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Baseball coaches celebrate win milestones by giving credit to their players, predecessors

Buford coach Stuart Chester hits career win No. 675, while Mill Creek's Doug Jones and Parkview's Chan Brown each hit 500.

By David Friedlander | Photo by Jamie Spaar

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — Different coaches react to milestone victories in different ways.

Such was the case with the way three coaches from one of Georgia's hotbeds of high school baseball — Gwinnett County — over the past 10 days.

Mill Creek's Doug Jones was first up, by getting the 500th coaching victory of his career with the Hawks' 4-1 win over Brookwood.

Buford's Stuart Chester was next up, with the Wolves providing career win No. 675 with a 14-2 rout of Region 8-7A Dacula.

Parkview's Chan Brown joined Jones in the 500 club with the Panthers' 10-0 win at Brookwood on Friday.

Jones, in his 24th season as a head coach, let his milestone pass without any fanfare for an understandable reason.

The past week has been an emotional one for him, as he was one of several featured speakers at Celebration of Life ceremony Sunday for the late Roy “Chief” Massey, a longtime assistant coach whom Jones played for during his high school days at Parkview and later served as an assistant with under Georgia Hall of Fame coach Hugh Buchanan.

Besides, the way he sees it, the 500-win milestone is as much about his players and assistant coaches, both current and past, as it is about him.

“I'm the wrong guy for this,” said Jones, who accumulated 113 wins over six seasons at Brookwood between 1999 and 2004 before building the Mill Creek program when the school opened in fall 2004 and gaining 303 more wins with the Hawks. “The numbers are great. I just cherish the relationships. … Everybody wants to win, and there's a lot of good baseball coaches in this world, and Roy (Massey) would tell you, he and I are both fortunate. I was fortunate that I got to go to school (at Parkview) as a kid. He was fortunate to end up in a job like his.”

Chester was blasé about his milestone win, especially since two bigger ones loom.

“It's (just) a number,” said Chester, who amassed 563 wins and six state championships in 21 seasons at Cartersville before coming to Buford following the 2017 season. “What I see in that number is a career (in which) I've had an opportunity to make a lot of relationships and have a good relationship with players and parents and just the opportunity to impact people and impact lives.

“I know people keep up with wins and losses and stuff like that. I just like the opportunity for the relationships and to impact people's lives.”

Chester will have to wait until next year to reach 700 wins even if the 17-0 Wolves win out in the regular season and then go on to win the Class 6A state championship.

But he could catch a coach he had a longstanding professional relationship with on Georgia's all-time wins list.

With seven more wins (Chester is at 676 after Buford's 9-2 win Friday at Dacula), he will move into sixth on the all-time list, past the late Harvey Cochran, who rolled up 682 wins over 42 seasons at Brown, North Cobb, North Atlanta and Mount Paran.

That would be a special milestone for Chester, who says he can think of few coaches he had more respect for than Cochran.

He also has plenty of respect for Jones and Brown, whom he has come to know by competing against their teams many times over the years.

“If you don't take something from (guys like) Harvey Cochran or (former Parkview coach) Hugh Buchanan or (former Wheeler coach) Dave McDonald, or (Georgia's all-time wins leader and current St. Anne's-Pacelli coach) Bobby Howard, you're going down the wrong path with your program," Chester said. "I think me, Doug, Chan — all three of us are all products of those four men, especially Coach Buck (Buchanan).”

Jones and Brown have an even more direct connection to Buchanan.

Jones first played for him and later served as an assistant to the Hall of Fame coach before taking the head coaching job at Brookwood in the fall of 1998, and then building the Mill Creek program when the school opened in 2004.

Brown briefly served as an assistant to Buchanan when he came to Parkview following stints as a head coach at Burke County and Elbert County.

He then succeeded Buchanan when he retired in 2004, and has continued his success by leading the Panthers to the last six of the program's nine state titles, including three in a row from 2018 to 2021 (excluding the COVID-shortened 2020 season).

“It's a special number, obviously,” Brown said after Friday's win and before the Panthers gave him victory No. 501 by out-slugging Hoover (Alabama) 15-14 on Saturday. “I've been very, very fortunate to be at Parkview a long time now. It's a special moment for me, but it's more about this program carrying on the tradition that Coach Buchanan started. That's what I try to do every day — make sure the legacy continues of Parkview baseball that he started.

“Doug was always someone I looked up to. Mike Strickland at Marist just got 500, too. Stuart Chester is a mentor of mine, too. So it's cool to get to that number. I just hope that at the end of the day, our first goal is try to win the region championship and put ourselves in a good spot for the (state) playoffs. That's the biggest thing for us right now, just to try to get better.”

The Panthers certainly were good for Brown's 500th win on Friday. 

Parkview pounded out 12 hits, led by three from Colin Houck, including a homer and a double and two RBIs, plus two more from Garrett Lambert, including the homer. Andrews Opata drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple.

But the big story was a run-rule-shortened perfect game thrown by Lambert (2-1), who added seven strikeouts to put the cherry on top for Brown, who was happier for his players than himself.

“I'm very fortunate to be in a great place at Parkview baseball in Lilburn and the community and these kids,” Brown said. I can't say enough about the kids. They work their butts off for this program every day year-round, pretty much. As you saw (Friday), it was pretty special watching Garrett throw the (perfect game).”