Brother Jim Ward, Beta Phi, ‘60, a UA baseball pitcher and rancher, died Jan. 7, 2018 in Abilene, Texas. He was 78.
Brother Ward won 30 games for the Wildcats between 1958-60, which ranks him fifth in career wins. He won 13 games in 1960 and led the Wildcats to the College World Series, where he was named to the all-tournament team. He also ranks 10th in career strikeouts with 292.
The Wildcats’ coach, Frank Sancet, Beta Phi ’33 coached Ward and his catcher was All-American Alan Hall, Beta Phi ’60. Several other Sigs played with Ward, including Mike Longo, Linn Wallace, Charlie Shoemaker, John Colyer, Bill Barraclough, Bob Wilson and Jim Geist.
Brother Ward played pro baseball for nine seasons in the minor leagues, running up a record of 88 wins and 84 losses with an ERA of 3.57.
He was inducted into the Wildcats Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
At that time, Arizona Daily Star sports columnist Greg Hansen noted that Ward was given to finishing most conversations with the two-word declaration: ‘Bear Down.’ ”
“Isn’t that strange for a man who graduated from college 54 years ago? Bear Down? Still?
“Ward isn’t one to be awed or cling to an old rallying cry unless it has a deep meaning. He routinely shared a dugout at Dodger Stadium with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. He struck out 16 Oklahoma State batters in the College World Series. He raised cattle. Owned a printing company. Graduated from the UA by taking 21 units his final semester.
“There isn’t much Jim Ward hasn’t seen. His baseball career was delayed while he learned to be a soldier at Fort Ord. His first wife, Nancy, died of cancer 22 years ago. He lost his first ranch, his cattle business, after four years of a Texas drought.
“Can you imagine what it would take to move a man to tears after all that?”
“It was a phone call from (UA associate athletic director) Phoebe Chalk in August,” he says. “I thought, ‘Well, they’re going to ask me for some money,’ but that wasn’t it at all. She said, ‘Congratulations, Jim, you’ve been elected to the UA Sports Hall of Fame.’ ”
Ward broke down in tears.
“I was speechless,” he told Hansen. “I started bawling. My son was in the room, and he said, ‘What’s the matter, are you OK?’ I just couldn’t express myself, but, you know, it’s the greatest thrill of my baseball life.”
“Much like predecessors Lee, Thomas and Baldwin, Ward became a Big Game pitcher.” Hansen wrote. “He went 30-7 in 39 career starts, including a breakout 13-1 season in 1960 when he was itching to pitch against defending national champion Oklahoma State in Omaha.” He struck out 16 Cowboys and beat them 2-1.
“My years at Arizona set the foundation for my life,” Ward told Hansen. “I’ve had a lot of adventures, but as I think back, almost nothing was as satisfying as the day I got my degree. My mom and dad were in the audience. They were so proud. I was a Wildcat for life.
All Honor to His Name.