February 13, 2015
NORWALK, Calif. — One of the greatest college baseball coaches in history was Wally Kincaid of Cerritos College.
Kincaid coached 22 seasons (1958-77, 1979-80) and produced unparalleled results.
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.
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 and now 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 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”
John Herbold, who coached 51 years in southern California at Cal. St. Los Angeles, Long Beach Poly H.S. (Calif.) and Lakewood H.S. (Calif.), said he learned a great deal from Kincaid.
“Every player on his teams could execute every type of bunt with the bunt down first and third, the push bunt toward shortstop or second and the slash if the shortstop was covering third on a bunt attempt or the second baseman moving toward first base.
“Wally utilized a very tough play to defend against. If a runner was on third and a batter walked with two outs, the batter would jog to first. About 20 feet from the first base bag, he would take off, touch the first base bag and keep going to second. The catcher would obviously be flustered at seeing this and many times threw the ball away at second with one run scoring and the batter/runner now at third.
“The way you stop the play from working is that the catcher receives the ball and quickly gets the ball back to the pitcher. The second baseman then goes directly in the running path of the batter/runner coming from first base. The pitcher simply throws the ball to the second baseman who makes the tag, and the runner on third can’t advance. But you must know the play is coming. Otherwise, it is very difficult to stop it.”
4 Key Rules
Herbold said Kincaid had four simple rules.
“No. 1 was to play catch. Any fool can say that, but his teams simply did not make many errors because of the quality time they had in practice working on throwing. They were amazing to watch. No. 2 was throw strikes by the pitchers. No. 3 was put the ball in play when batting. And No. 4 was have good team spirit.”
Herbold also saw Kincaid initiate a sound play for his runner at second base that he had never witnessed before.
“With two outs, two strikes on the batter and a slow runner on second base, the runner was instructed to take off for third on a pitch that was heading down the middle of the strike zone.
“The theory was that if the batter took the pitch, it would be strike three, and the inning would be over. If he hit the ball for a single, the slow runner would undoubtedly score because of the early break.
“We utilized this play one time during a championship game and won it when a slow runner was at second and took off for third with two strikes on the batter and two outs. The batter swung at the pitch and hit a blooper just beyond the infield.
“The runner from second scored easily on the play with the run that won the championship. This is just good, sound baseball.”
Herbold said he utilized another play he picked up from Kincaid.
“With a runner on second base, strike three gets away from the catcher. The runner on second easily makes it to third while the batter/runner hustles to first and then takes off to second base which forces an unexpected throw from the catcher usually near the backstop.
“The throw from the catcher often times sails past second base into centerfield as the batter/runner now advances to third with one run scoring. How is that for a play! You score a run on a strikeout with the batter/runner advancing all the way to third.”
Horton said that if anybody continually screwed up the pre-game infield with poor throws or errors, a price would be paid.
“When I was a freshman at Cerritos, I was playing first base and uncorked a ball during pre-game infield to the catcher that missed the target. Coach Kincaid visually shot darts through me at that time and told me to get off the field.
“Boy, does that get your attention. It was at that point when I realized that I needed to stay after practice and work harder so that I wouldn’t screw up during the pre-game infield. I needed to earn the right to take infield again. And the extra work paid off.”
Horton said the short game on offense was taught on a daily basis.
“Our inside offensive game and slash was taught each day in practices. Our practices were extremely long and lasted 4 ½ to 5 hours. At the time, we had unlimited fall games and practiced six days a week. It should be noted that quality work was being done during these long practices. They were not necessarily innovative, but the same things were done pretty much every day which allowed the players to build great fundamentals in fielding, throwing, stealing and pitching
“We had a main diamond hitting station as batters would work on hitting behind runners, bunts down first and third, push bunts toward second and shortstop, as well as fake bunt and hit plays with our pitchers throwing to us in this setting. The facility at Cerritos at the time was better than many 4-year schools.”
To read more about the amazing system of Wally Kincaid, purchase the Feb. 6, 2015 edition by CLICKING HERE.