CONVOY, Ohio (WANE) – Death, taxes, Jim Wharton manning the third base dugout. Students have come and gone at Crestview High School, but the Knights’ head baseball coach has been a constant for four decades.

Wharton leads one of the winningest high school baseball programs in northwest Ohio. Since taking over the baseball program in 1984, Crestview has won 20 Northwest Conference (NWC) titles while advancing to the state semifinals three times.

In his 40th season, Wharton surpassed 600 career wins in a 10-0 win over Spencerville on Apr. 11.

Wharton’s decades of dominance almost never got off the launchpad.

A 1979 graduate at Snider, Wharton got his first taste of coaching at Northrop. As a student-teacher, Wharton worked alongside head coach Chris Stavreti in 1983. Wharton learned from a Hall of Fame coach as the Bruins went on to win the IHSAA state championship that season.

“You just learn how to structure things,” Wharton said. “How to pay attention to detail and how to have the best practice plans that you can, and how to treat people.”

Wharton was a student-teacher at Northrop during the 1983 season, working with head coach Chris Stavreti. The Bruins won the IHSAA state championship that season. (Courtesy: IHSAA)

Wharton would get his shot to coach his own program a year later. Across state lines, Crestview tabbed Wharton to lead the school’s baseball and football programs. Wharton’s football tenure fizzled out within weeks, and the coach was worried he wouldn’t make it to baseball season.

“As the school year went on, and I got to know the baseball kids and their families,” Wharton recalls. “Just the community here, it was a special, special bond. The kids I knew were going to be hard workers. Very respectful kids, and that tells you a lot about their families and their upbringing.”

The rest has been history. Through the years, Wharton has built a winning culture at Crestview.

“We don’t have the best baseball talent every year,” Wharton admits. “We have kids that are coachable, teachable, respectful and they’re going to do everything that me and my staff ask them to do.”

Wharton’s players not only appreciate their coach’s expertise on the diamond, but also in life.

“He’s just a great role model and every single time he’s coaching us up, he turns it into a life lesson to make sure we’re better people 25 years down the road instead of right now,” said senior Carson Hunter.

“He’s taught us how to be great men,” said senior Nathan Lichtle. “Growing up, as far as going down the road – 10,15, 20 years- he wants us to be great men. Not great players, but great men down the road.”

Season 40 may be winding down, but Wharton believes he still has a lot to offer for the Crestview community.

“It’s just being with the kids, and I’ll know when it’s time,” Wharton said. “When I feel like I know I’m not benefitting the kids, I’ll know it’s time.”