Steiner had impressive run in Macon

sports@macon.comMay 26, 2014 

When Goot Steiner coached and taught at Dudley Hughes back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he was “The Coach” for the Wolverines.

In the fall, he was the football head coach, in the winter the basketball head coach and in the spring the baseball head coach, as well as track and field head coach. Back in those days, that was the norm, rather than the exception, especially at small schools.

Steiner enjoyed great success for the vocational school located on Forsyth Street, especially in baseball. During his 10 years, his teams compiled an impressive 141-41 record on the diamond, including eight region championships, eight appearances in the state championships and three state titles.

Hughes got its first state crown in 1959, winning the GHSA Class B title in Thomaston behind Pug Churchwell. Churchwell was the winning pitcher in both of the Wolverines’ wins. They beat Tucker 4-0 in the semifinals, and later that same day he was the winning pitcher in a 6-5 win over Bowdon in the championship game. He recorded 23 strikeouts in the two games, 10 against Tucker and 13 against Bowdon.

Churchwell went on to play professional baseball, spending seven seasons in the minor leagues with the organizations of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team now known as the Los Angeles Angels and the Chicago White Sox.

The Wolverines repeated as Class B Champions in 1960. They overcame a 6-1 deficit to beat Camden County 8-7 in the semifinals and Tucker 2-1 in the finals. James Stanley got credit for both wins as he allowed just four hits in the two games.

Dudley Hughes moved to Class A in 1961 and won a baseball championship in that classification in 1963. The Wolverines beat Tucker 11-1 in the opener of the tournament and then lost to Americus 5-3 in the second game of the double-elimination event, meaning they had to win three straight to take the title, which they did. They defeated Tucker 3-0, Americus 2-0 and Americus again in the championship game 4-1.

Ralph Mimbs recorded three wins in that series. Junior Gene Ratliff, who went on to sign a professional contract with the Houston Colt .45s in 1964, was charged with the loss to Americus but came back to beat Tucker. His career pitching record at Dudley Hughes was 25-3. He played briefly in the big leagues with Houston.

Steiner coached the Dudley Hughes football team for five seasons before the school dropped the sport because of a lack of players after the 1960 season. During his time, his football roster was usually 15 to 18 players, and he never had more than 20. The only winning record in program history came during the 1957 season when the Wolverines finished 8-2.

The rosters for each sport he coached were made up mostly of the same people. Like Steiner, for the players it was football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring.

Following the 1965 school year, Steiner moved to Lanier as the top football aide to Jim Nolan and also as the baseball head coach. The next year, he took over as football head coach and started an impressive run.

In his short six-year stay at Lanier/Central, his teams went 58-8-2. He lost more than one game just once while at the Macon school, and that came in his first season when the Poets finished at 7-3. His 1972 team lost in the Class AAA finals to Lakeside 36-21. That was the final game he coached, as he died of a heart attack at age 46 the following spring while playing racquetball at the Macon Health Club.

Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Email him at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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