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“Family and baseball.”

It’s a simple formula for Franklin baseball coach Jim Hughes. They went hand-in-hand July 8 when Hughes’ daughter, Jennifer, came up to him between games of a doubleheader against Greendale and alerted him that he had just registered his 900th career victory.

“At the beginning of the year, I looked at 877 and knew I needed 23, but that’s not an easy figure,” Hughes said. “I kind of just put that on the back burner, because to win 23 games, you have to have a pretty good season, and I wasn’t sure where we would be this year because we only had two full-time starters back from the year before. So I just wasn’t thinking about it, and when my daughter approached me, I was still kind of stunned. I didn’t really know what she was saying at the time, and then it hit me. I was making the lineup for the next game.”

The Sabers won that won, too, grabbing a 24th win (and 901st of Hughes’ career) heading into the WIAA postseason July 12. Jennifer, whose son Parker Plume played for Hughes and now plays for the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, served as her father’s statistician for seven years.

“She’s my greatest fan, so she would know.”

Headed toward 1K?

Hughes long ago became the state’s all-time winningest baseball coach, reaching that milestone in 2010. It was uncharted territory when he won his 800th game in 2013 and another round number when his team won an 11-6 battle over the Panthers.

Nine hundred will almost certainly be the final round number Hughes attains.

“No, I don’t think I’ll be around for the 1,000th,” he said. “That’s not a goal. I think I’ve kind of run the course and there are some other things I want to do in the near future. We don’t vacation very often and there are some places I’d like to see and things I’d like to do that I haven’t been able to do spending time with baseball.”

He expects to coach for another two years, which would give him an even 50 coaching in some capacity. He began his career as a football coach in 1970 and coached spring baseball at Milwaukee Washington until 1988, when he switched full time to summer baseball at Franklin after coaching both programs.

“When you live in the community you coach, that’s kind of special,” Hughes said. “When I was coaching at Milwaukee Washington, I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t really hip on the spring season because you start out in the gym and you have to cut some kids before they even get to the field. You had to make out two lesson plans every day for practice because you didn’t know if you’d be inside or outside, and when the opportunity came to take the Franklin job, I grabbed it up right away because I knew I could go out to the field the first day of practice. That was very important to me.”

Decorated career

When Hughes first took over the program full time, Franklin rattled off seven straight conference championships. Along the journey, he’s won two state championships in 2010 and 2011 and also coached his son (Buck) and grandson, with another grandson (Vince Hughes) playing football on a scholarship at Northern Illinois. Buck serves as defensive line coach for the football program that reached the Division 1 state-championship game this past fall.

Again, it’s a family thing.

“When you get into something, you really don’t look and say ‘I’m going 40-plus years,’ ” Hughes said. “You don’t do that. When I see it now, I say to myself, ‘I don’t know what else I would have done.’ I don’t think I would have done anything different. Baseball has been a big part of my life. I’ve got the perfect wife, because she was a coach’s wife beyond belief.”

On Aug. 19, he’ll celebrate 50 years of marriage with his wife, Judy, whom he met in high school at Milwaukee West Division, now the building that houses the Milwaukee School of the Arts.

“My wife said she doesn’t know what I’m going to do when I’m done coaching baseball,” Hughes said.

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