EKU athletics and the EKU baseball team is mourning the loss of longtime baseball head coach Jim Ward.
According to a press release by Kevin Britton, Assistant Athletics Director for Communications, “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.”
Ward led Eastern Kentucky to five Ohio Valley Conference regular-season titles and four OVC Tournament championships. EKU made four NCAA Regional appearances (1984, 1985, 1986 and 1989) under his direction. In his second year, 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.
According to the press release, baseball head coach Edwin Thompson said, “It is an honor to be the baseball coach at Eastern Kentucky University because of the tremendous standard of success coach Ward established.”
Thompson continued by saying, “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 was 82 years old and he 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 and 10 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 in the Black Box Theatre at the EKU Center for the Arts. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22 at Oldham, Roberts and Powell Funeral Home with burial to follow at Madison Memorial Gardens.