It’s close to 20 years since Jim Wasem last coached Babe Ruth baseball in Trail, but his legacy lives on and will be celebrated this weekend when Wasem, his players, coaches, organizers, and volunteers meet for a Silver City reunion.
For the uninitiated, Wasem, a Spokane resident, coached the ‘95 Trail Eagles baseball team to the age 16-18 Babe Ruth World Series that was hosted by Trail that year. The World-Class event was a huge success, and the fourth-place finish a tremendous accomplishment for a small smelter town in southeastern B.C.
Wasem continued to coach the Trail team until 1999, and many members of the World Series squad and the ones that followed still reside in Trail. Most, like Trail’s D.J. Ashman, carry on his example and continue to give back to the sport and the community.
“You look at guys like Mark Profili who is coaching today, at Dave Profili who still helps out coaching, and I’m still coaching,” said Ashman, a member of the ‘95 World Series team. “A lot of what I owe for my coaching and my expertise today is from what I learned from him.”
Many of Wasem’s players from the ‘95 team went on to play college baseball and beyond, including Jason Bay, the Profilis, Ashman, Darren McCarthy, Matt Mason, Todd Thompson, Dave Caron, Chris Florko, and Jeff Sell, and many more followed.
The 55-year-old Wasem, his wife Shannon, and his father, Jim Wasem Sr. will be on hand for the Trail Smoke Eaters game on Friday, and on Saturday, all former players, coaches, organizers, and volunteers are invited to attend an informal dinner with the Wasems at the Colander Restaurant.
“There’s going to be a few guys (from those teams) coming,” said Ashman. “It’ll be a good mix of guys. I mean we even invited a couple umpires … It’s going to be great, I think the stories are going to fly for hours.”
Wasem starred as a shortstop at Eastern Washington University and was drafted in the 25th round of the 1984 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants. He played five seasons of professional baseball at the single-A and double-A level, then went on to play in Europe for the Netherlands Neptunus leading the team to the Holland Series title in 1991. Wasem eventually followed in his father’s footsteps and took up coaching at Rogers High School in Spokane, where he was recruited by Dan Ashman to coach the Trail Eagles in the summer of 1994, alongside local assistant coaches Dave Colquhoun and Jason Startup.
“We had a good team, but having somebody that brings you to the next level was important,” said Ashman. “The stuff I carry on today is what I think is the best part of it … carrying on that coaching tradition.”
The informal gathering goes at the Colander on Saturday at around 5 p.m.
“We’ll do a meet-and-greet,” said Ashman. “Have an open mike where everyone can tell stories and then we’ll have dinner in the back room, we’ve reserved. Basically anybody that was involved with Jim Wasem while he was here during his time, we’d love to see them, and they don’t have to come for dinner, they can just come and say Hi.”
To reserve a spot at the reunion call D.J. Ashman at 364-3888.