From Tateville to Kansas City: Longtime Somerset baseball coach Phil Grundy inducted into the Kentucky Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame

Jan. 19—As an athlete, Somerset High School alumni Phil Grundy was one of the greatest baseball players to ever come out this area. After an All-State career playing for the late legendary coach Charlie Taylor, Grundy played collegiate baseball at Western Carolina and later played nearly 10 years with the Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball organization.

Not long after his illustrious baseball career finally ended, Grundy came back to Somerset High School in 2002 to coach his beloved Briar Jumpers.

After 22 seasons and 461 wins as the baseball coach of the Somerset baseball program, Grundy was recently inducted into the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

"Being inducted into the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame has been a very humbling experience and I am honored," Grundy stated. "While it is an individual award, I did not get here on my own."

Grundy admitted that he never planned on being a baseball coach after his playing days were finished, but he felt compelled to take over the Briar Jumpers' baseball program after his mentor Charlie Taylor retired.

"Coaching after my professional baseball career had ended was not my plan, but my role model and mentor Coach Taylor was struggling with his health and SHS had gone through three coaches in three seasons," Grundy recalled. "After constant badgering by my great friend Mike Fox (who "retired" after 3 years) I reluctantly became the 4th coach in 4 years at Somerset. And I've had a great ride ever since."

That great ride has culminated in two region titles and seven region tournament championship game appearances in 22 seasons at the helm of the Somerset baseball program

"We've had talented players, great assistant coaches, supportive administrators and selfless parents over the last 22 seasons," Grundy vaunted. "As I stood to receive that award that so many others helped me earn, I reflected on all the great memories and blessings I've had. I've had the full support from the loves of my life, my wife Ashley, my sons Kross, Kade and Kole. I've been a husband, a dad, insurance agent and a high school coach for a lot longer than I played high school, college or professional baseball combined.

"To be in coaching this long, you have to have a family who loves baseball," he stated. "We have spent hours upon hours at our field from the time they were walking, to playing for me, and now coming back to cheer us on. Being a coach to my children has been one of the greatest joys in my life.

"The honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, to me, is more of a testament and honor to our program, our past and current players, and coaching staff," Grundy concluded.

Grundy has led the Briar Jumpers to 11 district titles and has had 17 seasons with 20 wins or more.

"As a coach they talk mainly about the number of wins or championships; I don't think of it that way," Grundy stated. "Every time I hear from one of our former players that they had a child and are doing well in life, I feel like we added a win with more to come. Watching our kids grow up and become great dads, great husbands and great people mean more to me — and our coaches — than anything else."

Grundy has never taken credit for his massive amount of wins or 22 years of success, but he said the success he had was due to great players and great coaches.

"I have never had a bad coach in my life," Grundy exclaimed. "I've been coached by the very best coaches at every level and I want to recognize them now. At Burnside Little League my coaches were Jerry Logan and Kenny Adams; my Babe Ruth coaches were Don Thompson, Luid Gover, Marshall Todd, Gerald Hines, and Don Denney; at Somerset High School my coaches were Charlie Taylor, Bob Tucker, Al Gover and Mark Fothergill; at American Legion my coaches were Gerald Hines, Al Grant and Mike Price; at Western Carolina my coaches were Jack Leggett, Keith LeClair and Bill Jarman; and with the Kansas City Royals my coaches were Tom Burgmeier and John Mizerock. While several of these men have passed away, their character, baseball knowledge, and life lessons are still being passed along to our players and I can't thank them enough. My hope is that our players take the good things these great men taught me and pass it along to their children and players. And I pray our players can look back and say they've never had a bad coach either."

Grundy also gave praise to the Somerset School System for their support of their tradition-rich baseball program, and the Briar Jumper parents who who have stood behind him and the program.

"I want to thank all of the Somerset administrators," Grundy stated. "Through my tenure at SHS, they have helped make our facilities top notch in the state, from the field house, to locker room improvements, to the turf field.

"Finally, I want to thank all the parents for trusting myself and my assistants to coach their child," he added. "During my time here at Somerset, we have had over 80 college signees, with 14 of those being Division 1.

Out of all the coaches that shaped and molded Grundy's baseball career, Charle Taylor stood out more than the rest. It was not just the baseball knowledge he learned from Coach Taylor, but his was the many life lessons his late high school taught him that he still lives by today.

"When Coach Taylor passed away a few months back, we gathered around at the memorial services and we all spoke of his commitment to God and that his life was one well lived," Grundy reflected. "Helping young men grow up to be better men, while I ignored some of the what not to do advice and cursed more trying to fix a pitching machine yesterday than he did in his entire life, I did heed his advice when it came to coaches. I've surrounded myself with great coaches and great Christians.

"Our current coaching staff of James Saindon, Kevin Wallace, Mike Reynolds, Davin Roberts, Chad Henderson, Eric Loy, Drew Miniard and our former coaches David Akin, Gary Conley, Taylor Tohill, Dan Thompson and Rick Girdler are some of the finest 'Human Beings' that I've ever met and I appreciate all of these men and those I didn't name I'll reach out personally to thank you."

Before the legendary Coach Taylor passed away, Grundy made sure his former high school coach was honored and reunited with the greatest baseball team in the school's history — the 1974 state championship team. Coach Taylor was able to greet and talk to each of the remaining 1974 players in a special ceremony staged on the Charlie Taylor Baseball Field.

Grundy stated of Coach Taylor, "Coach 'T' used to say 'From Tateville KY to Kansas City' , while I didn't make it to Kansas City I did end up exactly where God wanted me to be."

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