It began innocently enough almost 50 years ago, but a stint as a house league baseball coach soon grew into a life-long legacy of dedication and commitment to Trail baseball for the most recent recipient of Babe Ruth Baseball’s Roll of Honour.
Montrose’s Brian Pipes was recognized by the Pacific Northwest Region’s provincial commissioner Peter Stoochnoff with the Roll of Honour award on Wednesday in a special presentation at Butler Park.
The award is given to an individual, association or group that has made an outstanding contribution to Babe Ruth Baseball in the role of administrator, umpire, and/or coach/manager.
“Brian has contributed an awful lot to the Pacific Northwest local program, to B.C. Babe Ruth, and his dedication certainly set the standard very high for some of us,” said Stoochnoff. “It’s a great honour to be part of the program, and for Brian to set the pace for us to follow.”
For Pipes, the honour is one of many he has received over the years for his service in Greater Trail, but it brings a little more satisfaction due to its provenance.
“It was unexpected, it came as a surprise,” said Pipes. “You’re honoured and you’re humbled at the same time. When your peers recognize what you’ve done that says something.”
The 72-year-old retired Cominco worker has been involved in every aspect of baseball in Greater Trail, from player to administrative worker, and believes that awards like the Honour Roll should be shared.
“It’s not an individual award, it’s a group award, and the group is huge. I wish I could share this with all the volunteers, the young men and the young ladies who have crossed my path in the baseball end of it and the fastball end of it in Babe Ruth, and other organizations.”
Pipes began coaching house league in 1966 at the prompting of Brick Bisaro, and his knack for the game became apparent when he coached his team to the provincial championship in 1969.
Pipes continued coaching through the 70s but also began promoting the league through local radio and as a columnist in the local newspaper.
As an administrator, in 1974 he was elected league president of the Trail Babe Ruth Baseball League and appointed the B.C. District Commissioner. In 1980 Pipes became the B.C. Assistant Provincial Commissioner and in 2001 the Provincial Commissioner. In 2006, he began a three year stretch as the Assistant Regional Commissioner for the Softball program.
In 1995, one of Pipes’ career highlights includes bringing the 16-18 Babe Ruth World Series to Trail.
The other, after he helped form the West Kootenay Girls Softball League in which he coached from 1985 to 2005 and went on to win five provincial titles, was to lead his U12 Girls team to the 2004 Babe Ruth World Series.
“Being part of the group that brought the world series to Trail - the first time outside of Canada - and the one that every World Series since is measured by, was big. We still have the record for attendance, something like 118,000 fans and that’s incredible when you look at the size of Trail.
“The other one, would be 2004, when Rhodes and his daughter and I took a team to the World Series, again being the first Canadian team ever to go to a World Series, that was a highlight.”
During his tenure as coach, over 20 of his female fastball players went on to receive University and College scholarships in the U.S., and, while his coaching days have seemingly come to an end, Pipes continues to run softball clinics for eight-to-14-year old girls at the Willie Kraus Field House.
“With my partner and I, Richie (Richard Rhodes), we’ve had our successes, and the girls that we’ve sent off to different schools across the line, that makes it all worthwhile.
“Even if you get the odd girl that comes out and is really shy . . . but when you see them at the end of the clinic, or they come back for the next one, they are confident that they can play, and that makes it all worthwhile too.”
Pipes has also been a Kiwanis member for 20 years and Board Director for the past 10. He has been inducted into the B.C. Babe Ruth Hall of Fame, the Baseball B.C. Hall of Fame, the B.C. Softball Hall of Fame, and is a two-time inductee to Trail’s Home of Champions monument, and B.V. Citizen of the Year just to name a few. But through it all, Pipes remains humble and attributes much of his success and passion for the game to his family.
“The other three people i’d like to recognize, would be my late wife Joyce for putting up with me for all those years, she should be here sharing it with me,” added Pipes. “My two daughters, (Nicole and Stephanie) if they hadn’t taken an interest in fastball I never would have got into the fastball end of it.”
And as Stoochnoff explains, in the end it’s really not about the recognition.
“You don’t do it to receive any awards, you do it for the program that you love, and for the kids, that’s what it’s all about.”
Still, awards are nice, and in Pipes’ case, richly deserved.