PASCO -- It's funny how one phone call can change your life.
But it happens. Ask Dave McKay.
The Canadian high schooler never had plans to play or coach baseball until the day Ed Maxwell, the Columbia Basin College baseball coach, dialed his number and offered him a scholarship.
"I probably would have gone to art school," McKay said. "And I probably would have been an architect in Vancouver."
Instead, McKay would eventually embark on an eight-year playing career in the major leagues. But he's better known as one of Tony LaRussa's right-hand men as an assistant coach for the last 26 seasons.
And tonight, McKay, along with Mark Kafentzis -- a Richland High graduate who played in the National Football League -- will be inducted into the CBC Wall of Fame at the sixth annual Follow Your Dreams Banquet.
"CBC is where it really all got started," McKay said Tuesday night. "I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and there wasn't a lot of baseball in the 1960s and 1970s in Canada."
But McKay played during the summer for a Connie Mack team, and Maxwell saw the youngster play in a Portland tournament.
McKay jumped at the offer to play for the Hawks, whose games were at the old Sanders-Jacobs Field in Kennewick.
"I was a pretty good athlete, but it was more as a soccer and basketball player," McKay said.
McKay tried out as a pitcher for the Hawks, but Maxwell also wanted him at shortstop.
"I didn't know how the game was played back then," McKay admits. "I was doing all of my learning at CBC."
But he never really gave the major leagues any serious thought until he moved on to Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
"That's where teams started talking to me," he said.
By 1976, he was called up by the Minnesota Twins. And over the next eight seasons, he either was with the big club -- Twins, Toronto Blue Jays or Oakland Athletics -- or in Triple-A.
During those eight seasons, McKay hit just .229 with 21 home runs in the majors.
In 1983, he spent a season in the minors as a player-coach and was looking to make a comeback in 1984 when the A's new farm director asked him to be a roving instructor.
McKay made the move, ending his playing career at the age of 33.
During that 1984 season, the A's fired manager Steve Boros and hired Jackie Moore, who wanted McKay to be his bench coach.
"Three years later, Tony (LaRussa) took over at midseason," McKay said. "He met with all of us coaches, and said that all of the people I want to bring in are coming in after this season. I'll do have a half-season with you."
McKay was the only coach LaRussa asked back for the 1987 season.
"We became good friends," said McKay. "He expects you to do a lot, and do your job. That's always the way it's been."
He was with LaRussa ever since, until the end of this last season, when the eventual Hall of Fame manager announced his retirement right after the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.
That made this past season real special, McKay said.
"I knew during the season that Tony LaRussa was retiring," he said. "He told (Cardinals pitching coach) Dave Duncan and I at midseason. So then we got real close a couple different times."
Facing Phillies ace Roy Halladay in Game 5 in the NLCS, then down 3-2 in the World Series against the Rangers -- those were times where McKay said he was most nervous, because he and Duncan wanted La Russa to go out with another title.
"It was an honor to be with Tony that long," McKay said. "You work hard for Tony."
Some people think that a first-base coach, which McKay is, does nothing but tell the runner at first how many outs there are and that's it. But McKay does much, much more than that.
"You keep times on all of the pitchers, to the plate and how they move to first," McKay said. "Also being the baserunning coach, it's the ideal place to be."
McKay keeps the baserunners thinking, looking for high throws, quick pickoff moves, what the opposing outfielders' arms are like to take that extra base.
He's also the team's outfield coach, and it's his responsibility to line his three outfielders up in the correct spot for each opposing hitter.
"There are spray charts, where every ball hit is shown," said McKay. "I have to put my outfielders in the right spot. You play to defend 90 percent of the balls they hit."
McKay says his favorite moments are his teams playing in six different World Series, three of which were world champions.
But even at 62, McKay isn't done with baseball.
"I was telling people for a while that when Tony is done, I'm done," McKay said. "The only way I'd go back is if the right opportunity came along. I did get some calls."
And he took one, when Dale Sveum, the new manager of the Chicago Cubs, asked him to be his first base coach for 2012.
"It's a great situation," McKay said.
And McKay also is looking forward to tonight, when he returns to Pasco to be honored and meet with some of those who helped get him started to a great life. A baseball life.
Kafentzis comes back to the Tri-Cities
Kafentzis is no stranger to halls of fame in the Tri-Cities. He's a member of Richland High School's, and he was inducted into the Central Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
As a senior at Richland in 1976, Kafentzis broke his tibia, and it limited his options for college.
He decided to stay home and play at CBC.
"We had two really good teams," Kafentzis told the Herald in 2004. "I played with Clint Didier. My sophomore year, we were national champs. I played on a team that had four guys who ended up in the NFL -- Clint, me, Lyndell Jones and Smiley Creswell."
That team was 10-0 and had 17 players go on to NCAA Division I programs.
"It was a good fit for me, to get a chance to develop my skills," he said. "I could have ended up at a smaller college and may not have gotten the look I did."
Kafentzis ended up at the University of Hawaii, where after his senior season he performed well at a mini-combine in Hawaii.
The Cleveland Browns took Kafentzis in the seventh round of the 1982 draft. Through training camp, he persevered and made the squad.
He spent three more seasons playing for the Baltimore Colts.