BEAVERTON — Oregon’s all-time baseball coaching win leader insists this season is it.
Astoria’s Dave Gasser has said this before. He retired in 2002 from Lakeridge, only to find a promising situation in Astoria a few years later. Five years and two state titles later, Gasser retired again, only to be drawn back to the Fishermen program in 2013.
But 2017 will be Gasser’s 35th and final season. It might not end until June 3, when the Class 4A state title game is contested in Keizer.
“This is how for real it is: At the end of last summer, I handed a written resignation to the principal, the AD, and most importantly, my wife. Thirty-five years is enough, to be living with a husband who is gone a lot, and always has baseball on his mind,” Gasser said
“This is a great group to go out with, but this is definitely sayonara.”
Gasser, 65, was lured back to Astoria for another run in 2013 when the Fishermen needed a coach. A group of eighth-graders, who attended Gasser’s first Astoria baseball camp as 7-year-olds, were about to enter high school, adding to the attraction.
Gasser’s commitment at the time was five years, ending when those eighth-graders became seniors. He’ll go out with those nine seniors whenever the season ends.
But it’s clear Gasser doesn’t think it’s going to end any time soon. Astoria (17-4, 12-2) are on the brink of winning the Cowapa League title. Most of this year’s team were part of last year’s Fishermen squad that reached the 4A semifinals.
Asked if this team could win Astoria’s fourth state title in 11 years, Gasser didn’t hesitate.
“Oh yeah, absolutely. We’re different. We’re very good defensively and we swing it. I mean, we swing it,” Gasser said.
Gasser headed into the final week of the regular season with a career record of 745-233 and five state championships (Madison, two at Lakeridge, two at Astoria). If he were coming out of college today to teach high school, Gasser said there’s not a chance he would have survived a 35-year run.
It starts in the classroom, where Gasser says the time commitment is much greater than when he broke into the business. The changing priorities in high school sports would have worn on him, too.
“The decimation of summer baseball, with the excessive football and basketball, makes it almost impossible to run a community baseball program the way I believe it should be run. That would have driven me out,” Gasser said.
One exception has been Astoria, where Gasser says it’s still possible to commit to summer baseball.
Gasser still has plenty in the tank. But time is winding down, and whatever time Gasser has left, it can’t all be about baseball.
“The benefits of coaching high school baseball when you’re 65 don’t outweigh everything else you could be doing that you’ve put off your entire life,” Gasser said.
Among things he’ll be doing in retired life: coaching his grandkid’s Little League baseball team. Of course.
“I’ll still help out at Astoria. Maybe be a part-time groundskeeper,” Gasser said.
Gasser walks away to the dugout to help a player find his keys when he’s asked one more time, you’re sure, this is it?
“I promise,” he said.