A veteran of more than 900 collegiate baseball games as a head coach, former EWU head coach was recipient of Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award in 2009
Former Eastern Washington University head baseball coach Jim Wasem is one of seven persons who will be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Friday (Jan. 3) as part of that organization’s national convention in Dallas, Texas. It will be the fifth Hall of Fame honor of his career, including the 2009 Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award.
Wasem, who coached more than 900 collegiate games in a 23-year head coaching career, spent nine seasons at EWU, from 1982-90, compiling a 230-251-1 record. Eastern, which competed in the Pacific-10 Conference Northern Division against the likes of Washington State, Washington, Oregon State and Gonzaga, dropped the sport following the 1990 season.
He started coaching at the high school level in 1957 and received his first college job in 1972 at Illinois State. He came to EWU after nine seasons at Northwest Missouri State and five seasons at Monmouth in Illinois.
Wasem, a three-sport standout at Illinois Wesleyan University, signed a professional baseball contract out of college with the Chicago White Sox in 1957 and set a minor league record, collecting hits in his first 12 at-bats as a professional for Holdrege, Neb.
He and his wife, Jean, reside in Mead, Wash. Their son, Jim Wasem Jr., played for Eastern and in minor league baseball, and is the long-time head baseball coach at Rogers High School in Spokane.
More on Jim Wasem Sr.
Jim Wasem Sr. coached in more than 900 collegiate baseball games in a 23-year career as a head baseball coach at three different schools from 1968-90. He spent nine of those seasons (1982-90) at Eastern Washington University, which competed as a member of the Pacific 10 Conference Northern Division. He was 230-251-1 overall with a 78-135 league record.
Prior to that, he spent nine seasons at Northwest Missouri State (1973-81) where he had a collective 226-119 record for a .644 winning percentage. He won 61 percent of his games in five seasons (1968-72) at Monmouth in Illinois, finishing with a 64-41-1 overall record.
In 23 seasons at the helm of collegiate programs, Wasem coached in 933 games. He won 56 percent of those outings, with a 520-411-2 record.
At Eastern, Wasem's 1988 team finished up strong by winning four of six games in the Pac-10 Northern Division Tournament to finish second behind champion Washington State. His best season, percentage-wise, came in 1985 when the Eagles had a collective 42-24 record (.636).
Wasem came to the EWU campus in Cheney, Wash., after nine seasons at Northwest Missouri State where his record included four Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles at the NCAA Division II level. His players included Gary Gaetti, who would go on to a 20-year career in Major League Baseball.
Wasem's first collegiate head coaching position was at Monmouth College, where he won divisional titles in each of his five seasons at the school. He also coached basketball, compiling a 65-33 record. Prior to that, he spent five seasons as an assistant coach in baseball and basketball at Illinois State.
His resume also includes five years at high schools in Kinmundy and Roxana, Ill. Those teams won five baseball championships and two basketball titles. Wasem was also a successful American Legion baseball coach and a Central Illinois Collegiate Baseball League coach-business manager.
Wasem is a native of Vandalia, Ill., and was an honor student who earned four letters each in baseball, basketball and track at Vandalia and Patoka high schools. He was most valuable player three times each in baseball and basketball, and earned All-State honors in track.
Wasem won 11 college letters at Illinois Wesleyan, picking up four each in baseball and basketball. In baseball, he was a four-time All-College Conference of Illinois shortstop. He earned all-league honors three times in basketball and was a Sigma Chi All-American in both sports. He was the school's 1957 Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year.
Wasem played professional baseball for three years in the Chicago White Sox organization at Holdrege (Nebraska State), Duluth (Northern) and Lincoln (Midwestern). He was the all-star shortstop in his first two seasons and he led the Nebraska State League with a .366 average in 1957 when he set a minor league record with 12-straight hits. He began coaching in the off-season.
Wasem earned his master's degree from Illinois State in 1963 and a doctorate in education at the same institution in 1981. He has written almost two dozen articles for professional baseball journals and is the author of two books: "Heads-Up Baseball" and "Winning Basketball With Multiple Offenses." Besides being EWU’s 2009 recipient of the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award, he has been honored by four Halls of Fame (Illinois Wesleyan University, Clarinda A's, Northwest Missouri State University and the American Baseball Coaches Association). His 1975 baseball team was also inducted into the NMSU Hall of Fame in 1996. He was also recognized as a collegiate physical education teacher of the year in the state of Washington.
Wasem and his wife of more than 50 years, Jean, have two grown children and four grandchildren. Their son, Jim Jr., played minor league baseball after starring as EWU's shortstop from 1983-84. Jim Jr., was also an assistant coach for his father, and has gone on to a successful teaching and coaching career at Rogers High School in Spokane, Wash., where he coached Jim Wasem III.