Crim: Adam’s Hall of Fame induction highlights career that ‘ended up being a pretty good gig’


Joel Adam, left, walks with his daughter, Claudia, middle, and wife, Amy, during the final home game of Claudia's senior season and Adam's final season as a coach. Adam spent 24 seasons coaching baseball and softball at Wentzville (Mo.) Holt and is being recognized for his career by being inducted into the Gateway Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. | Submitted photo

WENTZVILLE, Mo. — Joel Adam has a lifetime of ballpark memories.

Like the times he snuck under the fence at old Q Stadium as a kid to take batting practice with his dad, Bill. Or playing high school and American Legion baseball for Mike Hellenthal in Quincy before continuing his career at Culver-Stockton College.

There was getting into coaching and guiding two Holt High School teams to Missouri state championship games — one in baseball and one in softball — and seeing five of his players chosen in the Major League Baseball draft.

The best, though, was being able to coach his three kids — son Brady and daughters Meredith and Claudia.

“We raised our kids pretty much at the ballpark,” Adam said. “I coached 1,001 varsity games (baseball and softball combined), and I figured up they were on the team for 292 of them. I thought that was neat. My kids got to come to work with me. I got to work with my kids at work. Not many people can say that.”

Another memorable moment is on deck.

Adam, a 1984 Quincy High School and 1989 Culver-Stockton College graduate, has been selected for induction into the Gateway Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in recognition of a coaching career that spanned three decades in various sports, notably 24 seasons as head baseball coach and 13 more leading the softball program at Holt.

“I got the phone call the other day,” he said. “I wanted to call my dad (who died in 2021), but I couldn’t. Dad introduced me to baseball and Mike (Hellenthal) turned me on to it. Those are my guys.

“I did this mainly because of them. I was seeing (Hellenthal) having fun with it — he wanted you to have fun but do it the right way. When I was thinking about what I was going to do with my life, I thought, ‘If he loves doing it, I can do it.’

“It ended up being a pretty good gig.”

Joel Adam is pictured at Busch Stadium in St. Louis with his late father, Bill, left, and his son Brady. They were there to watch Joel’s former player, TIm Melville, pitch against the Cardinals. | Submitted photo

Adam’s baseball teams at Holt compiled a 396-243 record from 1995-2018, winning eight conference and a half-dozen district titles, finishing second in the Missouri Class 4 state tournament in 2007 and reaching the state quarterfinals a year later. The Indians posted 17 consecutive winning seasons to close out his career.

His softball teams went 273-89 in 13 seasons from 2007-2019, were ranked No. 1 in the St. Louis area in each of his final six seasons and captured the GAC title each year. The 2014 team, which featured Meredith, finished second in the state.

“That would be right up there,” he said of the 2014 softball season when asked about career highlights. “When you have a kid on your team, you wonder what it would be like one day to play for a state championship. I’m standing on the field thinking, ‘Here we are in the state championship game.’ ”

Adam also got a taste of what it was like to coach highly touted prospects.

Right-handed pitcher Mike Pontius was selected out of high school in the 43rd round by the Cleveland Indians (now Guardians) in 2006. He was considered one of the organization’s top five prospects until knee and shoulder injuries derailed his career before he reached the big leagues.

Left-hander Ross Detwiler, who graduated from Holt in 2004, turned down an offer from the Atlanta Braves to play for Missouri State. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals. He made his MLB debut later that year and played for 10 teams during a 16-year professional career.

Then there was Tim Melville, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound right-hander whose family moved to the St. Louis area from Virginia ahead of his freshman season.

“The family checked out Vianney and CBC and other schools, but they chose us because we had a guy named Detwiler who had 20 to 30 major league scouts at our games the year before,” Adam said.

“There are not many freshmen who can throw 92, 93 with pinpoint accuracy like he could. We had scouts 30 to 40 deep at our games. Walt Jocketty and other GMs were always talking to me. (Baseball writer) Keith Law of ESPN called many times, and he even flew in to watch Melville pitch.”

Melville was named the Aflac National Player of the Year as a junior and was rated the best high school player available for the 2008 MLB draft by Baseball America

Because he had committed to play for North Carolina, he wasn’t picked until 115th overall in the fourth round by the Kansas City Royals, who gave him a $1.25 million signing bonus.

Injuries plagued his career, however. He didn’t reach the majors until 2016 with Cincinnati and won only two games while playing for four MLB teams. He later pitched overseas.

“I was glad to be a part of it,” Adam said. “With the growth of Wentzville, we went from 5,000 people to 70,000, from one high school to four. We went from a school of 800 kids to 2,000 my last year. 

“We had 100 guys coming out for baseball the last few years, and we could only keep 60. Same thing with softball, the numbers were off the charts. Winning does that. I was in the right place at the right time.”

Joel Adam was able to coach his three kids in baseball and softball at Wentzville (Mo.) Holt. The Quincy native put together a career record of 669-332 in the two sports combined and will be inducted into the Gateway Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. Pictured, from left, are Brady, Joel, Claudia, his wife Amy and Meredith Adam. | Submitted photo

Adam, now 57, retired from teaching in 2020. He and his wife, Amy, a former college softball player who he credits with “putting up with a coach all these years,” wanted to follow the final year of Meredith’s softball career at Central Methodist College and the beginning of Claudia’s at Illinois College.

He is now the assistant to the head professional at nearby Innsbrook Resort Golf Course, where he coordinates scheduling part-time employees, among other duties. His employees include many of his retired coaching colleagues, and even Detwiler’s wife.

The Gateway Athletic Conference was created in 1971 with five schools and now boasts 18. Its Hall of Fame dates to 2015 and includes the likes of former MLB pitcher Mark Buehrle, who faced Adam and Holt while prepping at Francis Howell North.

“I looked and there’s not a lot of coaches, maybe 19 or 20 total (for all sports),” Adam said of the select company. “To be one of those is special.”

Like the other memories. 

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