Bill McDonald started his 42nd year as a head baseball coach in late March when his Blue Valley West Jaguars entertained BV Southwest.
The veteran coach had his own baseball career ended early. The left-handed pitcher hurt his arm going into his sophomore year at the University of Kansas. But that has not stopped the 1962 Shawnee Mission North graduate from giving back to the game he loves.
He was part of the birth of baseball in the Shawnee Mission schools in the spring of 1974 when the district started the sport in all five high schools. McDonald started the program at SM South and coached at the school through the 2001 season.
His storied career with the Raiders had its up and downs, but mostly ups. The Raiders were 442-164 during his tenure at the school.
“We had great young people to teach and coach,” says McDonald. “Young people that wanted to excel in the classroom and on the field.
“On the field we appeared in nine state championship games, winning in 1975, 1979, 1981 and 1985.”
The Raiders under McDonald won 13 regional titles and 10 Sunflower League championships.
McDonald moved to BV West when the school opened in 2001 to teach physical education and coach the baseball team.
“I just thought I would try to start a program again as I did at South,” he says.
The Jaguars have had success with McDonald at the helm of the fledgling baseball program.
“In our short 14 years we have won state championships in 2007 and 2013 and we were state runners up in 2006, 2011 and 2012,” he says. “We have won nine regional championships and seven East Kansas League title.”
His record at BV West going into the 2015 season was 218-85, giving him a career record of 660-249.
The Jaguars were 7-3 in games through mid-April.
McDonald has an amazing ability to remember baseball games he has coached. Ask him what happened in the fifth inning of the state title game in 1975, he can tell you.
The veteran coach doesn’t want to mention players because there were so many in 42 years he has coached the sport.
What is his philosophy of coaching baseball?
“I want our clubs to be fundamental sound,” he says. “I want our pitching and defense to be cornerstone of our success and I want players to understand the value of being part of a team effort.
“I want our players to be humble and reach out to help others in our program.”
He adds that he wants to teach young men how to overcome adversity and never give in. He wants his players to be attentive to detail and wants his players to care for their teammates.
“I want to teach our players to always to compete to the best of their ability and if we should lose we all have to tip our hats to our opponent.”
Baseball has been a big item in the life of the 70-year-old McDonald.
“Baseball has taught me so much about being prepared,” he says. “My father gave me so many lessons about how to conduct myself as a person and a player.
“Before every game that I have coached I think that my mom and dad are in the stands watching me play or coach.”
He says that adversity and failure touches us all but baseball teaches you that the next game with a clean uniform on we can all start anew.
Baseball has taught the veteran coach that the game and life is full of setbacks, but if you really get back up you can be successful in anything you do.
And with his long career in coaching and teaching, McDonald has seen all sides of winning and losing. But he continues to get back up to fight another day.