Doug Wabeke, who led the Grand Rapids Community College baseball team to four national championships over 17 years, was named to the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Wabeke was one of four people named to the National Junior College Athletic Association hall. He’s joined by Rob Fournier, from Wabash Valley College in Illinois; Jeff Johnson, from Chipola College in Florida; and Andrea Gordon, president of Diamond Sport, which produces baseballs for NJCAA.
“The GRCC baseball program has a proud history, and the team was dominating when Coach Wabeke was at the helm,” GRCC Athletic Director Lauren Ferullo said. “It is wonderful to see him honored by the NJCAA, reflecting respect for his career, and the GRCC Athletics program.”
Wabeke played shortstop for what was then Grand Rapids Junior College and was a two-time All-American. He then played at Central Michigan University, earning All-MAC Conference honors and signing with the San Francisco Giants in 1980.
Wabeke enjoyed stints in the minor leagues with the Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates, climbing as high as Class AA before returning to West Michigan in 1984.
He began his 17- year head coaching stint at Grand Rapids during the 1987-88 school year. Wabake, nicknamed “The General” by his players, reached 500 wins in 1998, his 11th season.
The team won four total national championships, with back-to-back titles in 1996 and 1997, then in 2003, 2004.
GRCC Athletics this year celebrated the anniversary of the 1996 and 1997 titles by welcoming the Wabeke and former players and coaches at an April game at LMCU Ballpark.
Wabeke completed his coaching career for the Raiders in 2004. He also has served as head coach at Grand Valley State University, an assistant coach at Miami University in Ohio, head coach of the USA junior national team at the Pan American Games in 2003 and was part of the USA senior national team’s coaching staff on several occasions between 1994 and 2005 and was hitting coach at Davenport University.