WILMINGTON – When it comes to athletics, it would be tough to argue there is a higher individual honor than being selected into a hall of fame.
No matter the sport, no matter the level.
Being recognized by teammates, opponents, coaches or media are elements that lead to a hall of fame induction, and players strive to be blessed with that admiration at sometime in their career.
However, when a single athlete finds himself being named a member of seven different hall of fames in just over a 10 year span, that athlete’ss ability on the playing field is unquestioned.
Beginning with his 2005 induction into the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame, Tim Haley has been honored for his extraordinary slow-pitch softball accolades throughout the state of Ohio.
Over the past two years, Haley, who comes from a true softball family and followed in the softball footsteps of his late father, Jack, has been recognized by some of the elite slow-pitch hall of fames in the state.
In 2015, Haley became a member of the Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame, earlier this year he was inducted into the Ohio All State Hall of Fame, and will be honored by the Columbus USSSA Hall of Fame later this year. Haley was also elected to the Dayton USSSA Hall of Fame in 2010 and was named a Dayton, Ohio Legend of the Game in 2011.
“None of these accolades would be possible without the coaches and sponsors who made it possible to play and travel all over the United States,” Haley said.
Haley’s career began in 1973 and he quickly rose through the slow pitch softball ranks. He was an early member of the legendary Lima Steele’s, and also played for other great teams throughout his career such as Bill Marine Ford, Ohio Players, Danny’s Drilling, Carroll Marathon, Jay’s, R&D Transport and Columbus Pipe.
His softball endeavors took him to 38 states around the country, appearing in such prestigious tournaments as the Agler, Baron’s Classic, Stroh’s, Thoroughbred Classic, Cincinnati Metro and seven times in the Smoky Mountain Classic.
“I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to play in some of the best tournaments, and softball gave me the chance to play with some of the most talented players in the nation,” Haley said.
Haley is quick to praise his entire family for constant support through out his softball years, but the beginning of it all goes back to his father, Jack. Tim began playing with his father as an upstart teen in the early 1970s and pinpoints Jack as his role model and reason for falling in love with the sport.
“My dad provided me direction, inspiration, guidance and vision when it was needed most. I could always count on him,” Tim said. “Dad was a loving father, a faithful husband to my mom, an outstanding teacher and a beloved teammate to me.”
With his father’s great influence on his softball career, it came as a bittersweet moment when Tim learned of his induction into the prestigious Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame last year. He received his acceptance letter mere days before Jack passed away in December 2014.
“I was able to tell him [Jack] him about the honor before he passed, so that was a blessing,” Haley said. “If we are lucky, there are a handful of times in life when we know for sure that we have made our parents proud. We don’t have to ask them; we just know. That was one of those moments, and one I will deeply cherish.”
Haley is the owner of numerous all-tournament selections, MVP awards and home run trophies. He estimated he hit more than 6,000 home runs in competitive league and tournament action throughout his career, and was honored as a member of the 1971-1981 All-Decade Steele’s Sports team. Haley’s best single season arguably came in 1983 when he was an All-American selection.
During his career, Haley won 17 state championships, was the MVP in five of those, won 4 home run titles and was named 1st team all-state in 11 of those 17 tournaments. In total, he won more than 20 total tournament MVPs, more than 40 home run titles, two one-pitch national tournaments and sported seven third-place finishes in the national tournament.
A couple of career highlights that stick out for Haley include playing in front of 10,000 fans at the Smoky Mountain Classic in Tennessee, as well as playing in states all over the country, from California to Florida. When asked to name the best team he ever played for, Haley said the 1980 Steele’s Sports team as tops.
Throughout his career, Haley had numerous supporters with his family being right there for the journey.
“My mom was always one of my greatest supporters,” Haley said. “She traveled to many tournaments and washed a lot of dirty uniforms.”
Blake covers high school sports for the News Journal. Reach Blake via email [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @BeeLakeH