He was a giant among men. He had a larger than life personality. He earned the respect of any and everyone he met. Those are just a few words that ring true when referring to legendary Paintsville baseball coach Charlie Adkins.
Adkins’s illustrious career in coaching began at Johnson Central in 1969. After a season with the Golden Eagles, he took his talents to Paintsville, the place he called home for the next 34 years.
The legendary coach retired in 2005 and five years later lost his battle with cancer on April 21, 2010.
Adkins played collegiate baseball at Morehead State University. He lettered four years for the Eagles, and during the 1964 season, he compiled a 1.48 ERA; an MSU record that still stands. The Eagles won back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference East Division Titles in the 1963 and 1964 seasons with Adkins’ help. He also finished the 1965 season with a 12-8 record and was the team leader in strikeouts with 55 that year.
Adkins returned to Paintsville after his playing days were over to teach his kids the valuable lessons he had learned from the game he so loved.
In his 34 years as the Tiger skipper, he compiled a staggering resume. He finished his coaching career with an 805-293 record, or a 73.3 winning percentage.
Paintsville won 20 district titles along with an eye popping 14 regional crowns. The Tigers advanced all the way to the state championship game in 1989, but fell to Lafayette 11-4.
They returned to the title game at UK’s Shively Field the following year, however, the outcome would be different as Paintsville defeated state powerhouse Tates Creek 10-4, giving the Tigers and Adkins the first state championship in school history.
Adkins had the privilege of coaching many star players in his career. One of the most well known, former Detroit Tiger Willie Blair. He helped Blair after his playing days at Johnson Central and while he was maneuvering his way through Morehead State and into the Major Leagues. He also coached UK great, the late Joey Couch. Couch is being inducted along with Adkins in the KHSAA Class of 2020. Couch and current Paintsville head baseball coach Walt Crace were both members of the 1990 state title team. In the mid-to-late ‘90’s, Adkins coached former Baltimore Oriole Craig Ratliff. Ratliff would go on to become the son-in-law of another Paintsville and San Francisco Giant great, Johnnie LeMaster.
Former UK basketball player and Tiger shortstop Todd Tackett also played for Adkins during his tenure.
Recent KABC Hall of Fame inductee Mayor Bill Mike Runyon also played for Adkins during his days as a Tiger, and nominated the legendary coach to be inducted into the KHSAA Hall of Fame. Todd Tackett has earned a spot along with Runyon into the KABC Hall.
Adkins left his mark on the Paintsville baseball program and the community that will last for generations. As Runyon put the Tigers on the map in basketball, Adkins did the same for baseball.
Athletes from Johnson County who never got to meet the legendary coach, will forever be connected when the take the field which is named in his honor, “Charlie Adkins Field.”
We may never see another with the same tenacity and will to win like Charlie Adkins. His passion to instill in kids the game of baseball or making young adolescents into men by way of the game which they have carried on into every facet of their lives was unmatched. Going into the KHSAA Hall of Fame is a well deserved honor for a well deserving coach.