“Total surprise.” That is how Hernando High School and Hernando Youth Baseball Coach Tim Sims described his reaction to the news that he would be named to the Dixie League Hall of Fame. In a fortuitous turn of events for the honored coach, Dixie Majors Baseball Commissioner Ronnie Jackson called him months prior to the announcement to inform Sims of his nomination. Upon receiving the email containing the nomination, Coach Sims did not actually fill out the form. So, when the day came that he had indeed been named to the hall of fame, he was understandably shocked.
“They caught me totally off-guard,” coach Sims said. As the 57-year-old coach explained it, the honor was announced before his team’s 4-3 victory over Southland, Louisiana in the 2022 Majors World Series. As Sims was talking with Heather Gillis – a recording artist who is best friends with both of his daughters – in the stands before the game, officials walked out and made the announcement.
“I was half paying attention and half not,” Sims said. “The next thing I know, I’m hearing my name… I was listening to the background and the person that was going to receive the award. All of a sudden… I’m like wow that’ll be interesting because that’s very similar to my career.” So just what was it about the veteran coach’s career that prompted his nomination? The Hernando Youth League has 12 divisions including sports such as football, baseball, and girls softball, with dixie boys and majors programs having been present since the start of the youth league. Being the coach of the Dixie League baseball team, Coach Sims has led teams in the pre-majors and majors divisions since 1990.
The newly minted hall of fame coach also participated in the league as a player from seven years old until he was 18. Totaling 17 state championships across the entirety of his career, he accomplished 3 of these as a player and achieved 14 more as a coach. These championships resulted in 17 Dixie League World Series berths.
With these appearances, Coach Sims has experienced a unique level of success in his 11 years as a player and 32 years as a coach in the league. Having won a Dixie League championship as a player in 1983 and another as a coach in 2000, he is the only person in the youth organization’s history to accomplish such a feat. While he is certainly deserving of this prestigious honor, Coach Sims was quick to shift the praise and spotlight to those who came before. He credits the founders of the Hernando Youth League for laying the groundwork for the success he has been able to achieve.
“There have been ladies and men way before me that provided and started Hernando Youth League,” Sims said. “Like I said, I can’t go without thanking Ernie Weaver… my dad Joe Sims, George Harrison, Ernie Chatman, Harry Timmons Senior… [James] Wilkes, Fred Farmer. All of those gentlemen provided opportunities for kids, parents to get together, learn baseball.”
The only inductee for the class of 2022, Coach Sims follows the five-person class of 2021: Larry Lankford, Dave McQueen, Johnny Presley, Laurie Parker, and Morris Welch. Looking ahead to next season, the hall of fame coach returns his starting five from his summer league team and they will hope to add to the rich history of baseball in the county. “Hernando County is a baseball community,” Coach Sims said. “We just love to be a part of it, continue the tradition that we have of Hernando youth baseball and baseball in general in our county.”