Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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The long-time coach at Wooster is enjoying his legacy, and retirement, while keeping up with baseball through grandson Tyler, playing for the Buckeyes.

Columbus, OH – If you want to feel old in baseball…just look around and pay attention to players with the same names as those you played with back in the day.

You see them, and you fast forward life.  You wax nostalgic, or generational, about where the time has gone.  That’s exactly what happened last week when freshman Tyler Pettorini came to bat as a pinch-hitter for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

His father, Tim, was the son of former Wooster coach and Bowling Green Falcon, Tim Pettorini, Sr.  And Tim Sr. and I played summer league baseball together in the early 70s on the Worthington Steel team in the Mid-Ohio Industrial League.

It was not father like son, but rather grandfather like grandson as Tyler Pettorini lined a Brigham Young fastball to make an groundout, running full tilt to first, even though he was out by five steps.  Sitting in the shadows, taking it all in, was Tim Sr.

Tim Pettorini, who won 1,243 games as head baseball coach at the College of Wooster (for 38 years), 18 NCAC league titles, and 25 NCAA Division III tournament appearances, is retired now and living within ten minutes of where Ohio State played recently in the Snowbird Classic, in North Port, Florida.

He was there every day to watch, observe, and to be on hand if and when grandson Tyler made his first college baseball appearance.  After playing, after coaching, and creating a legacy of success that the next College of Wooster baseball coach will never equal, he counts his present situation as being the best yet.

“It’s the best thing ever,”  he smiled, that same crooked smile that he wore when he was twenty years old.  “It makes me choke up just to think about it.  You know, it’s what you live for…your family, your kids, your grandkids…it’s everything to me.”

His two sons, Tim, Jr. and Terry,  followed in his baseball footsteps – Tim Jr. playing for his dad at Wooster, while Terry played at Ohio State two decades ago.  Tyler is Tim’s son, and one of Ohio’s more notable recruits last spring when he blistered OHSAA opponents at Wooster High School, and made Prep Baseball Report’s Elite 25 all-state team.

Pettorini, Sr. grew up in Columbus, played three sports at Eastmoor High School, and has always been a Buckeye fan, even while turning down a scholarship offer out of high school to play baseball at Bowling Green, instead.

Now, there’s no question as to his loyalties.  As many in Tim Pettorini’s position who will tell you…regardless of what you did as player, or coach, it’s better – more gratifying – to watch your kids accomplish their own goals.  Pettorini agrees, and does not plan to miss it.

“I was not there as much as I would have liked with my own boys,”  says Pettorini.  He didn’t miss a moment of grandson Tyler’s debut in Florida.

“I was not there as much as I would have liked for my own kids,”  he admits.  “I was caught up in coaching and thankfully I got to  spend a lot of time with Tim, Jr. because he was playing for me at Wooster.  I didn’t get to spend as much time with Terry, who was younger and coming up.  So, with Tyler at Ohio State, it’s very gratifying to have the time to watch now and share with him.”

Coaches are often toughest on their own kids, their expectations higher.  Was that the case for the Pettorinis at Wooster?

“Tim, Jr. was everything I could have asked as a player,”  he laughs.  “His mother had other ideas, though, and those four years were probably the toughest in our 50 years of being married.  But Tim was a great player for us, and now we’re a lot closer friends than we were then.”

He retired in 2019, moved to North Port, but still maintains a residence in Wooster and goes back and forth on a regular basis.

“We’re back there all the time.  Our granddaughter is a great athlete, we were just back there watching her play for a week.  We have a lot of airline miles.”

But in North Port he plays golf every day, or whenever the boys, Tim and Terry, want to come and take his money.  When Tyler comes to visit, they go fishing together.

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“Tyler loves to fish, so that’s what we do.  He hasn’t picked up the golf clubs yet.”

Does he coach when he and Tyler are together?

“He grew up in Wooster, and he was always at the field with me at Wooster,”  said Pettorini.  “He took batting practice with the team, so I’ve coached him for a long time.  When we were home together over the holidays we went over to the college and I threw batting practice for him.  When he’s at home and I’m down here he calls twice a week, just to let me know what’s going on – at least twice a week.  No coaching, just keeping up with each other.

“I’ve always told him to work hard, which he does…stay positive, be a great teammate, and do all the things that coaches want you to do.  I’m just here to support him.”

He was there, supporting, on opening weekend, his eyes never leaving the field, during warmups, batting practice, and for that one appearance Tyler made against Brigham Young.  He didn’t get a hit, but he hit it hard, and ran hard…hustled.  All the things that a coach wants to see.

Tim Pettorini has never had it better.

Freshman Tyler (foreground) sprints to first base after grounding out against Brigham Young in his first collegiate at bat.

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