Maybe the most telling sign of how much respect Jimmie Lewis has in Columbia County came after Tuesday night's game between Harlem and Evans.
Despite being on the home field of a team that he battled throughout more than two decades, Lewis was congratulated by the public address announcer on the win, the 500th of his career.
Lewis becomes the second Columbia County coach to reach the 500 win barrier, joining former Evans and Greenbrier Coach Terry Holder in the 500-win club. Westside's Gerald Barnes is also a member of the club.
"Heck, it is a good number to have beside your name," said Lewis, who has won five state titles at Harlem. "But it really has to do with all the kids that I've coached at Harlem. I've never won us a game. I might have lost us a few, but I've never won one."
Harlem (15-7) jumped out to a 5-1 lead after the second inning and never looked back, cruising to a 9-5 win over the third-ranked Knights.
"I think that is hard to put into words," said Dietmar Perez, the Harlem pitching coach who was a starting player for Lewis during the coach's first season at Harlem. "Jimmie has taught me so much over the years, and it is special to be here for this milestone. I think it was better coming against Evans. When we were the only two county schools, the baseball games were huge."
The 52-year-old's overall record stands at 500-261.
Lewis said following the game that he wasn't sure he was ready to put the 500-win plateu into perspective.
"I don't know if I'll coach another 10 years, 10 weeks, 10 days or 10 minutes," he joked. "I'm not hanging on to pass anyone. Gerald is so far ahead of us anyhow, I'll never catch him."
Lewis could, however, catch his former rival Holder, who retired from baseball coaching with 527 wins. One of Lewis' biggest wins came in 1990, when the Bulldogs ended the Knights' 61-game winning streak seven games shy of the national record.