Wednesday, June 16, 2010
WALLA WALLA - Like your typical Little League coach, Tim Boutz can rattle off names of former players and events that he has witnessed on the baseball diamond with the best of them.
Stories fly from his tongue like bees from a disturbed hive.
Unlike your typical Little League coach, Boutz has a far greater inventory of memories from which to draw upon.
When the fuzzy-haired 62-year-old leads his Cox-Jones Insurance team from the Walla Walla Valley League into this year's All-City Championships at the Pacific League field, he will be putting the finishing touches on his 40th and final year as a Little League coach.
"There is an energy level that I don't really have anymore," Boutz related last week in a 7 a.m. interview.
The interview was scheduled at that early hour because Boutz had an 8 a.m. tee time at Veterans Memorial Golf Course. He scheduled his golf round early, he said, because he planned to play handball at the YMCA at noon. And, of course, the handball game couldn't be pushed back to a later starting time because he had to be at Little League practice that afternoon.
He's still teaching some classes, too, even though he retired in 2008 after a 33-year teaching career at Walla Walla Community College's Washington State Penitentiary campus. Twenty of those years were spent as WWCC's educational director at the prison.
No wonder his energy level is low.
Boutz grew up in Walla Walla and attended Wa-Hi where he graduated in 1965. So he'll be dividing his time this weekend between the All-City tourney and his 45th high school reunion.
At Wa-Hi, Boutz played football and wrestled, and he also swam for the YMCA Swim Team.
"I wrestled just one year, and not very well," he recalled. "When I was 17, I could swim 100 yards in less minute. Now I can't swim that far without stopping to rest."
It was football that first brought Boutz into the realm of youth coaching in the fall of 1970.
"Shelby Blevins, Ray Needham, Frank Wheeler and I were involved in starting a (youth) football program at the elementary schools in town," Boutz said. "I had the kids from Assumption, Washington and Jefferson, and it was really fun."
That following spring, Boutz remembered, he contacted one of his neighbors, Stan Klees, who coached the Wholesome Bread baseball team in the old Walla Walla National League.
"I called to ask if there were any (coaching) openings in the National League," Boutz said. "Stan said, ‘There's a meeting tomorrow night. Come with me and I'll give you the Wholesome team.' So in a matter of two days, I had my own team."
The bread company dropped its Little League sponsorship early in Boutz's tenure, and the team became McDonald's, which it remained until 2001.
"That was the year McDonald's decided not to sponsor the team," Boutz said. "So for one year we became Charter Cable,"
The following year, Walla Walla's National and American leagues merged to form the Walla Walla Valley League. And since the more established sponsors were assigned to the major league teams, Boutz's team became Cox-Jones Insurance, one of the charter sponsors of the now-defunct National League.
Boutz doesn't recollect how many league championships his teams won or how many All-City appearances they made over the course of four decades. But it's not difficult recalling McDonald's 7-6 victory over Bur-Bee in the 1982 All-City championship game.
"That was the only year we won the All-City," Boutz said. "There were a couple of other teams that could have won it. We won the league two years in a row, but we ran into this big kid from Pacific, Kent Christensen, and he beat us both years."
This year's team is another that could go all the way, Boutz believes.
"This year's team is the best I've ever had," Boutz said. "We lost our first game of the season and we've won 20 straight since."
One of his players is his grandson, Skylar Gladden, one of eight 12-year-olds on the Cox-Jones roster.
"He's the reason I'm still here," Boutz admitted. "When he was 10, I picked up three other 10-year-olds in the draft and thought any one of them could have been the No. 1 pick in the draft. That gave me five 10-year-olds who all started together, and I've added three more to that group since."
Four of those players were selected to last year's 11-year-old Valley all-star team that finished third in the state tournament in Gig Harbor.
"And as far as I am concerned, two others should have been on that team," Boutz said.
But winning, as those all-stars did last year and Cox-Jones has so far this season, is secondary to what Boutz believes to be the true value of the Little League experience.
"You want to teach them to win the right way, and also make sure they know that it's not all about winning," Boutz said. "The important thing is to make your best effort and focus. If you do that, you can tell the other team nice game whatever happens and still feel good about yourselves."
And when the final out is called, the bats are sacked and the 2010 Little League season is in the book, Boutz figures there will still be plenty to keep him busy. There are three other grand kids to keep track of, and he's starting to get serious about golf again after all these years.
"And I think it's going to be fun to go to the games of some of these Little League kids as they get older," he said. "I've never been able to do that."
That is, of course, if he has enough energy and can work it into his schedule.
1976 - Cummins Athletic Supply, American League
1977 - Baker Boyer Bank, Pacific League
1978 - Bur-Bee, Pacific League
1979 - First Federal, American League
1980 - Baker Boyer Bank, Pacific League
1981 - Continental Can, National League
1982 - McDonald's, National League
1983 - Seattle First, American League
1984 - Old Stone Mortgage, American League
1985 - Bur-Bee, Pacific League
1986 - Frontier Federal, American League
1987 - Mr. Ed's, National League
1988 - No tournament
1989 - Bur-Bee, Pacific League
1990 - Teamsters, Pacific League
1991 - Teamsters, Pacific League
1992 - Cummins Athletic Supply, American League
1993 - Baker Boyer Bank, Pacific League
1994 - Teamsters, Pacific League
1995 - Farmer's Co-Op, Pacific League
1996 - Grocery Outlet, American League
1997 - Farmer's Co-Op, Pacific League
1998 - Touchet, Pacific League
1999 - Teamsters, Pacific League
2000 - Cummins Athletic Supply, American League
2001 - Grocery Outlet, American League
2002 - Mr. Ed's, Valley League
2003 - Tom's Chevron, Pacific League
2004 - Fire Department, Valley League
2005 - Mr. Ed's, Valley League
2006 - Mr. Ed's, Valley League
2007 - Mr. Ed's, Valley League
2008 - McDonald Zaring Insurance, Pacific League
2009 - Sun Rental, Valley League
(Last Appearance in Parenthesis)
Mr. Ed's 21 (2008)
Union-Bulletin 20 (2009)
Bur-Bee 17 (2009)
Tom's Chevron 16 (2009)
Grocery Outlet 15 (2001)
Cummins Athletic Supply 15 (2008)
Dairy Queen (Teamsters) 14 (2003)
PowerAde (7-Up) 13 (2006)
Baker Boyer Bank 12 (2007)
Farmer's Co-Op (Valley League) 12 (2009)
McDonald Zaring Insurance (American Fine Foods, Chiquita, Seneca) 12 (2009)
McDonald's 10 (1999)
Farmer's Co-Op (Pacific League) 9 (2006)
Seattle First 9 (1999)
Meridian Mortgage 9 (1996)
Cox-Jones Insurance 7 (2005)
Banner Bank 7 (2009)
Waitsburg Lions 7 (2009)
Frontier Federal 6 (1990)
Touchet 6 (2008)
Wendy's 5 (2000)
Oil Can Henry's (Dayton Coleman Oil) 5 (2009)
Sun Rental 4 (2009)
Newbill-Munns 3 (1980)
We're Sports 2 (1982)
Big Cheese Pizza (Little Caesars) 2 (2000)
Dayton Fire Department 2 (2008)
Police Guild 1 (1999)
Bowlaway 1 (1976)
Jackson Motors 1 (1976)
Prescott 1 (2000)
Dayton Chevron 1 (2002)
Dayton American Line Builders 1 (2004)