Brad Hill is arguably the best athlete ever to come out of Canton-Galva High School.
Hill was one of the very first high school stars I covered when I arrived here in 1979. He was a legendary football and basketball standout for the Eagles, leading them to considerable postseason success.
But it was baseball where Hill made his mark. While C-G didn’t have baseball back then, he was part of a talented McPherson American Legion team that filled the Light Capital Diamond stands under the guidance of legendary coach Vance Carlson.
Hill was so good in baseball, in fact, that he was recruited by Emporia State, which probably didn’t have any idea just what he was going to accomplish.
Hill’s name is all over the Emporia State record book as he’s one of the best offensive performers in team history. His accomplishments caught the eye of the Texas Rangers, for whom he played four years in their minor league system.
Hill then turned his attention to coaching. He enjoyed considerable success at Hutchinson Community College, but his big break came when he went to Central Missouri State. He was an immediate success, going 49-10 in his first year and guiding the Mules to the College World Series. He was there from 1995 to 2003, winning 418 games and losing only 91 and was a staggering 202-17 in conference play. The Mules made six appearances in the Division II College World Series, winning it all in 2003. They were 51-7 that year.
That caught the eye of Kansas State, traditionally a tough place to win because it competes in the Big 12, which in baseball is slanted more toward the Oklahoma and Texas schools because of the warmer weather.
Hill was a creditable, by Kansas State standards, 26-30 in his first year. But he had a winning season in his second year at 30-25 and the program started to take off. The big year was 2013 when the Wildcats were 45-19, Big 12 champions and competed in a Super Regional.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats’ fortunes started to slip after that high-water season. They were just 25-30 the following year and have had only one winning season since then.
Hill on Tuesday announced that after 15 years he was stepping down, leaving the school on his terms. He is the winningest coach in school history and made Wildcat baseball a happening. To accomplish what he has is beyond remarkable as those cold-weather months to start the season isn’t appealing to the top prospects, who want the warm climes so they can play year-around.
In stepping down, Hill said he thought it was time for a new direction of the program. My guess is that he believed he had taken the program as far as he could. Had he stayed around a little longer, he could have achieved 500 wins at KSU and 1,000 in his career. He has sent 46 players to the Major League draft and produced 18 All-Americans. His team also excelled off the field with 84 All-Big 12 Academic honorees.
Hill certainly has deserved some time off. I wish he and his family only the best success and happiness. He’s one of the really good guys in the profession and has been highly thought of for more than 30 years.