ST. MARYS - Ed Wilson misses taking a stroll to the third base box when St. Marys baseball takes its turn at bat.
It's for the best since the Blue Devil head coach has survived two heart attacks and needs to take care of his body. After all, he feels blessed just to be alive.
"People said they didn't think I would come back," Wilson said. "It's a great feeling waking up because the Lord let me stay another day."
Photo by Kerry Patrick
St. Marys baseball coach Ed Wilson, right, chats with Ritchie County baseball coach Dan Vanoy during the Blue Devils’ practice Tuesday in Ellenboro. Wilson will lead the Blue Devils into Thursday’s Class A state semifinal against Man at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park.
Wilson and his St. Marys crew travel to Charleston on Thursday to meet Man at Appalachian Power Park in a Class A semifinal game. First pitch will be 30 minutes following the completion of the 4:30 p.m. game between Gilmer County and Notre Dame in the first Class A semifinal contest.
The Blue Devils' last appearance at the state tournament occurred in Wilson's first season at the helm in 1990. The result was a 5-3 loss to Independence in the semifinal round of Class AA.
"We should have won the game, but the little things hurt us," Wilson said.
* Hired as St. Marys head coach in 1990
* Took Blue Devils to state tournament that year; their previous appearance
* Surpassed 400 career victories earlier this season
* Has captured five LKC?titles in 25 years for Blue Devils
During the course of 25 years, Wilson's teams have enjoyed tremendous success by advancing to the regional semifinals and finals multiple times. One postseason appearance especially stands out. In 1995, St. Marys owned a two-run lead against Wheeling Central and needed just three outs to secure a state trip.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the win never materialized.
"That was heartbreaking," Wilson said.
Earlier this season, Wilson surpassed the 400-win milestone for his coaching career. St. Marys also secured its fifth Little Kanawha Conference title.
"The 400 wins is a nice accomplishment - all the credit goes to the kids from 1990 to 2014 for doing the job," Wilson said.
Wilson is the middle child of five boys. His older brother, Dave, guided St. Marys to its only state title when it defeated Frankfort in Class AA in 1981. The school's baseball field is named after Dave Wilson.
"It's like a tradition coaching behind him," Ed Wilson said. "It would be nice to win a state championship and both of us have a crown. The kids are excited, the coaches are excited and the community is excited.
"Hopefully, we go down and play like we are capable of. Each day we get closer to game time, I'm getting kind of squirmy."
Wilson is allowed to feel like a kid again now that he has been granted a second and third chance. The first heart attack occurred two years ago and required a double bypass.
Several days following hernia surgery last year, Wilson experienced his second heart attack at midnight on a Saturday.
"My wife (Karen) didn't tell me until I got home three or four weeks later they had to shock me six times," Wilson said. "I said I didn't think they shocked anybody maybe more than three to four times. I'm just lucky to be here and I enjoy every day that I'm out here."
In order to protect himself from any batted balls, Wilson leaves the baseline coaching duties to Rob Harper and Matt Dennis. However, Harper's ejection during one game put Wilson into active duty.
"Coach Harper got kicked out for three games, so I had to go to third base," Wilson said. "I would like to be out there full-time, but coach Harper and coach Dennis do a great job. I just sit here and organize stuff."
Wilson ponders retirement and watching his 8-year-old grandson play baseball in Lexington, Ky., but he enjoys coaching the game too much. Thankfully, he has an understanding wife who respects her husband's wishes.
"I have a wife who is pretty understanding because she has been putting up with this for 25 years," Wilson said. "She took really good care of me, especially these last two years when I wasn't in very good shape after those heart attacks. I'm really grateful that I have a great woman."