KALIDA — Kalida was in dire need of a teacher.
At the time, Jim McBride was still going to Bowling Green State.
Kalida simply put out the call to the “bullpen” for McBride.
Thirty-three years later, McBride is retiring from his athletic director and coaching baseball duties at Kalida.
He coached his final game on Wednesday, a 6-0 district semifinal loss to Delphos St. John’s.
“I wouldn’t change anything,” McBride said after the game. “I enjoyed myself and enjoyed the kids and the coaches, including longtime assistant Ted Verhoff. That’s what I’m going to miss the most.”
McBride spent 31 years as the baseball coach at Kalida, where he finished his career with a record of 352-261.
“The 352 wins is a tribute to all my players, not me,” he said.
McBride would best be described as a “players’ coach.”
“Guys love playing for him and I think you see that with a lot of former players at the games,” former Kalida player Chad Ehrnsberger said after the district game. “I’m here as a fan of Kalida and a fan of Jim McBride.
“He kept it fun. Baseball is a game and it should be fun. With him, it was a game. He was a jokester. After a tough loss, he would crack a joke and you would realize there are more important things in life than baseball. At the same time, he was serious enough where you knew what was at stake and did his best to prepare us.”
McBride went to Delta High School, where he played basketball, football and baseball.
From there, he headed to Bowling Green State. It was there that he received a call that would bring him to Kalida.
The connection was that Putnam County superintendent at the time, Collin Stackhouse, coached McBride’s dad at Columbus Grove. Stackhouse heard McBride would be available and called Kalida superintendent John Phillips, who called the dean at Bowling Green.
An interview was lined up for McBride at Kalida.
“I came down and didn’t even have a resume,” McBride said. “I hadn’t even graduated yet. I thought I would get a factory job when I graduated then look for a job. I had my interview on a Thursday and started working on a Monday (at Kalida).”
McBride began teaching health, phys-ed, English and history.
Forget that he still needed to graduate from BG.
“A teacher had started there, then begged out and went into private industry (in December),” McBride said. “They were desperate and were using a sub.
“I ended up getting a temporary teaching certificate. I started working on a Monday and graduated from college four weeks later. … It was one of the those things. Maybe it was meant to be.”
McBride coached two years of junior varsity baseball, then was promoted to the head coach in 1981. He coached from 81-83, took a couple of years off when his daughter was born, then coached baseball from 1986 until this year.
After a few years around .500, he said 1990 was the turnaround year when the Wildcats came within a game of winning the PCL.
In 1991, the Wildcats won the PCL, McBride’s first title.
In '95, Ehrnsberger led the Wildcats to the state semifinals. He went on to play at Ohio State and logged 10 years in the minors.
“Chad was a five-tool player and had great leadership,” McBride said. “We also had (catcher) Neil Rampe, who was a catcher, who played with broken fingers. He got them from catching Chad. He’d tape them together and play.”
McBride also coached pitcher/shortstop Gene Stechschulte in 1990-92, who went on to pitch at Ashland, then in the bullpen of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Gene was rock solid and didn’t have any flaws in his game,” McBride said. “Then, he graduated and became better, bigger and stronger.”
In all, McBride won 10 PCL titles, made 14 district appearances, five regional appearances and two trips to the state (1995, 2006).
Along his Kalida journey, McBride logged 27 years as an assistant basketball coach, seven years as athletic director and one year as head cross country coach.
Looking back, he felt there was at least one reason he decided to follow the baseball coaching path.
“When I was 9 or 10 I had the best Little League coach in the whole world in Glenn Mohler,” McBride said. “Glenn saw potential in a snotty-nosed 10-year-old. Glenn was very influential in my baseball career.”
He also had a coach in the family, as his dad was his basketball coach at Delta.
McBride didn’t have any specific plans for retirement, but will remain in the area.
“My wife is the most understanding woman in the world,” McBride said. “All those years, it was Kalida time. I have a granddaughter who is 20 months old. Now it’s family time.”
After 31 years, the time has come to take his fungo bat and head home.