The 1987 Aggies Baseball Club won the Senior Babe Ruth Regional at Civic Field in Port Angeles and were the first area club to play in a Senior Babe Ruth World Series.

The 1987 Aggies Baseball Club won the Senior Babe Ruth Regional at Civic Field in Port Angeles and were the first area club to play in a Senior Babe Ruth World Series.

BASEBALL: 1987 Aggies World Series team to be recognized Saturday

PORT ANGELES — Freshman, Rat, Cookie and the rest of the gang will be recognized as part of the Aggies/Wilder Baseball Alumni Game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Civic Field.

The 1987 Aggies Baseball team, the first North Olympic Peninsula team to qualify for a Senior Babe Ruth World Series, will be honored during the kickoff event for the program’s 40th season of summer travel ball on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Admission to the game is $5. Former Aggies/Wilder players are invited to play in the event on a donation basis. Registration begins at noon with batting practice beginning soon after. All proceeds will go back to support Wilder Baseball Club.

A Wilder Senior game against Bellingham will follow at 7 p.m.

Aggies, founded in 1979 by Scott Brodhun and Sam Hurworth, became known as Wilder Baseball Club in the 1990s when Wilder Automotive took over as lead sponsor.

Uniformly, Wilder Junior head coach and former Wilder player Zac Moore said Brodhun stood out in the memories of Aggies players he spoke with in putting the event together.

“[Derrin] Doty said he was the best coach he ever had, including UW and the minor leagues,” Moore said.

Rob Merritt said the coaching staff imparted the important lesson of valuing a hard day’s work.

Alternately nicknamed “Rat” or “Socrates,” Merritt was a third baseman on the 1987 Aggies squad, one of two Port Townsend players on the team along with John Kvinsland. Merritt later managed Wilder for a good stretch beginning in 2007 and now has a son, Brody, on the Wilder Senior team.

“Scott Brodhun and Scott Gant, those two I remember vividly,” Merritt said. “Those guys taught us how to work.”

Brodhun is the assistant city manager of Petaluma, Calif. He managed the Aggies/Wilder program from 1979 to 2006 and remains a Wilder Baseball Club board member.

“We had kids from Sequim, Port Angeles and Port Townsend on that team,” Brodhun said.

“There was a good level of skill there — really good size, strength, speed and quickness. But the willingness to devote themselves further and develop their skills was really obvious. They really liked to play, compete and be together and that gives you an opportunity. They were willing to be coached, willing to be coached hard.”

But there also was some leeway for teenage hijinks.

Thor Gunderson, aka Skinny, hooked up some speakers in the Aggies vans and the team traveled with a soundtrack selected by Brodhun.

“The condition was they would play the music that I chose,’ Brodhun said. “So I introduced them to the music of the 1970s. All it took was one road trip before they were in love with Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton. It was all 70’s guitar rock it was loud. Thor could fit so many speakers into those vans.”

Ultra-competitive card games would follow back in the hotel after games at road tournaments.

“Playing cribbage was huge,” Brodhun said. “Teams were developed on the way to the site, tournament brackets were made up and competition was fierce. If not cribbage, it was poker, but we put limits on that. Or it was whiffle ball in the parking lot, any number of things. We’d require that they stick together, the kids liked being together.”

And the team was talented.

“You look back at it I think it was just a solid group of players all the way around,” Merritt said of Aggies. “I think nine or 10 of us played college baseball and two of the guys were drafted [in the MLB Draft].”

Merritt, who went on to pitch for Green River, Linn-Benton and at George Fox under eventual NCAA-Champion Oregon State coach Pat Casey, is correct on that front.

Scott Bedford, who at age 16 was the youngest player on the 1987 Aggies, was drafted as a catcher out of Edmonds Community College by the Seattle Mariners in 1990.

Sequim’s Derrin Doty was taken by the then-California Angels in the 17th round of the 1993 MLB Draft out of the University of Washington. Doty hit .402 that season and stuck around for four seasons in the Angels minor league system.

Variously known as Farmer, Freshman, or Ed, Scott Bedford also was known for his appetite on road trips.

“Jeff Fryer told me that Bedford used to eat cereal out of hotel room ice buckets,” said current Wilder Junior head coach and former Wilder player Zac Moore.

Brodhun has a different memory.

“My recollection is they all did. That’s not fair to single out Scott,” Brodhun said. “Grossest thing you’d ever see. Those [hotel] rooms stunk [after tournaments], they ate meals out of ice buckets. We were a little low budget back then, four or five guys to a room.”

Teaching his players how to conduct themselves on road trips was part of the learning experience.

“Our goal was to develop kids who wanted to go play in college and knew what that meant,” Brodhun said. “Practice that way, compete that way. Another part was teaching them about travel. It was important to learn how to behave and be invited back. Before we left those hotel rooms they were squared away and ready for service.”

Before checkout however, it was often open season for practical jokes.

“Another really funny story we laugh about to this day,” Brodhun said.

“We were at a tournament and [Assistant coach] Rick Hurworth was going to have to work on the departure day, so we knew he’d be coming in late and we put him in room wiith three other players. Rick got there at midnight and went to use the bathroom and discovered that somebody had left something behind in the toilet. So, Rick wakes the kids up and asks them who would just leave the toilet like that. The response was, ‘I have no idea coach. Except Mrs. Brodhun knocked on our door, said she had to use the bathroom really quick and ran out.’

“George Drake was the player who said that and we joke with him to this day about it.”

Port Angeles hosted the Senior Babe Ruth Regional Tournament in 1987, the same weekend as a Port Angeles High School class reunion.

With fans heading over to Civic to support the area team still in suits and dresses from the reunions, Aggies, led by Regional MVP Kevin Root triumphed — setting off a Port Angeles-wide party.

“We were playing Chafee, probably the favorite to win the tournament,” Merritt said. “I don’t know if they were better than us, but we kind of manhandled them to reach the World Series. That final game, I think somewhere in the 3,000 range had come through the gates. They stopped letting people in around the fourth inning.”

Merritt said he enjoys these alumni games.

“What it does is reestablish connections with the younger group, the current players, in seeing how special this is,” Merritt said.

“We’re kind of a mini-college style program. These other teams meet at tournaments, stay at hotels with parents and have a different kind of experience.

“With Wilder, the kids all stay together, ride the bus together, have dinner together. There’s a handful of teams that do that, but I think it really separates us from the other programs.

“That’s what will happen in college. They will go away from Mom and Dad and I think it kind of gives them a head start.”

Brodhun, who set out to do just that — prepare area players for the rigors of college baseball because he himself felt less than prepared when he reached that level — loves to hear that statement.

“I’m still on the board, still know what’s happening with Wilder and I’m proud of that program and proud of how it continues to develop players who go on to play college baseball,” Brodhun said.

________

Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Peninsula Daily News                                The 1987 Aggies Baseball Club won the Senior Babe Ruth Regional Championship at Civic Field in Port Angeles and were the first area club to play in a Senior Babe Ruth World Series. The team will be recognized as part of the Aggies/Wilder Alumni Game set for 3 p.m. Saturday at Civic Field.

Peninsula Daily News The 1987 Aggies Baseball Club won the Senior Babe Ruth Regional Championship at Civic Field in Port Angeles and were the first area club to play in a Senior Babe Ruth World Series. The team will be recognized as part of the Aggies/Wilder Alumni Game set for 3 p.m. Saturday at Civic Field.

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