Legendary Lompoc High Baseball Coach Dan Bodary Honored by Former Players, Friends | high school sports

So many friends.

So many memories.

You could write a book.

About 100 people attended Saturday for two events honoring the late legendary Lompoc High School baseball coach Dan Bodary.

The first was a celebration of life in Bodary’s ancient church, La Purisima Catholic Church.

The second, on the field named in his honor at Lompoc High.

Bodary died on October 24, 2021, at the age of 81, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage at his winter home near Traverse City, Michigan.

Bodary and his wife Beverly, who had been married for almost 58 years, still had a summer home in Lompoc, where the couple kept many of his former players and their families.

“We met when we attended Central Michigan University,” said Bev Bodary. “Until recently, he held the record in Central Michigan for the most stolen bases. The record was only broken three or four years ago, but Dan was always a baseball player.”

Bev and Dan moved to Lompoc in 1963, where they both started teaching at the Lompoc schools.

Dan, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Masters in Education from CMU, taught social studies, family life, and driver training during a 25-year career as a teacher at Lompoc High.

But Bodary was more known for his baseball career in California’s CIF Hall of Fame.

He coached the Braves for 36 seasons, going 615-284-13 (sixth all-time in CIF wins) with 18 league and four CIF Southern Section championships (and three CIF-SS runners-up).

Bodary was the runner-up for the National High School Coach of the Year award in 1986.

Over the years, nearly 30 of its players were drafted by major league baseball teams, six of which made it to the major leagues.

Bodary’s 1970s team still ranks #7 on the list of the Top 15 Teams in California High School Baseball History.

Longtime friend and assistant coach Jim McKaskle was the master of ceremonies for the day

McKaskle introduced 20 former players to Bodary and several others who did not play baseball but were students in his class.

“Dan was a good person – a good husband, father, teacher, coach. He was a role model for all of his former players and students,” says McKaskle. “Each of us owes a lot to Dan.

“Coach Bodary taught them well. Win with grace. Lose with dignity.”

Tom Harmon was one of Bodary’s former players and coaches – a catcher who later went on to play at Hancock College and the University of Arizona.

“It is a great honor to be a part of this program,” said Harmon. “I was proud to be a player and to be his pitching coach for 25 years. It was an honor to call him my friend for over 45 years.”

Dave Stegman was a teammate of Harmon at both Lompoc High and the University of Arizona.

“He was one of the best who ever played at the University of Arizona,” McKaskle said of Stegman. “He was an All-American in 1975-76 and led Arizona to the College World Series Championship in ’76 and is in the University of Arizona Hall of Fame.”

“We were blessed to start our lives in this city,” said Stegman, a former rightfielder. “We started playing baseball together when we were 9 or 10 years old and played together all through high school.

“Every Sunday we went to church and Coach Dan and Bev were there. He taught us that there is more to life than baseball. Now he has been called up to the Big Leagues. Good on you, coach. And thank you for holding this ceremony in the right field.”

“There was nothing better than growing up in this city, nothing quite like it,” said Roy Howell, who played for the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers. “The coach always said, ‘When you come to the stadium, there are two things you have to do: be ready and have fun.’

“As teenagers, we didn’t listen to Mom and Dad, but we did listen to Coach Bodary.”

“Lompoc is a special place. We were fortunate to be coached by Dan,” said Casey Candaele who played for the Montreal Expos, Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians and is the current manager of the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. “Coach Bodary has laid the foundation for all of us, both in life and in baseball. He was a great mentor and an even better person. We all wanted to play for him. We were all proud to play for him.”

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Monte Bolinger was a three-year starter for Bodary and the Braves and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971.

“The coach has made us all better men,” said Bolinger. “What he taught me I still use every day of my life.

“It is an honor to be here 50 years later. I know the coach isn’t here today, but his spirit will never leave this field.”

“It’s so nice to see so many Dan players here. They were like sons to us, that’s what they were,” said Bev Bodary. “It’s so nice that they are all here on this special baseball field.”

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