Gary Hatch during his 42 years of coaching and teaching at Sehome High School has enjoyed more memorable baseball games than surely he can keep track of.
But the Sehome community including family, friends, colleagues, former players and myriad other people whose lives Hatch has touched, offered the longtime ball coach one more game he soon won’t forget Monday night, June 29, at Joe Martin Field.
Roughly 250 people packed into Joe Martin Field’s main seating area to spend a special night honoring Hatch after the Sehome legend announced his retirement three weeks ago.
And, no, this was no ordinary retirement sendoff.
True to Hatch and his passion for the game, the ceremony contained vital elements synonymous with a baseball contest.
Hatch emerged onto the field in his Sehome baseball yellow and green uniform to throw out a ceremonial first pitch to his son, Dane Hatch. What followed was a one through nine batting order, including a DH, of speakers who shared how and why Hatch had impacted their life.
One by one, former players, colleagues and family spoke about Gary.
The list included Hatch’s brother, Greg Hatch, and his daughters Lonnie and Britt Hatch and son Dane. Colleagues including Bill Baker, Paul Petersen and Sehome AD Colin Cushman. Longtime umpire Don Murdzia spoke as well as close friend Ryder Cunningham and past players Dane Siegfried and Jason King.
Hatch followed, speaking for 20-30 minutes, and provided thanks to all those who had guided him on his long, successful career. He thanked his parents, his wife Lori, former coaches who’d helped him along the way, the Sehome community and many, many others.
At the end, Hatch threw a final batting practice on Joe Martin Field to whoever wanted one last chance to take a swing from Hatch’s seemingly robotic arm.
“Let it not be forgot, that there once was a spot, that for one bright, shining 42-year moment, that was called Camelot,” Hatch authored as a quote in a program offered at his ceremony. “Sehome High School was my Camelot. Thank you for your attitude, your effort and your commitment to excellence. Keep hustling. ... And I know you will.”
Gary finished his career with a 532-274 record, which places him sixth among Washington state baseball coaches. He won three state titles (1983, 2007, 2008), and his teams competed for six championships.
But Gary didn’t spend much time addressing wins and losses.
One particularly intriguing part of the ceremony came when Gary explained why eight jerseys were hanging on the fence behind where he was speaking. Five of them were of former players who had died but are still remembered by the legacy they left.
The other three numbers — 23, 42 and 10 — each held an important meaning.
Gary wore 23 for some time to remind his club that they needed to win two of three games during old three-game series Sehome used to play years ago.
No. 42 was to honor Jackie Robinson and how much he meant to the game.
No. 10 signified the extra 10 percent of effort he wanted to give as a coach to compliment the player’s 100 percent.