After the sudden death of longtime baseball coach Joe Walsh, the Harvard program was thrown into flux as the athletic department attempted to find a replacement for the man who led the Crimson for 17 years. Out of the search for a manager emerged Bill Decker, the former head coach at Trinity College.
Decker was one of the most successful coaches in Division III history with a career record of 529-231—a .696 winning percentage.
As Trinity’s coach, Decker had 20 winning seasons in 22 years. He joins a Crimson team that has not had a winning season since 2006, when it went 21-20-1.
“Coach Decker brings a lot of experience and a lot of success to this school,” co-captain Rob Wineski says. “He’s had a very positive impact on the team already this year, and I think that will only continue as the program moves forward.”
Under Decker’s leadership, Trinity won NESCAC championships in 2000, 2003, 2008, 2009, and 2012. His best year was in 2008, when the Bantams went 45-1 and won the NCAA Division III National Championship in addition to NESCAC and New England Regional titles.
The team’s .978 winning percentage marked an NCAA record in all sports and divisions for a season of equal or greater length.
Decker has received numerous awards, including New England Coach of the Year five times, NESCAC Coach of the Year four times, and the American Baseball Coaches Association Coach of the Year once.
During his tenure, Trinity sent eight players on to professional baseball.
One of his pitchers, Jonah Bayliss, became the first NESCAC player to appear in a Major League game in 10 years when he debuted for the Royals in 2005.
“Coach Decker was always a terrific motivator,” Bayliss says. “He built in me the tenacity to never give up no matter what the situation may be. He has the mentality that even if the bases are loaded and nobody is out, we’re still not going to let anybody score. Only then have we done our job right.”
Throughout his career, Decker has not only exuded influence on the baseball field, but has also contributed to the Athletic Department in other ways.
A former All-American football player at Ithaca College, he has spent time coaching football, and during the 1999-2000 season was Trinity’s interim head football coach while maintaining his baseball responsibilities.
Decker has also tried to expand his responsibilities beyond athletics by playing a role in how his players participate in their classes.
“He was always a coach that held you very accountable,” Bayliss says. “I can recall our first meeting of the year. The first thing he always addressed was that we had better get our butts to class and sit in the front row. He made sure that all of his players were accountable for their actions on and off the field and demanded nothing but the most from his players.”
Decker’s players describe him as a focused coach who is very approachable but still is always in control.