For 16 years Scott Shaver pulled on the iconic “R” baseball cap, tugged the brim low and coached for the Post 16 American Legion baseball program in Roseburg.
His first five years were spent with the Class A Pepsi Bottlecaps. For the past 11 it was guiding the Dr. Stewart’s Class AAA team.
On Wednesday, he resigned with the second most wins in program history after a 23-23 season that ended with three straight one-run losses — the last two in the AAA State Tournament at Bill Stadium at Legion Field on July 28-29.
“I’ve been a baseball coach for a long time, and it’s something you don’t just do, it has to be a part of you,” Shaver said in a phone conversation Wednesday night. “My heart and soul was at Legion Field as a player and as a coach. I’ve given them 16 years (coaching) and I love it, I love the kids and I love the people in the stands.
“The direction the program is heading, I hope they can continue to remember that the kid is more important than the wins.”
There had been rumors over the past several summers that Shaver could be on his way out; he returned each summer to guide the program forward during a time when the local talent well was nearly dry.
Shaver had his best season, win-wise, in the summer of 2010. The Docs won the state title and went on to take the regional crown as well en route to a Legion World Series appearance. Future Oregon State pitcher Brandon Jackson was the ace of that team.
A shiny winning percentage was never Shaver’s goal; he preferred to schedule tough teams so the Docs would be ready to face — and beat — tough teams when the postseason arrived. Above all, though, he wanted the individual players to grow into a team that was greater than its parts.
He believed that the talent is on the rise again in the Umpqua Valley, and the summer of 2018 reflected it. The Docs faced five of the other seven state tournament teams and won the season series from the Mid-Valley Southpaws, who won the state title on the field but were stripped of the title for an ineligible player after the tournament.
Two members of the 2018 Docs are too old to return in 2019.
“We ended up 23-23 and we put a lot of young kids on the field, so they got experience,” Shaver said. “They should be fun to watch. They’re a good group of kids and I hope they have a lot of success. I think they got better as a team and they learned to compete with each other.”
Shaver plans to spend next summer doing many of the family things he hasn’t been able to do in the past 16 years. He and Andrea Shaver were married in the middle of the summer — which put them at a ballpark for their anniversary year after year — and he has been coaching Legion baseball for as long as all four of his children have been alive. The couple have two daughters — Alexa, 16, and Rylie, 13 — and two sons — Brayden, 11, and Teigan, 8.
“I’m going to be a dad, be a husband, and spend a lot of evenings at home,” he said. “But I’m a baseball guy, I’ll find myself at a ballpark at some point, just not as often. My wife is finally going to get an anniversary that isn’t at a ballpark.”
At some point, he expects to find himself coaching again, but not immediately. He has no interest in coaching Legion baseball in Grants Pass or Eugene. He anticipates spending a lot of time on smaller ballparks around Sutherlin, where the family makes its home, coaching his sons and shaping another generation of young ballplayers.
The American Legion Commissioners will reportedly begin interviewing candidates as soon as this weekend.
“They can’t wait too long, they have a schedule to set,” Shaver said.