Photo by Michael Buckelew
Stewart Bailey, a fixture in North Georgia baseball and assistant head coach at Georgia Perimeter College for four seasons, has been named head coach, athletic director Alfred Barney said Friday.
Bailey's appointment comes with the retirement of Danny Blue, who led the program for five years after taking over shortly before the 2007 season. Bailey came aboard in 2008 as chief recruiter and hitting instructor, and also served as the Jaguars' third base coach.
"Stewart has a proven track record and is capable of stepping in and taking the baseball program to new heights," Barney said. "He is known as an outstanding recruiter and motivator."
With Blue and Bailey teaming up in new state-of-the-art facilities on the GPC Newton campus, the program regained the national status it enjoyed in the 1990s.
From 2008-2011, the Jaguars were 143-87 and won the regular season championship of the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association -- also known as Region 17 of the National Junior College Athletic Association -- in 2009 and 2011. They added the tournament title in 2011 and were ranked No. 25 in the final NJCAA poll.
"We are very lucky to have perhaps the finest junior college baseball facility in the Southeast," said Bailey. "Everybody's excited to come to work at a facility like this one."
After graduating from Heritage High School, where he played four years of baseball under Blue, Bailey was an all-conference first baseman at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland before finishing his collegiate career at the University of West Georgia.
He started coaching in 1997 as hitting instructor at Truett-McConnell, then a junior college. He stayed five years, along the way picking up a master's degree in physical education from nearby North Georgia College.
Bailey's first head coaching job was at White County High School in Cleveland, where he revived a downtrodden program from 2002-2006 before spending a year as head coach at Chestatee High School in Gainesville.
When Blue called to see how his former player was doing and get opinions on some local players, he found Bailey eager to move back to the collegiate level.
"When I had the opportunity to work with Coach Blue, I jumped at the chance," Bailey said. "I've been to a lot of camps and clinics, but I've learned as much about baseball from Coach Blue as anybody.
"I love this level of baseball. I've spent a lot of time around junior college baseball and gotten to know how the system works, recruiting hard every year and playing a lot of freshmen. This is the level I feel most comfortable at. I want to be able to pick up where Coach Blue left off."
With most of the spring and summer recruiting done, Bailey's first order of business will be firming up the Jaguars' fall scrimmage schedule and getting ready for the 2012 season, which begins in February.