Booth becomes Mr. 1,000
The words “Living Legend” usually are thrown around when Hartselle head baseball coach William Booth is talked about, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. Booth is the winnningest coach in Alabama high school history and Thursday night he achieved a milestone that no other Alabama high school coach has ever done. When Hartselle defeated Madison Academy 6-5, it earned Booth his 1,000 win as a head coach.
Booth’s story is one that would make a perfect ESPN 30 for 30 film. In 1988 Booth took over the baseball program simply because the coach they had retired and they just needed someone. Booth had never coached a high school sport before and this was only supposed to last two years. However, Booth decided if he was going to do it then he was going to do it right and within three years the Tigers won their first state championship. It would become the first of eight under Booth as he has still yet to relinquish the reigns of the program 29 years later. “I started going to camps and learning how to be a good coach.” Booth said. “I got hooked.”
Booth’s resume reads like coaching legend’s would. He has won eight state championships including four in five years from 1990-94. He has finished as a state runner up three times and finished in the final four five other times. He has a total of 20, 30-plus-win seasons and six, 40-plus-win seasons. He also has a 50-plus-win season, which happened in 2009 when the Tigers went 50-9 and won the state championship in what is arguably one of the best teams to ever come through Hartselle. Booth has also coached several players that went on to have careers after high school. Among the most noticeable are Steve Woodard, Chad Girodo and Chris Heaps. He also has had protégés that have helped created winning programs elsewhere using the same blueprint that Booth used including Chris Heaps at Russellville and David Pressley, formerly of Anderson (Ind.) University and now of Madison Academy. Booth also had some input in helping make the Cullman program that powerhouse that it is today. Coaches Bryan Bowen and Brent Patterson didn’t come up under Booth but they used what he did in their programs. “Bryan and I were good friends and were always talking about baseball. They beat us in the semi-finals one year and I told him I was going to come watch him practice for the finals.” Booth said. “I sat out there for a couple hours and then he came and asked me ‘Does anything look familiar?’ They were doing the exact same things that we did.”
When asked how he felt about getting his 1,000 win after Hartselle defeated Madison Academy, Booth responded in typical Booth fashion. “I don’t know I haven’t really had chance to think about it.” Booth said. “We almost destroyed ourselves. We made several errors. I almost had a stroke.” Rest assured that while he may have win 1,000, all he is focused on is getting 1,001 and so on.