Baxter, 63, announced his retirement as head baseball coach of the Blue Devils on Tuesday. He said it was difficult to reach the decision.
“I wrestled with it a lot,” said Baxter, who ended his career with a state record 1,038 victories between baseball and softball. “It's the hardest decision I've ever made. I'm still wrestling with it, but I still think it's the right thing to do. I feel like it's time.
“I don't know how to explain it. It's just like life is full of decisions sometimes. I feel like I've done all I could do, and given it everything I can.”
victory total surpassed late Dobyns-Bennett basketball coach Walter
“Buck” Van Huss (1,021 wins) for those involved with boys'
Baxter's 2014 team went 28-8 and reached the Class AA sectional before losing to eventual state champion Christian Academy of Knoxville.
Baxter took over the Blue Devils' program in 1974. Ten years later, the Blue Devils earned their first-ever state championship by winning the Class AA crown.
Unicoi went on to win back-to-back state titles in 1991-92 and won again in 1995. The Blue Devils finished state runner-up six times.
Baxter also guided the Unicoi County softball team to a Class AA state title in 2002.
“It has been 40 years, and I've done as much as I think I can, and I've enjoyed it,” said Baxter. “I always wanted the program to be successful, and wanted the players to be successful not only in baseball but afterwards throughout life.”
Baxter's son, Andy, could be one of the people in the mix to be the next head coach.
“He would make a really good head coach,” said Baxter. “This year he pretty much did it. He's very knowledgeable.”
Baxter said he thinks the pieces are in place for the Blue Devils to continue being a strong program.
“I believe the program is in real good shape,” he said. “That's important to me. I feel like there are a lot of good players coming back. There's a lot of pitching, especially with Brandon Garland in the mix.
“We got the batting facility built, so that's something the new coach won't have to worry about.”
But, it still not easy to say goodbye, said Baxter.
“In my thinking there's never a good time because I will miss the players,” said Baxter. “I wish everybody the best, and hope the Blue Devils always win.”
For a more detailed look at Baxter's coaching career, visit: http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/116177/1-...