Press Release from Belhaven Athletics
The American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) has announced on Tuesday that Belhaven University baseball head coach Hill Denson will be inducted into the ABCA/Diamond Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018.
Denson, a lifetime member of the ABCA, will be inducted along with 10 other inductees as a part of the Class of 2018.
"It is appropriate that Hill is included among the great coaches of history, and Belhaven is proud that he has invested this chapter of his career in our players. He's been such an effective coach because at every level, he respects his players' love for the game no matter their level of ability," said Belhaven President, Dr. Roger Parrott.
Denson will enter his 18th year at the helm of the baseball program this upcoming spring. With more than 45 years of coaching experience including 30-plus years at the collegiate level, he has compiled a career record of 1,273-842-2 and a 1,058-774-2 collegiate coaching mark.
Under the direction of Denson, the Blazers have won six conference championships, an NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round tournament, and made the school's first-ever appearance in the NAIA World Series in 2010. Later in 2010, Denson was inducted into the Belhaven Athletics Hall of Fame.
In 17 seasons at Belhaven, Denson and the Blazers have accumulated a 590-388 record. Denson has been named the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year three times, picking up the award in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
"I am so happy for this honor for Coach Denson. While there are some coaches with more nationally-recognizable names to the casual baseball fan, those in the baseball community know well the decades of service and leadership provided by Hill Denson. And most importantly, thousands of young men have been impacted by his life as players and assistant coaches. Hill is one of a handful of collegiate baseball pioneers who are largely responsible for the platform college baseball has today. Belhaven University has been blessed by his influence for over 17 years, the longest tenure at any school during his legendary coaching career," stated Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Little.
While coaching with the Green and Gold, Denson earned his 1,000th career win on Feb. 16, 2010 with a 9-1 win against LSU-Alexandria. His 1,000th collegiate win came over five years later with a 10-0 rout of Tougaloo on March 18, 2015.
Coach Denson's career includes 14 seasons at the helm of the University of Southern Mississippi baseball program (1984-1997), where he helped establish USM as a nationally recognized baseball power. Denson retired from Southern Miss with a career record of 468-386-2 with the Eagles.
Coach Denson enjoyed many years of success while at USM, including being named Metro Conference (now Conference USA) Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1990; having 12 consecutive winning seasons (1986-1997); 42-game winning season in 1990 (school record); NCAA National Tournament bids in 1990 and 1991; Eight USM players being named NCAA All-Americans; and 35 USM players signed to professional baseball contracts.
Denson was recognized by Southern Miss with the changing of USM Stadium to Hill Denson Field at Pete Taylor Park in 1999. Denson was also inducted into the USM Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, USM honored the 1990 and 1991 USM baseball teams, respectively, for the first NCAA regional appearances in school history.
Prior to his tenure at USM, Coach Denson served as the Director of In-Game Promotions for the Nashville Sounds, then New York Yankees minor league baseball club. He also served as an assistant baseball coach at Vanderbilt University.
Coach Denson's high school coaching experience included stints at three Mississippi high schools: Callaway HS, Manhattan HS and Chamberlain-Hunt Military Academy. Denson wrapped up his high school coaching career with a 215-68 record, along with a state championship and Coach of the Year accolades with Callaway in the 1981 season.
Away from the baseball diamond, Denson is active with the ABCA and the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC). In 1992, he presented to the NCAA Division I members the "Proposal to Move the College Baseball Playing Season to 'Baseball Season'". The proposal was passed with the coaches on a 3-1 vote and became a proposal during the 1993 NCAA Convention.
He frequently speaks to coaches in the State of Mississippi throughout the year, including with organizations such as the MAC, the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) and the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS).
In 2008, Denson was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into the Mississippi Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame (1982) and the Bobcat Sports Hall of Fame at Jones County Junior College (2012).
"Anybody who coaches college baseball teams to more than 1,100 victories deserves to be in the ABCA Hall of Fame, and that goes double or triple for anyone who does wit with the class Hill Denson has exuded both at Southern Miss and at Belhaven," stated Rick Cleveland, former Executive Director and current historian of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
A native of Bay Springs, Miss., Hill Denson is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Chemistry with an Education minor. He received his Master's degree in School Administration from Mississippi College.
Denson is married to the former Judy Moon, and he has two daughters, Jill and Molly, and two granddaughters, Wyn and Hadley.
Click here for the complete release from the ABCA.
The 2018 ABCA/Diamond Sports Hall of Fame Banquet will be held January 5, 2018 at the J.W. Marriott in Indianapolis, Ind. Tickets to the event will be available starting Sept. 1 and must be purchased in advance of the event. Attendees are requested to wear semi-formal attire.
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