BOSTON, Mass. - The New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) has announced the Class of 2018 for the Hall of Fame, including long-time Amherst College head coach Bill Thurston.
The 2018 Hall of Fame class was honored prior to the organization's annual all-star game on Thursday, May 31, in Pawtucket, R.I.
Thurston is part of a class of three of the greatest coaches in New England baseball history, all of whom left a lasting legacy of success. Joining him on the field prior to the 44th Annual NEIBA Joe Walsh All-Star Game between the University All-Stars (Division I) and College All-Stars (Division II/III) were fellow honorees Bill Holowaty of Eastern Connecticut State University and Pete Varney of Brandeis University.
Thurston served as head coach of the Amherst College baseball program from 1966 to 2009 and is the winningest coach in any sport in school history. He led the Purple and White to a staggering 811 victories (against just 471 losses and 12 ties) over 44 seasons.
His teams posted 22 consecutive winning seasons and cracked the 20-win plateau 21 times, including a streak of four straight 20-win seasons from 1988 to 1991 and from 2005 to 2008.
In 2004, Thurston's club won its first-ever New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship and appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time since 1996, repeating these achievements in 2005. Amherst also claimed the NESCAC West Division crown in 2003 and 2005.
Thurston was named New England Coach of the Year on four occasions (1974, 1980, 1984, and 1997) during his head coaching tenure at Amherst. In 1982, he was the recipient of the NEIBA's prestigious Jack Butterfield Award for coaching excellence and contributions to the game.
Bill Holowaty – Eastern Connecticut State University
The winningest coach in the history of New England intercollegiate athletics at the time of his retirement in April of 2013. In 45 seasons, he produced 39 post-season teams, 14 of which have advanced to national tournament play. Holowaty concluded a career unrivaled by any New England coach in any sport at any level with a record of 1,404-525-7. He was named the national Coach of the Year four times and regional Coach of the Year 14 times. Under Holowaty, Eastern Connecticut won the Little East Conference regular season or postseason championships or both in the same season 14 times in 16 years and four National Championships (1982, 1990, 1998, 2002).
Pete Varney – Brandeis University
Pete Varney won more games than any other coach of a single team in Brandeis history. He became the fourth Division III coach in New England history with 700 career victories after defeating Worcester State University, 7-2 on April 7, 2015. Varney's final career record is 705-528-6. In addition to all of his victories, Varney coached three American Baseball Coaches Association All-Americans, one CoSIDA Academic All-American, and 12 student-athletes who went on to play professionally. Under Varney's leadership, Brandeis teams went to the postseason 21 times in 34 seasons, including two ECAC Tournament titles and 12 NCAA Tournament berths. The 1999 Judges went to the NCAA Division III World Series, only the second time in program history they reached that plateau.