At 5-foot-7, Larry Heinz was never the tallest player on the baseball field.
But he was always one of the best.
Heinz, who had a 317-82 record in 17 seasons as a baseball coach at Rochester High, was nearly flawless with a baseball glove while playing second base for Spokane Falls Community College in the 1960s.
He played the entire 1966 season without making an error, earning him all-region honors. He also played guard on the school’s basketball team that reached the NJCAA regional, losing 100-98 in double overtime to an Arizona Western College team led by a guard who went on to become an NBA All-Star, Nate Archibald.
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“He scored 62,” Heinz said. “He was pretty good.”
So was Heinz. Good enough to be recently inducted into his junior college’s hall of fame.
Sports and coaching have been a big part of Heinz’s life.
“I grew up in a single-parent home,” Heinz said. “My role models, mentors, were coaches. That’s what I always wanted to do.”
Heinz was named to the Washington State Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005.
“If you talked to a kid who played for me, they’d say we were disciplined. Pretty strict,” Heinz said. “We worked a lot on fundamentals. Not too many situations came on that we weren’t ready for.”
After earning all-league honors at Spokane Falls, Heinz transferred to Whitworth to play baseball. But he ran into some eligibility issues when he transferred from a quarter system to a semester system. In the middle of the Vietnam War, Heinz lost his college deferment and ended up in the Air Force.
Instead of playing baseball, Heinz spent seven years in the Air Force that included two tours of duty in Vietnam working as an air traffic controller.
“They were strict on the rules and I wasn’t considered to be a full-time student,” Heinz said. “So, I was drafted.”
Heinz, who won two state titles at Rochester, had a knack for mixing fun with hard work. A couple of Wednesdays each season, he’d take his team to a Centralia Community College baseball game, treating them to hamburgers and pop.
“I know that practice can get monotonous,” Heinz said. “It helped the kids bond together and they also got to learn from watching some good baseball.”
UNDER THE WEATHER
Tim Healy is feeling better about feeling bad.
The Saint Martin’s women’s basketball coach missed Thursday’s game against Central Washington with the flu. After missing practice all week, he went to the doctor for intravenous fluids and is doing better. On Monday, he missed another game.
In his absence, assistant coach Lisa Hendrickson has filled in, helping the Saints go 2-0 with wins over Central Washington (53-50) and Pacific Lutheran (77-44).
The two wins and the Saints’ four-game winning streak and 6-2 record have Healy feeling much better.
Despite his pneumonia, he was back at practice Tuesday and he is hoping to be back on the bench coaching at 7 p.m. Thursday when the Saints play Northwest Nazarene at Marcus Pavilion.
A REBOUNDING MACHINE
Dara Zack is the cure to the missed shot.
The Saint Martin’s senior forward from University High in Spokane pulled down 20 rebounds in the win against Central Washington, including a conference-record 12 offensive boards.
Zack now has 700 career rebounds and ranks 14th on the GNAC career list.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 email@example.com theolympian.com/sports/blog