MORRSITOWN, Tenn. — The laboratory former Walters State baseball player and coach Joey Seaver tinkered in for two years of his playing career and 14 years of his coaching tenure will now forever bear his name.
The bullpen at Walters State's Ken Campbell Field was dubbed Seaver Bullpen Saturday afternoon prior to the Senators facing Tennessee Community College Athletic Association rival Dyersburg State.
"I was fortunate enough to work with Joey for 10 years here at Walters State, sharing an office together and rooming together on the road," Senators sixth-year head coach Dave Shelton said. "I can honestly say he was one of the best mentors and inspirations for me, both as a coach and as a person that I have had. He truly cared about each and every one of his players and would do anything to help anyone at any time. Being able to learn from him for 10 years is one of the biggest blessings of my life.
"Knowing Joey made you want to be a better person and be your best at everything you did. I know I am a better coach and person because of the time I spent with him, and Walters State baseball would not be the program it is today if it were not for him. I will always cherish his friendship and will always remember the impact he had on my life."
Seaver, a 14-year assistant coach for the Senators under TCCAA Hall of Fame Coach Ken Campbell and briefly head coach of the Walters State program, died unexpectedly on Dec. 3 at the age of 54.
Seaver, who was named the head coach of the Senators in the fall of 2013 but left shortly after to become a pitching coach in the Texas Rangers organization, joined the coaching staff at Walters State in 2000 following a 10-year stint as the pitching coach at Carson-Newman University, where he helped guide the Eagles to six South Atlantic Conference titles and a berth in the 1999 NCAA Division II World Series in his final season in Jefferson City while also helping C-N reach the NAIA World Series in 1993.
Once joining Campbell's staff at Walters State, the Senators program soared to new heights, as the Senators amassed a 650-162-1 record in his 14 years on staff. WSCC won at least 37 games each season, including 40-plus wins in 12 of the 14 campaigns, and the Senators participated in the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado, five times (2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2013) during his tenure, including a national championship in 2006.
While in Morristown, Seaver coached more than 30 pitchers who were drafted by Major League teams, and his 2006 pitching staff set school records for wins (61) and strikeouts (465) that year, although the strikeout record has recently been broken. In the summer of 2006, he was hired by the Boston Red Sox to serve as the pitching coach for their Single-A club in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Seaver also played on the 1984 Walters State team that advanced to the JUCO World Series for the first time in program history. He later starred at the University of Tennessee after being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth round of the Major League Draft in the summer of 1984. He went on to pitch for two seasons in the Brewers farm system after being drafted four times during his collegiate career.
After four years in the Rangers organization, Seaver spent the 2018 season as the pitching coach for the Bristol Pirates in the Appalachian League, marking a homecoming of sorts for the Church Hill native and Volunteer High School graduate.
Known for both his compassion and caring for each and every player, as well as his tireless work ethic, Seaver was widely renowned as one of the top pitching coaches in the country. His mark was forever left in Morristown as both a player and a coach.
Most of Seaver's family was in attendance, including his wife Diana, and his three children — Matthew, Hannah and Ryan. Both Matthew and Ryan took part in the pregame ceremonies by throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.