Boydson Baird, legendary coach and former professor and administrator at Maryville College, passed away Sunday, Jan. 24, in Maryville. He was 91.
An alumnus of Maryville College, Baird was hired in 1959 to be the college’s athletics director, head football coach and assistant professor of physical education.
He coached Maryville College on the gridiron for six seasons, 1959 to 1963, and then returned for one season in 1973. He was 27-23 with his best two seasons coming in 1961 (6-2) and 1963 (8-1). He coached basketball for several seasons and is also the third-winningest baseball coach in college history. His 1974 baseball team was the first Maryville College squad in any sport to qualify for the NCAA post-season with a 23-12 record.
During his 17-year tenure, a new physical education building (now known as Cooper Athletic Center) was constructed.
His coaching philosophy was centered on instilling certain moral attitudes in players, including an emphasis on teamwork and avoidance of unnecessary conflicts in games.
Reflecting on his life and vocation, Baird told a reporter in 2000: “Nobody could have enjoyed life any more than I have. I have a great family, and I’ve worked with some fine young people.”
A native of Kilbourne, Ohio, Baird followed brothers Weldon Baird ’39 and William Baird ’41 to Maryville College in 1937 and established himself as a versatile student-athlete for the Scots. He earned 10 varsity letters in basketball, baseball, football and track.
Following graduation in 1941, he entered the U.S. Army, where he served in the Pacific Theatre and participated in the Army’s athletics program, coaching squadrons and leading physical training. He later enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan and then Indiana University, where he earned a master’s degree in recreation and physical education.
His collegiate coaching career began at Davidson College, where he was hired to coach freshman sports and varsity basketball. He coached and taught at the College of William & Mary for seven years before returning to his alma mater.
Baird was inducted into Maryville College’s Wall of Fame in 1978 and served on the Wall of Fame’s selection committee for several years. He was also an active member of the College’s Blount County Alumni Chapter and was instrumental in organizing the chapter’s annual golf tournament.
In the early 1990s, the College launched a fundraiser to renovate the basketball courts and name them in his honor. More than 100 friends, family and former players gathered in the same gymnasium in 1998 to help celebrate his 80th birthday.
In 2001, Baird was recognized with the Maryville College Medallion, the College’s highest award. Recipients of the Medallion are chosen on the basis of exemplary service to Maryville College, outstanding service to their community and church, and prominence and leadership in their chosen profession or career.
On Monday, Maryville College President Dr. Gerald W. Gibson and Athletics Director Kandis Schram said Baird would be greatly missed.
“Coach Boydson Baird was one of the authentic legendary figures at Maryville College. Alumni whom he coached in earlier decades remember him with deep respect and, yes, love. He was a true teacher-coach committed to the development of his players not only as athletes, but as good human beings. You never saw him without a ready smile and a word of encouragement,” Gibson said. “On a personal note, he has been an inspirational friend to me over the time of my presidency, and I am thankful that he was still part of the life of the College when I arrived.”
Schram said his influence on the athletics program was evident even decades after he retired. In addition to attending countless Scots’ games, she said, he was a frequent visitor to Cooper Athletic Center, always encouraging coaches and student-athletes.
“Coach Baird was an amazing man who has been a friend and loyal supporter of Maryville College, even after his retirement. His strong Christian values and ethics became a cornerstone in the lives of the people he mentored. He always had a kind smile and inspirational spirit to share with everyone – it didn’t matter if they were a student-athlete, coach, administrator or stranger.”
Baird was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy Hubbart Baird; his parents, Lucy P. and Frank E. Baird; his sister, Helen; and his brothers, Weldon and William.
He is survived by his children, Faith Baird Carpenter ’72 and her husband, Kyle; Weldon Baird; Annie Baird Frick and her husband, Jay; grandchildren, David, his wife Kate, and Mary Carpenter; Laura, Ross, Henry and Bradley Baird, and Maggie Frick; and sisters-in-law, Aileen Baird and Marion Shipps and her husband, Frazier. Several nieces and nephews also mourn his passing.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Maryville College Athletic Department, 502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville, TN 37804, or to the New Providence Presbyterian Church Building Fund, 703 West Broadway Avenue, Maryville, TN 37801.
Following a private interment in the Maryville College Cemetery, a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 27, at New Providence Presbyterian Church in Maryville. The Reverend Dr. Emily J. Anderson and the Reverend Dr. Stan Rushing will officiate. The family will receive friends immediately following the service in the church’s Westminster Hall.