Wally Kincaid: Greatest Coach Of All-Time?

Wally Kincaid CollageBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

NORWALK, Calif. — Wally Kincaid, one of the greatest baseball coaches in college baseball history, died in mid-November at the age of 89.

The genius of his coaching system is being explored in this in-depth story on how he changed the game of baseball as no other skipper in history has.

He coached 22 seasons (1958-77 and 1979-80) at Cerritos College in California. His teams won six California Community College state titles, more than any other coach in California history.

Even more amazing is that his ball clubs produced an incredible 60-game winning streak that spanned three seasons – the longest in baseball history.

Kincaid compiled a record of 678-163 for a .806 winning percentage which is astounding considering the quality of teams his ball clubs went against in California.

He sent over 150 former players into professional baseball. Additionally, former players for Kincaid have gone on to enjoy great coaching careers, including George Horton (Oregon), Mike Weathers (Long Beach St.), Dave Snow (Long Beach St.), Bob Apodaca (major league pitching coach), Ken Gaylord (Cerritos College), Don Sneddon (Santa Ana College, the winningest California JC coach in history), and Butch Hughes (Colorado Rockies) to name only a few.

 “Coach Kincaid was simply light-years ahead of everybody else when it came to coaching,” said Oregon’s Horton.

“My respect for that wonderful man is immeasurable. When he was coaching, he had the model program to study if you were a coach. Everyone wanted to know what his secret was to coaching just as basketball coaches wanted to know what Coach John Wooden was doing at UCLA when they were winning all those championships.

“Coach Kincaid had a simple approach to his offense, defense, infield and outfield practices, as well as pitching.

“While there was a simplicity involved, he would demand quality. But he also coached his players in having a complete offense which meant the short game (bunt, push bunt, fake bunt and hit, etc.) was essential to learn and execute.

“His organizational skills were off the charts, and he created an atmosphere of excellence which required repetition every day. But prior to a practice, he would spend hours and hours to make his practices efficient. Early in his career, he would spend two hours organizing every hour of practice. He adhered to that through the years.”

Horton said practices were much tougher than games.

“They were a lot tougher because of the demands put on us. I suspect Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers was like this. I understand he had a small number of plays on offense, but everyone knew them extremely well, and the execution was superb. So nobody could stop them. Coach Kincaid didn’t believe in any shortcuts to making his teams perform well. We spent many long days with quality practices designed to make our players the best they could be.

“When we got into the state playoffs or a championship game, we were not overwhelmed at all. We had been there thousands of times on a daily basis with the precision needed to perform for Coach Kincaid.”

Horton said Kincaid was so heavily involved in his program at Cerritos that he rarely gave talks at clinics or marketed himself via camps.

“He was a little shy and not fond of public speaking. That probably prevented him getting his name out there more nationally. That wasn’t his comfort zone.”

Horton said Kincaid never yelled or screamed in practice or games.

“He did coach with the fear factor, but not as you may think. If he became mad or was disappointed in your performance or you were not working as hard as he expected, Coach Kincaid had no qualms about taking the opportunity away from you.

“If he ever felt that the integrity of the game was being compromised or the grand tradition of his program at Cerritos, that person would sit. He never got us on a line and ran us or ever cussed and screamed. He would calmly say in a face-to-face meeting that the performance was not up to speed with what he had envisioned and the standards he expected.

“Once he got the tradition rolling, he didn’t have to prove what he was doing. The respect was immense from his players because of the opportunities that were presented to us. His word was gold, and we trusted the manner in which he gave advice and coaching.

“If you saw him put his head down or take his hat off in disappointment, you were embarrassed you let an icon like him down. There was great tradition and pride in the program. The older players would coach the younger players. It was wonderful the way the peer coaching would take place along with peer expectations as the bar was raised very high.

“If you went to Cerritos at that time, you welcomed it. You were expected to be on a team as good as any in the state.”

Horton said Cerritos under Kincaid had a mystique that UCLA had in basketball and Notre Dame and USC have had in football over the years.

“During our pre-game infield just prior to contests, no words would be spoken. It was dead silent as the outfielders would be hit balls and threw them in to the proper bases as well as infielders. When you watched the pre-game infield, it was like a well oiled machine. Rarely would mistakes take place because Coach Kincaid demanded good fundamentals in practice on a daily basis with good execution.

“Possibly our players were not the most talented in the state, but they were the most fundamentally sound. They could really catch and throw with precision. Infielders and outfielders were always at the right spot and had a sixth sense to throw to the proper base during games.

“The silent pre-game infield intimidated a lot of teams. It wasn’t necessarily the quietness that made other teams nervous. It was the quality with which we took our pre-game infield.”

To read more of this in-depth story, purchase the Jan. 1, 2016 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE. Coach Kincaid taught his teams how to execute every type of bunt on offense as his system for bunting was the first thing he taught his players. Every player, even the biggest and slowest runners, could bunt which caused problems for defenses. John Herbold explains the four simple rules that Kincaid had, Kincaid’s special play with a runner on second base and two outs that was pure genius. This fabulous coach also had another play with a runner on second. If the batter struck out on a wild pitch as the ball went to the backstop, the batter/runner would sprint to first. When the dust had settled, one run usually scored with the batter/runner now on third on a strikeout! If that wasn’t enough, Kincaid’s pitching system is also explained. On defense, he would hit thousands of ground balls and fly balls to make his players better as practices lasted 4 1/2 to 5 hours.