ward is survived by his son, Scott (Kenni) Ward of Lexington, and two daughters; Cynthia (Timothy) Rollins of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Jody (Kelly) Combs of Jamestown, Ohio. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren; Timothy Rollins, Nicholas Rollins, James Rollins, Justin Ward, Nathaniel Rollins, Kyle Combs, Katelyn Combs, Christopher Rollins, Benjamin Rollins, Kristen Combs, Emily Rios, Andrew Rollins, Kevin Combs and Alex Rollins along with 10 great-grandchildren.