Fresh off another district title and with his 70th birthday approaching, Frank Wright decided it was time.
The Eagle High baseball coach turned in his letter of resignation Monday, ending a 44-year coaching career and the tenure of the only baseball coach in Eagle history.
“The coaching part of it is still fun,” Wright said. “I would say the administrative duties of being a head coach wear on you after a period of time.”
Wright led Eagle to two state championships, four state runner-up finishes, three district titles and 12 trips to the state tournament in 20 years. His 2003 state championship club finished 29-1 and ranked No. 26 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball News.
“He’s put his heart and soul into that program,” Eagle Athletic Director Kimber Chrz said. “Not only obviously the hours that are spent coaching, but baseball and softball are unique in the sense that there is a lot of maintenance involved as well. He’s done a lot to improve our facility and grow our program and improve our program.”
If you hang on too long, you go out in unpleasant situation. I didn’t want that to happen. I went out my own terms. We had a district championship, and it just seem like a good time to finally pull the plug.”
Frank Wright, Eagle High baseball coach
The former Kansas City Royals farmhand began his coaching career at Buchser High in Santa Clara, Calif. After eight years, he applied for the Mission College job across town. He made it to the final three, but the day the school passed over him in 1979, Wright put his house on the market and moved to Idaho, where he and his wife vacationed.
“It was a big move, but it’s the best thing I ever did,” he said.
Wright spent his first year in Idaho in sales, a job he said made him miserable. He returned to coaching at Meridian High as the sophomore head coach and varsity assistant, winning state titles under Mo Brooks in 1985 and 1987. Wright then took over the just-opened Centennial program in 1988, leading the Patriots to state three times in eight years.
He said his favorite memories include the relationships he developed and watching former players excel at the next level. Three have reached the majors — Centennial pitcher Rick Bauer, who spent seven years with the Orioles, Rangers and Indians; Buchser’s Joe Charboneau, the 1980 AL Rookie of the Year with the Indians; and Buchser’s Mark Langston, a four-time all-star with the Mariners and Angels.
“And watching a kid like Andrew Ely now, that’s the big thrill for me,” Wright said. Ely, an Eagle grad, was named a Midwest League all-star Tuesday.
Wright said he’ll still coach privately, but he plans to spend more time fishing, bird hunting, golfing, writing — and with his wife and family.
“It’s time to make her a priority for awhile,” he said. “And I have a grandson that could use his grandpa around a little bit more.”