I was shocked and dismayed to read in Thursday's Great Bend Tribune that Mike Warren, who has been a fixture of the Barton County College Cougar baseball program for three decades, would be taking the Cougars to the field without a contract for the 2013-14 season.
As a writer covering Golden Belt sports for more than 30 years, I had the pleasure to be introduced to Coach Warren in 1986, when I joined the Tribune sports staff. At that time, Warren was in the midst of a solid program, with then-assistant Curtis Hammeke.
After a brief stint as sports editor of the Tribune, I left in 1992, to pursue other journalistic endeavors; Hammeke, as well, moved on to Fort Hays State University.
Warren, however, stayed -- the list of players that have moved up to play baseball after their two-year tours in Cougar Columbia Blue at four-year programs and the semi- and professional ranks continued to grow. Ask Nate Field, David Sanders and Jason Stanford, MLB players all, about Coach Warren and they will say they got their first real mound experience at Barton County, with Warren as guide.
Warren currently is on the brink of 1,000 career wins, which is rare in the world of baseball at the two-year level. He is also a ground-breaker, serving as the first president of the Jayhawk Conference Baseball Coaches Association. He was both spark and torch-bearer of the Region VI East-West All-Star game, which takes place each fall. That event alone draws scouts from national ballclubs to view the talents of young baseball hopefuls in the state, who have proven themselves on the diamond but remain unnoticed during the regular season.
Baseball is a game of cycles, ups and downs, and is never judged by the performance of a single season. An 872-605 record over three decades is a mark that should be honored, not discarded.
Mike Warren IS Barton County baseball. If he still wants to coach, he should be contracted. I haven’t talked to Mike lately, but I'm sure that his willingness to keep on keepin on exemplifies his dedication to both BCC and baseball.
Let's end this nonsense now, and put him in the dugout, where he belongs.
Michael A. Gilmore