MOSES LAKE — If you've played baseball in Moses Lake over the past four decades, chances are you played for Pete Doumit at some point in your life.
He's coached anywhere from T-ball to community college baseball. Now, at the age of 67, he figures to spend a little more time with his wife Faith, the grandkids and maybe get in a little more fishing time out on the lake.
Saturday's doubleheader with Blue Mountain Community College was the end of an era for the Columbia Basin baseball skipper.
“As far as I'm concerned, the run has all been about relationships,” said Doumit, who started his 45-year career in the spring of 1972. “What matters to me is how my players have responded and what type of people they've become. If I've had anything to do with shaping them or developing them into responsible, kind, loving people, then I've done my part.
“If I run across somebody that puts in a nice word about what it was like playing for me, that is most appreciated. It gives credence to the decision I made a long time ago to become a teacher and a coach.”
More than one player over the years went home with a note from Pete that read, “Wins and losses are soon forgotten. What matters most in life is the person you become.”
Kerry Garbe, whose son B.J. was part of the great 1999 Moses Lake team that was ranked No. 4 in the nation and was drafted No. 5 overall by the Minnesota Twins, looked on Saturday as the Vikings gave Pete a proper send-off at Viking Field prior to the swan song doubleheader with Blue Mountain.
“Moses Lake is great place to raise a family and it's because of people like Pete,” he said. “I still remember when B.J. came home with that note about wins and losses are forgotten, but the kind of person you become is not. Pete used to have all kinds of sayings he'd write down for the kids to help them remember.”
Another one of those sayings that is still prevalent today. “Play the game like you love it.”
It's things like that that make coach Doumit a special human being, said B.J. Garbe, who spoke on Pete's behalf on Saturday.
“Words, honestly, can not describe the way I feel about Pete the coach, or the friend or the mentor,” said Garbe, who is now the CEO at Ten Pin Brewery. “He is the example of what it is to be a man. He's a man of character and honor, with character and values … I've never met anybody like him. He led by example for all the guys he's coached for the past 45 years.
“I was blessed to be able to be coached by him. He made me a better man because of it. I have young kids now and the one thing I will always hold onto is that it's not about how good of an athlete or a student that you are, but what kind of person you are and what kind of impact you make.”
Maybe the crown jewel in Doumit's four-decade career came in 1999 when Moses Lake was the fourth-ranked high school baseball team in the nation and had three guys from that team go in the first 63 picks of the 1999 Major League Draft. Garbe, who was the Gatorade National Player of the Year that year, was selected No. 5 by Minnesota. Pete's son Ryan Doumit went to the Pittsburgh Pirates (No. 59). Jason Cooper was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies (No. 63).
“There are certain people that come along in your life that make a lasting impression. Fortunately, I had coach Doumit guiding me as a father figure. He taught me how to be a good person and a good man,” said Cooper in a telephone interview from Connecticut, where he serves as a special assignment scout with the Chicago Cubs. “He was interested in us as people and that helped us have respect for each other and the game. I'll never forget that.
“Coach Doumit never let us (the 1999 Chiefs) feel like we were more important than anybody else. He kept us grounded and that's a huge credit to him. He taught me how to be a man at a young age, and I think that's why we were able to find success later in life.”
It's not always easy playing for your father, let alone when your dad is the principal at your elementary school. But Ryan Doumit seemed to come through OK. There was that time when he and Garbe were 5-year-olds and got sent to Pete's office at Midway Elementary for starting a milk fight at lunch.
“My dad had a lot to do with teaching me the game of baseball,” said Ryan, who spent seven seasons with the Pirates, two with the Twins and finished up his 10-year Major League career in Atlanta.
“There's a right way and a wrong way and he taught us to win with class and to lose with class. You have respect for your opponents and the umpires. You don't take baseball for granted. He inspired me to play for the love of baseball.”
This season, Pete's 45th, was special in another way for the Doumit family. Ryan joined the staff at Big Bend and was able to coach one last season with his father. Ryan will stay on as an assistant next season when the Vikings usher in the Jameson Lange era at Big Bend Community College.
Pete Doumit coached his kids and everybody else's kids the same way: “Work hard, play hard and play the game like you love it.”
The Vikings sent him off with a sweep of Blue Mountain on Saturday. They beat the Timberwolves 18-8 in the opener and came back with a 3-1 decision in the late game to close out the season and pay tribute to the skipper one last time.
Pete Doumit's baseball coaching career
- 1979-82: Big Bend Community College
- 1983-85: Moses Lake High School
- 1995-99: Moses Lake High School (1999 team was ranked 4th in the nation)
- 2003-12: Moses Lake freshman team
- 2012-17: Big Bend Community College