entire sport of baseball, and especially at the college level, lost
one of its greatest ambassadors this week. Joe Walsh died on Tuesday
of an apparent heart attack. Joe was 58 years old and had been the
Head Coach at Harvard the last 17 years. Joe was a family man
leaving behind his wife and four daughters, as this loss is heavily
felt throughout the baseball world. I’ve been so lucky to have met
so many good people through Perfect Game, but I was extremely lucky
to have known Joe Walsh.
Walsh coached for over 30 years. He did it with class. Not once
would he leave the impression he was better than the next guy. He
knew how to have fun, and more importantly, he knew how to create fun
for everyone around him.
though I had met Joe a few years earlier, I first got to know him
well when Perfect Game started doing events in the Northeast. Those
events, the Northeast Top Prospect Showcases, were held in Wareham,
Mass. at the time. Former PG scout and current Red Sox scout Tom
Battista set it all up with John Wilde, who ran the Wareham Gatemen
club in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
Wilde passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer.
John Wilde and Joe Walsh were great friends, and two of the nicest
men I’ve ever met. Current Yankees scout Matt Hyde was Joe’s
assistant back then and I will never forget the days we all spent in
the press box in Wareham. I truly enjoyed those events more than any
other. It seems like just yesterday that these two legendary
baseball figures were telling stories in that press box.
a relative hick from Iowa, I still felt very comfortable around both
John and Joe. These were real people that loved the game of
baseball. They had a way of making me feel much more important than
what I was. This developed into a friendship that never ended.
had a smile and twinkle in his eye that would make you feel happy.
He loved baseball as much as anyone I’ve ever known, and over the
years he attended Perfect Game events from coast-to-coast. I last
saw him at the WWBA tournaments in Georgia a couple weeks ago. A
couple years ago he even brought his daughter Katie to help my wife
work the gate. Katie was very likeable, no surprise there. She was
think it was 2005 when a hurricane dumped close to 30 inches of rain
in Georgia during our big July tournaments. This was perhaps the
toughest few weeks we’ve ever had at Perfect Game. Some people
made our lives miserable and tempers flared as we worked around the
clock. I guess some thought we were responsible for the daily
I still remember the last day of the 17u tournament:
While we were getting ready for the championship game Joe passed me
at the park, didn’t say a word, he had a big grin on his face and
his body was twitching uncontrollably from holding back laughter.
For some reason – I think it was simply the silly look on his face
– I started laughing out loud. We looked at each other and laughed.
No one said a word, because it wasn’t necessary. He got me laughing
for the first time in weeks. That really felt good. Thanks Joe!
was a great evaluator of talent. He could have been a perennial
College World Series contender at most big D-I programs. However,
Joe was a true Harvard man and so very proud of the University.
Recruiting is a different ball game at Harvard, just as it is at all
Ivy League schools. Still we would see him working hard at the
events, separating the academic kids with talent from the rest.
reason I know how great an evaluator Joe was is because he would let
me know about every talented kid he would run across. There are
hundreds of extremely talented kids that ended up in ACC, SEC, or
other top programs that don’t know how much Joe Walsh actually
helped them. When Joe told you a kid could play, you took that to
the bank. He was the first to recognize many outstanding players
that ended up at Stanford, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, etc. He would
tell me, “Jerry, we are not going to get him, so spread the word,
get this kid to some events, he is for real.” Joe was right every
when we first met, I told Joe it was always my goal to get players
into Harvard and other Ivy League schools. At the time we had kids
going to colleges all over the country, top college programs and
College World Series contenders. Yet, we only had a couple attending
Ivy League schools, and none at Harvard. A few years later Joe and I
went over the Harvard roster. Nearly every player had attended PG
events. There is something very rewarding when kids that attend your
events end up at Ivy League schools. Sure there are several
outstanding academic colleges with great baseball programs, but there
is still something extra special about the Ivy League. Joe knew this
and he was so damn proud of being part of it.
are just some of my feelings and memories regarding Joe Walsh. It
relates to Perfect Game because that is how we got to know Joe.
However, most anyone who has ever met Joe would have their own
memories. I’m sure that, in almost every case, those memories
would be very pleasant because Joe was just a regular guy who was fun
to be around. He had a way of just making you feel good.
deepest sympathy goes to Joe's wife Sandra, and his daughters, Tory,
Holly, Katie and Kasey, as well as the thousands of Joe’s friends
throughout the country.
family lost a great father and husband, the Red Sox lost a great fan.
Harvard lost a great coach. Baseball lost a great ambassador, many of
us lost a great friend, and heaven gained a great man.