Beals’ coaching style attracts players, helping claim 311th win

Ohio State Baseball head coach Greg Beals talks to the umpires before the Ohio State-Maryland game on March 28. Ohio State won 5-4. Credit: Christian Harsa | Asst. photo editor

Ohio State baseball head coach Greg Beals said he was reminiscing about his hiring process Saturday night with friends and family. Despite the nearly 11 years since he was called up to lead the Buckeyes, Beals said he remembers the story like it was yesterday.

Just a day later, Ohio State beat Maryland 5-4 and Beals won his 311th game as head coach, passing Dick Finn for third on the Buckeyes’ all-time winning list.

“I didn’t even know that,” Beals said Sunday. “I’m an everyday guy. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and making sure our guys are ready for tomorrow.

Baseball is a sport where the collective production of players outweighs the influence of a coach’s decisions in determining the success of the team. However, Beals’ coaching style – cultivated through his core values ​​of trust, an emphasis on the freedom of the individual and the encouragement of players – helps bring out the best in his players.

“It was kind of a situation where I could come in and be challenged, but it was a comfortable situation. I’m really comfortable being uncomfortable,” the right-handed junior pitcher said Friday. Garrett Burhenn: “With Beals, I was able to have that right away, the feeling of comfort and fitting in perfectly.”

Beals grew up in Springfield, Ohio, playing baseball at Kenton Ridge High School under coach Tom Randall, who is a member of the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame. Randall, whom Beals considers “near and dear” to him, attends all of Ohio State’s home games.

After high school, Beals played for Kent State, earning three All-Mid-American Conference honorable mention awards during his career. From there, he was drafted in the 22nd round of the 1990 MLB Draft by the New York Mets, spending three seasons in their farm system.

After his minor league activities, Beals transitioned into coaching and became an assistant coach at his alma mater Kent State for nine seasons before securing his first head coaching job at Ball State – compiling a career record of 243-202 during his eight years in Muncie, Indiana.

In June 2010, Beals was hired at Ohio State, an opportunity he said he was grateful for because of his upbringing in Ohio.

“I’m an Ohio guy and I spent a lot of time here, growing up just an hour from here,” Beals said. “This is my home, and representing Ohio State University when you’re a boy from Ohio is a special opportunity.”

During Beals’ time at Ohio State, he hammered home the team’s three core values: elite preparation, competitive toughness and brotherhood.

He also allows his team to be made up of 43 individual players as opposed to a large micro-managed way of thinking, approaching and attacking the game.

Before each of Ohio State’s four first homestand games this season, some players played a pick-up football game in left field about 20 minutes before the first pitch, an idea Beals said was not not necessarily a fan, but that he would continue to allow because he thinks it helps his players’ preparation.

“I’m not sure I’m crazy that they’re running around throwing footballs around,” Beals said. “But if it keeps them loose and keeps them in the right frame of mind to compete.”

First-year outfielder Kade Kern said Beals does a good job of keeping his players engaged, cheering them on from the dugout when they hit.

“I love being in the box and you can hear it during your shots just to cheer you on,” Kern said Friday. “It makes you feel pretty comfortable in the box.”

The combination of these coaching qualities has earned Beals the title of ‘player coach’ – a term used to describe a coach who allows his players a degree of freedom, but holds them back when needed.

“Definitely a player’s coach,” junior shortstop Zach Dezenzo said Sunday. “He has the ability to relate to a lot of us, and he knows when to step it up a notch and when to be a little loose. He has that sense for that.

Beals is expecting Marty Karow with 479 wins and Bob Todd with 901, so time will tell if he will reach the two coaches who have their shirts retired on the wall in the right corner of Bill Davis Stadium. For now though, Beals said he’s enjoying his time in charge of the Ohio State ball club.

“I was blessed to have the opportunity to coach here at this great institution and survive the years, and that’s what gets you to 311,” Beals said. “I will never take a single day for granted.”