Gary Hatch has done some pretty remarkable things on the baseball diamond over the past four decades.
In his 40 seasons as baseball coach at Sehome High School, Hatch has led the Mariners to 519 wins and three state championships. In the past two seasons as Bellingham Bells coach, he's added 57 wins (entering play Tuesday, July 30). And don't forget about his countless accolades with USA Baseball.
But the humble Hatch has never gotten a big head about his accomplishments - at least not until now.
The Bellingham Bells announced plans on Tuesday to honor Hatch's significance in Whatcom County by passing out bobbleheads in his likeness before their West Coast League home game against the Bend Elks on Saturday, Aug. 3. The first 1,000 fans to pass through the gates at Joe Martin Field before the 7:05 p.m. will receive a free bobblehead in a promotion sponsored by Sound Beverage Distributors.
"It's not just the Bells," Bells general manager Nick Caples said in a phone interview. "We just happen to have the platform. Coach Hatch has (four) decades worth of coaching and teaching baseball in this community. We want to celebrate and honor Gary for all he's done for Whatcom County, not just the Bells."
Caples said the Bells annually give out two bobble heads per season - one of the mascot (Dinger) and one of an individual.
"We just felt it was the right time to honor Gary," Caples said. "He's been teaching life lessons through baseball for so long. I know a lot of people feel there are parallels between the two. Many kids have worked with him, not only in baseball, but with him being a PE teacher (at Sehome). Everybody knows who he is, and he's had an impact on so many people. Guys and girls, when they talk about Coach Hatch, they all talk about what fun he was and what an unforgettable guy he is. If you go to Sehome, you know Gary Hatch."
Hatch has also meant a lot to the Bells during his near-two seasons at the helm.
Last year he led the team to a 32-22 regular-season record and into the WCL playoffs for the first time. This year, the Bells enter Tuesday at 24-20 and tied for the North Division lead.
"His position is really tough," Caples said. "The bigger picture, he's taking Division I baseball players, who are big men on campus at their schools, and they come to a smaller town and look at it like their playing for a 2A high school coach, and they might think this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. It only takes the first practice and about the first 15 to 30 minutes to realize he knows what he's doing. We've had guys come up to us and say they wish they could play for somebody like Gary on their own teams."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.