San Jacinto College legend for 16 years
By Amanda Fenwick
HOUSTON – Tom Arrington can soon add “Hall of Fame” to his signature, as the veteran coach will enter the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Baseball Hall of Fame this year.
“I am shocked and surprised. It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Arrington, who enters his 18th year at the helm of the San Jacinto College program. “As a coach, my success starts with the players. They are the ones playing the game. It is my responsibility to guide them and transition them along their path. I am very blessed and thankful to have this opportunity.”
Arrington owns an overall record of 742-298 (.713) in his 17 years as head coach. He has guided San Jacinto College to 13 conference titles, 11 regional championships, six national runner-up finishes at the Junior College (JUCO) World Series, four third place national finishes and one fifth place national finish. His 37 wins at the JUCO World Series is an all-time record, as is his 59 total games played at the prestigious national tournament.
San Jacinto College Assistant Coach Kory Koehler made the nomination to the NJCAA Hall of Fame Selection Committee, and says that he views Arrington as a mentor, friend and family friend.
“In my 18 years with Tom, I have learned a great deal about relationships,” Koehler said. “He is a leader on many levels. He runs a very organized program and emphasizes to his players and staff a need to grow and develop into community leaders. He cares for his players and for his staff as if they were his own family.”
Arrington began his coaching career in 1991 at the College of Mateo before moving on to San Francisco State University and College of Marin. He came to San Jacinto College in 2000 as an assistant coach, focused on the pitchers, and was named head coach in 2001. In the Spring of 2011, Arrington was appointed athletic director for the San Jacinto College North Campus. He played professionally for the Triple A team of the Texas Rangers; in Guadalajara, Mexico; for the Salt Lake Trappers; and for a Single A farm team of the Montreal Expos.
Arrington is an 11-time NJCAA Southern District Coach of the Year, and serves on several NJCAA committees. His service to the community and the sport of baseball, however, doesn’t end there. Each year that San Jacinto College qualifies for the JUCO World Series, the team is actively involved with the Challenger baseball program in Grand Junction, Colorado. The relationship between the San Jacinto College and Challenger baseball programs began in 2004 when Arrington reached out to Challenger director Carma Brown about the San Jac team being “buddies” to the Challenger players.
“Our relationship with Coach Arrington and the Gators began on that day, and it has flourished into a very special relationship as well as friendship,” said Brown in a letter of support to the NJCAA Hall of Fame selection committee. “The Challenger kids and program are better because of this cherished relationship. Tom understands the big picture and sees that his program and players are enriched by this opportunity as much as our Challenger players.”
In addition to working with the Challenger baseball program in Grand Junction, Colorado, Arrington and his players regularly visit children and families in the burn unit at Shriners Hospital to deliver toys during the holiday season. He and his staff also host a Little League coaches clinic for local little league coaches, and the team support breast cancer awareness efforts and military families during each season.
Several years ago, Arrington began recognizing former San Jac baseball players who have gone on to have successful careers both on and off the field as San Jac Legends. These players are honored at a reception and prior to the start of a game at the Tournament of Champions. Each player is also recognized on the outfield wall mural at John Ray Harrison Field at Andy Pettitte Park.
“We are so proud of Coach Arrington on all that he has accomplished at San Jacinto College, and congratulate him on his induction to the NJCAA Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Dr. Allatia Harris, San Jacinto College vice chancellor for strategic initiatives. “Year after year, coach Arrington leads a tremendous program that continues to have success both on and off the field. This honor and recognition is well deserved.”
The Mill Valley, California, native began his playing career at College of Marin where he was an allconference selection. He then played two years at Texas A&M University where he earned two letters, was an all-conference selection, and named the Southwest Conference tournament most valuable player. He also earned the C.E. “Pat” Olsen MVP award. He holds a master’s degree from San Francisco State University.
Since 2008, 11 of Arrington’s players have been recognized by the NJCAA for academic excellence. During his head coaching tenure, 12 student-athletes have earned NJCAA all-American honors. Each year, numerous players earn scholarships to continue their education and baseball careers at four-year universities or are selected during the Major League Baseball draft.
“I grew up watching him, going to Grand Junction, and seeing him get a lot of recognition,” said Alden Arrington, who is not only Arrington’s son but also a player on this year’s team. “Getting into the Hall of Fame is the ultimate goal for a coach, so it’s pretty cool.”
Arrington will officially be inducted to the NJCAA Hall of Fame during the banquet at the 2018 JUCO World Series this summer.
For more information about San Jacinto College athletics, visit sanjacsports.com.