Minor baseball feels pain as longtime volunteer dies

Stan Baric was a dedicated volunteer who saved a baseball team despite going through cancer treatments, said a member of Kamloops Minor Baseball's Executive.

Baric, 73, died Monday, leaving a legacy of volunteerism and a love of baseball.

Melody Lowes, the KMBA secretary, said Wednesday that Baric coached minor ball in Kamloops in the 1970s, before spending the next few decades in Calgary. He returned to Kamloops in the mid-2000s, and served as a volunteer coach and member of the KMBA executive until his death.

"He was amazing," Lowes said. "It gives me goosebumps and chills just to think about all he did."

Perhaps the most telling thing about Baric and his love for minor ball, Lowes said, was his dedication to it, even while he was ill and undergoing treatment for cancer.

Lowes said Baric was a very private man who didn't tell many people that he was in treatment in Kelowna every week from Tuesday to Thursday.

Despite that, he stepped up to help a bantam team that desperately needed a coach.

"He couldn't bear the thought of those kids having their money refunded and not having a team," Lowes said, noting that KMBA tried for three weeks to find a parent who wanted to help out, but couldn't find a taker until Baric threw his ballcap into the ring.

"That team wouldn't be playing right now without him."

That team is still playing, thanks to Baric and a few other volunteers who will lead the way the rest of the season.

He was, according to Lowes, positive, energetic and respectful and the players showed the same kind of love for Baric that Baric showed for them.

"I think, at first, they were a little intimidated," Lowes said. "Then they respected him. Now, every kid I know who's been coached by him really loves him."

And he got them to love the game, too.

"Some kids wouldn't have come back to baseball if he weren't coaching," Lowes said. "And umpires, too. I know some of the young ones would have left if he hadn't helped them out."

Baric, a longtime employee of Canadian Pacific Railway, loved being around the ballpark, and often would show up to watch the players he had coached in previous years.

KMBA is thinking of a way to properly honour the man who was so many things to so many people.

"The executive wants to honour Stan and how much he gave back to the community," said an emotional Lowes. "I don't know how we're going to make do without him."

Baric, who is survived by a sister, didn't want a service, but asked that any donations in his memory be made to Kamloops Minor Baseball.

MHUNTER@KAMLOOPSNEWS.CA

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