Even though he’s now the winningest baseball coach in Edwardsville High history with 510 victories, it’s tough to get longtime coach Tim Funkhouser to accept any of the credit.
Funkhouser passed his former coach with the Tigers, Tom Pile, to become the school’s coaching victory leader. The milestone victory came Friday with a 4-1 victory over Lockport as part of the Edwardsville Tiger Classic.
Funkhouser sees himself as a caretaker of a great program that includes talented players, a strong coaching staff led by veteran pitching coach Mike Waldo and good support from everyone around him, including the local baseball community.
Edwardsville (26-1) was 17th in the nation in the latest USA Super 25 national high school baseball rankings. The Tigers are also first in the state according to the PrepBaseballReport.com state rankings and first in the News-Democrat Large-School (Class 3A-4A) poll.
The Tigers won state championships in 1990 and 1998 under Pile and since its inception in 1944, the program has made 14 state tournament trips. Edwardsville also finished second in 1991 and 2002.
Former Tigers Mark Little, Jason Boyd and Justin Hampson all played in the major league and the program has churned out numerous successful players on the minor-league and collegiate level.
“The success kind of drives the success,” said Funkhouser, who has a 510-131 record since taking over as a 25-year-old at Edwardsville in 1999 following three seasons as the head coach at Triad. “I feel very fortunate and blessed to be in the situation I’m coaching in now. You’re not only co aching in your home town and at the high school where you played, but with the support from the community, the administration, the coaching staff, our baseball boosters ... it’s been great.
“We’ve been fortunate we’ve had so many good players. Your success comes from good players —and good players that execute.”
Funkhouser replaced Pile, his former high school baseball coach, when Pile retired following the 1998 season. The colorful Pile guided Edwardsville to a pair of state championships as well as a No. 1 national ranking in his final season in 1998, winning 509 games along the way.
Funkhouser enjoyed playing for Pile and was a three-year starter and starting shortstop on the Tigers’ 1990 Class AA state title team.
“I had some great experiences with Coach Pile and I remember even coaching against him,” Funkhouser said. “That wasn’t as fun as playing for him.”
Funkhouser’s father, Bill Funkhouser, adds a 129-79-1 record to the family coaching total from his tenure as Tigers’ baseball coach from 1973 to 1980.
Still a regular at every game, Bill Funkhouser beams with pride whenever discussing Edwardsville baseball, his son or any of the players or coaches connected to the Tigers.
“He’s been so supportive over the years going back to helping me learn the game myself as a player,” Tim Funkhouser said. “I knew at a young age that I wanted to coach. As a player I really enjoyed the game and the competition and yet I think I enjoy coaching even more. I never thought I’d say that as a player because I really enjoyed the game and had such a passion for it.”
What part of dad’s coaching advice did the younger Funkhouser make a regular part of his own approach?
“Probably the biggest thing I learned from him was having the desire each day and giving it your all,” Tim Funkhouser said. “He was a great influence on my playing career and now my coaching career.”
Funkhouser also points plenty of credit for his own success toward the pitching coach work done by Waldo, a part of the Edwardsville coaching staff since 1980.
“He’s been the mainstay,” Funkhouser said. “He’s been a part of both ends of this and even some prior to that, so that definitely puts it into perspective for me. To see the energy and the passion of ‘trying to do good’ as he says ... it’s amazing. He’s still going about his business like he always was.”