If Joey Hiller had never played any sport and was just a baseball and softball coach, he still probably would have been inducted into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame.
His twelve state championships in baseball (11) and softball (1) combined with over 1,000 wins and a win percentage of over 80% obviously merit a great consideration, even at the rather young age of 48.
Hiller, one of eight members of the 2020 class who will be inducted into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame in early May, joins other inductees Brannen Veal, Robert Slocumb, and Jeff Treadway. “It is an honor to go in with so many fantastic players and coaches. I’m especially thankful to be inducted with Tattnall alumnus Brannen Veal (‘88), who I had the opportunity to play with when I was 16. And it has been a privilege to coach against Jeff Treadway. I have learned so much from him through the years in baseball and especially softball. We have developed a nice friendship through many years of competition.”
“To say I am honored would be an understatement,” said Hiller, who has watched close to sixty of his players play at the college level.
“I am very thankful for the opportunities I have been given at Tattnall Square, and this would never have happened without the support I have received from the other coaches and parents, and of course all the great players who I have had the honor to coach over the years. I am very humbled, and I know without a doubt, this is an honor not only for me, but also for the entire Tattnall Square Academy family.”
What made Hiller a front-runner for the Hall of Fame was a mixture of an amazing coaching career and a great playing career. Hiller, a standout pitcher at Stratford Academy, was drafted in the 49th round by the Atlanta Braves after high school. He chose not to sign and went to Middle Georgia College and then Columbus State and was drafted again, this time in the 18th round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Hiller played one year in the minors before a back injury forced him out of playing and into coaching. He returned to Stratford Academy, where he spent three years under legendary coaches Bubber Adams and Bobby Hendley, who he played for in 1990. After that, Hiller became a Tattnall Trojan and has never looked back.
Hiller attributes his success at Tattnall to the iconic Barney Hester. “Coach Hester taught me so much about how to institute, build, and maintain a championship culture. And who better to learn it from than him? He was a real mentor to me.”
Hiller coached football under Coach Hester for a total of six years (1997-2001 and again in 2007) and each of those years Tattnall played for the State Championship and won four titles. “What Coach Hester did at Tattnall is phenomenal. I learned so many details from him, but probably the most important was the consistency of ‘The Process’.”
“There are so many people to thank, who have played an instrumental part in this for me- God, my mother, my assistant coaches, other coaches, the student-athletes. But without the support of my wife, Cristy, who is always our biggest fan, none of this would have been possible. Tattnall is a big part of our home. It’s a big part of our lives. She has allowed me to pursue greatness. Without her support and the support of my daughter, Grace, I don’t know where I would be right now. They are the ones responsible for the success I have had. Their names should be on the plaque next to mine.”