FORT PLAIN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The town of Fort Plain is celebrating tonight, following a milestone moment for legendary baseball coach Craig Phillips: his 800th career win.
“If you coach for 46 years and you don’t win, you probably don’t keep your job,” said Phillips after his Hilltoppers beat Mayfield 17-3 in a mercy rule five-inning game. “Every game brings a different sense of passion to you, and pride, and tradition, and to see the kids develop.”
As the winningest baseball coach in New York state history, Phillips has helped hundreds of players develop over his four-and-a-half decades leading the Fort Plain program. Along the way, his teams racked up two state crowns, six regional titles, 12 sectional championships, and won the league 25 times.
“He’s a great person and he deserves everything that he’s getting and every achievement and everything, all that he’s getting, he just deserves it all” said senior pitcher Troy Butler. “I’m really happy that he’s been able to get this because it’s probably something you’ll never see again.”
The significance of the landmark win attracted many of Phillips’ former players to Mayfield as well, who wanted to witness history and congratulate their coach. Mike Stetin, class of 1977, was a Fort Plain shortstop.
“Many, many years ago I was there for his first win, first game, and what an honor to be here for number 800,” said Stetin. “What a career. Amazing coach. Greatest coach I’ve ever had.”
The celebration continued from the field to Fort Plain, where the team was escorted into the village park by firetrucks and police cars. The streets were lined with people from the community coming out to show their support.
Phillips encapsulating the emotion by saying, “My players always said, ‘Coach, we can play in college. We can do all that stuff, but there’s nothing like playing in Fort Plain.'”