Mount Baker senior baseball player Kolton Zender is frequently reminded how deep baseball is embedded in his family’s roots.
Pictures hang on the wall of his home depicting the 1956 Deming Loggers semipro baseball team. The club won a state championship that year, earning a trip to Wichita, Kan. where the Loggers lost the national title game.
The photo is a Whatcom County sports relic, but to the Zenders it owns extra meaning.
Nine of the 17 Loggers were Zenders — all brothers.
That’s right. Pete, Jack, Nick, Dan, Lawrence, John, Jim, Dick and Bernie all played together when they weren’t working for their logging business. This summer will be the 60th anniversary of their special season.
“Baseball has been in our family for generations now,” Kolton said. “So my grandpa Red (Lawrence) and his brothers started playing minor league baseball, starting the Deming Loggers. From there all their kids played. My dad played and his brothers played, and I have had many cousins that have played. I just love the game. Our pastime is baseball, and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Two generations since Red shared the field with his eight brothers, playing in Whatcom County at Mount Baker High School and against the Bellingham Bells at Battersby Field, the Zenders again are filling up baseball rosters, and softball ones, too.
Twelve Zenders are playing ball this spring.
At Mount Baker Anya Zender, Bailey Harkness and Brooke Harkness are playing softball, while Chad Cohn, Hayden Linderman, JJ Kalsbeek, Kolton and Zandy Zender are playing baseball.
Joining the Mount Baker group whose roots connect back four generations to Anna and Peter Zender are Meridian’s Brayden Zender (baseball), Blaine’s Tessa Kelly (softball), Nookack Valley’s Rachel Sande (softball) and Sehome’s Natalie Zender (softball).
“My mom put me in (softball) really young,” Kelly said. “It was really in sixth grade when I started to enjoyed it. I realized it is actually fun. Everyone in my family has played softball and baseball.”
Like Kelly, most Zenders are exposed to the sport at an early age.
Kolton grew up watching his two older sisters play softball and his older brother play baseball. He remembers going to their games and wanted to become an even better athlete than they were.
“I think it’s awesome we have 12 kids playing baseball,” Kolton said. “We’ve got to know each other not just through sports and school, but at church and family events.”
When family reunions come up, the Zenders know baseball or softball always serves as a good conversation starter.
“My grandparents always try to make as many games as they can,” Kelly said. “My uncle might ask, ‘How’s softball going?’ It’s an easy topic. We can talk forever about softball, have long discussions.
For Kolton, he isn’t quite getting the experience his grandfather Lawrence, who played with eight brothers 60 years ago, got, but he is playing with four cousins.
And for Lawrence, while he no longer plays the game, he stays plenty busy getting to as many games as he can.
“My wife and I travel most of the county all the time,” Lawrence said.