You know that you have left your mark at an institution when it is said that the golden years of one of its programs occurred under your watch. Baseball coach Jim Wasem led the Bearcats for nine seasons from 1972 through 1981 and his accomplishments speak for themselves. Four of Northwest Missouri State's six MIAA championships were won by Wasem-coached teams. The other two came immediately following Wasem's departure.
When Wasem's teams stepped outside of Maryville for competition, he would always say, "If you play like steaks, we eat steaks. If you play like hamburgers, we eat hamburgers." Suffice to say that during the Wasem Years, Northwest baseball players ate a lot of steaks. Nine years at Northwest and each one of them resulted in winning seasons. Wasem was 221-119 overall - a .650 win percentage that remains the highest in program history.
The 1975 squad was perhaps his best and in fact was enshrined into the "M" Club Hall of Fame in 1996. That team finished 33-9, won MIAA and regional championships and was the first and only Bearcat team to advance to the College World Series where the team finished fifth in the nation. Northwest's teams competed in the postseason five times under Wasem, including 1980 when the Bearcats finished with the fourth-most wins in program history and a 34-12 record.
Wasem left his mark on a number of high school and collegiate programs before arriving in Maryville and in fact baseball is not the only sport he taught. In Illinois, he served as athletic director, baseball and basketball coach at Kinmundy-Alma High School in the late 1950s. He began the 1960s as a two-sport coach at Roxana High School before being named assistant baseball and basketball coach at Illinois State where he spent five seasons. Wasem served as head baseball coach at Monmouth College for five years before settling in at Northwest.
Former players of his remember Wasem as a staunch competitor who wanted to win each and every baseball game as much as he wanted to win a game of hearts or spades on rode trips. Wasem could handle a bat like no one he's ever seen said another. He was a master of the hit and run and bunt.
Wasem and his wife of more than 50 years, Jean, have two grown children and four grandchildren. After Northwest, Wasem went to Eastern Washington in the Pac 10 where he coached for 10 years before the Eagles dropped their program. He continued to be the head of the physical education program until he retired in 2000. The couple currently resides in the state of Washington.