Billy Wagner, borderline Hall of Fame relief pitcher, now 10-year baseball coach at Miller School in Albemarle County, is the recipient of the 2023 Paul Keyes RBI Award, the Richmond Flying Squirrels announced this week.
The Paul Keyes RBI Award is given annually in memory of the late VCU baseball coach Paul Keyes to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the game of baseball within the Richmond community or from the Richmond community.
Wagner, a native of Tannersville, down in Southwest Virginia, and a Ferrum College alum, has been the head baseball coach at the Miller School of Albemarle since 2013, helping lead the program to multiple state championships.
“Billy Wagner had a Hall of Fame career as a player,” Flying Squirrels senior advisor Todd “Parney” Parnell said. “But what has stood out to me even more is what he has done as a coach since his playing days ended. He really cares about his players and showcases an immeasurable love for the game.
“Billy is an amazing person, and I am happy that he will continue the tradition of excellence with the Paul Keyes RBI Award,” Parnell said.
As a player, Wagner was a seven-time All-Star in his 16-year MLB career with the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves.
His 1,196 career strikeouts are the most in MLB history for a left-handed reliever. His 2.31 ERA ranks second all-time for relievers, behind Mariano Rivera, and his 422 saves ranks sixth.
Wagner has been inducted into the Houston Astros Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and is thisclose to being named to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with his name appearing on 68.1 percent of the ballots in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the 2023 Hall of Fame class.
Wagner has two more tries to get to the 75 percent threshold for induction, and seems destined to get the call in the 2024 HOF class.
Wagner will be recognized with the Paul Keyes RBI Award presented by Gail and Dave Clelland as part of the Flying Squirrels’ annual Hot Stove charity event on Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Altria Theater in Richmond.
Information about the event can be found here.