Richland baseball coach Jacobs retiring

Tri-City HeraldSeptember 17, 2012 

— The Post-it Note placed on Mike Edwards' desk Monday was simple and to the point, completely out of character for its author.

I'm done

(only baseball)

-- Ben

With that, Ben Jacobs informed Richland's athletic director that one of the most successful coaching tenures in state history had ended.

"Shoot, (retiring) really wasn't my most favorite thing. It was hard to do," said Jacobs, 61, whose thirst for spinning tales and postgame beverages is topped only by his hunger for winning. "I still feel like I got good years left, but my kid is playing, that's the bottom line."

Indeed, the primary reason Jacobs is stepping down after 24 seasons as head coach is so he and wife Chris can follow their son Brett's baseball career at Washington State.

The proud parents have been frequent visitors to Pullman for the last three years and also have followed the team on road trips. However, when Ben matched up the WSU and Richland baseball schedules as he has done in the past, there were too many overlapping dates, and he wasn't about to miss that many games during Brett's redshirt junior season -- or take that much time off as head coach of the Bombers.

In his 24 seasons, Jacobs has posted a 433-155 record (16th all-time in the state), averaging better than 20 wins a season over the last 14 years. His four state titles are more than any other 3A or 4A coach, and he has 10 semifinal appearances, including six in a row. He was inducted into the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002 alongside friend and former Kamiakin coach Rex Easley.

During Jacobs' tenure, Richland has had 36 players named first-team all-state and five state player of the year winners -- Nate Holdren (1990), Grant Richardson (2001), Tyler Cheney (2005), Tyler Thompson (2007) and Brett Jacobs (2008, '09).

"You can't make chicken soup with chicken (poop)," he summed up in characteristic fashion, giving credit to his players and longtime assistant coaches, Roger Chambers and Tim Ruane, who have coached with him for more than two decades. "It's a real special place to coach, and it started way back in the '40s with Fran Rish."

Indeed, Jacobs is just the third baseball coach Richland has had in the last 65 years, with a line starting with the legendary Rish in 1947, stopping at Scott Woodward for 12 seasons and then going to Jacobs starting in 1989.

"He is Mr. Baseball," Edwards said. "That's the easiest thing to say. He's Richland baseball. Those are some big shoes to fill."

Edwards said the job will be advertised starting next Monday and will remain open at least 10 days. He said he doesn't have an idea on any candidates yet, but Jacobs certainly has one proposal: Chambers.

"Absolutely without a doubt," Jacobs said. "He's been there 23, 24 years with me. He's definitely qualified, and he has a lot of respect from the kids. He's done a good job with the kids, and he's a good coach."

For Chambers' part, he said he will wait before deciding whether to throw is ballcap in the ring, instead speaking about his longtime friend and colleague.

"It's a lot like losing your best friend," he said. "I'm hoping he might stick around and help out a bit. It would be a major change without him. He's the glue that held it all together -- held together loosely, but held together."

Hanging around and helping out is exactly what Jacobs has in mind, the former coach said, so don't be surprised if he still dons that familiar No. 1 in green and gold come next spring in a volunteer capacity. He just may be in coaches box behind first base rather than third.

"I'm just proud to be part of the program," he said. "I've had the time of my life on an athletic field."

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service