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‘Gordie’ is Coach of Year


In an extremely unusual decision, the North Bay League baseball coaches this year chose an assistant coach as the league’s Coach of the Year. As a tribute to his quarter-century contribution to what is, arguably, the most successful high school baseball program in the North Bay, the NBL coaches honored Casa Grande High School’s Dominiqe “Gordie” Wirtz.

Wirtz has now left the Gaucho dugout after 25 years of assisting, advising and generally being indispensable to the Casa program. It is impossible to define exactly what Wirtz does or why he is so valuable to the Gauchos. In his younger days Wirtz, a standout sprinter in high school, was a hands-on coach for Casa base runners. In the latter part of his tenure he confined himself to handling administrative chores and providing advice to head coach Paul Maytorena.

But his most important job, in his own words, has been “helping the kids.” Need a kind word, go to Gordie. Need a wake-up call, listen to Gordie. Need a reminder about what it means to be a Gaucho, pay attention to Gordie. Need someone to just listen, tell Gordie. He has been the glue that holds things together for the Casa Grande baseball team for 25 years.

And what a 25 years it has been for the Casa Grande High School baseball program. During his time in the Casa dugout, the Gauchos have won 11 league championships and have played in the North Coast championship game 10 times, winning six titles.

Now, Wirtz says it is time to move on. Not that he will be leaving baseball. One of the reasons for leaving the Casa dugout is so he can spend more time attending his three grandsons’ Little League games. He has twin grandsons, Caden and Clint, playing in the Valley League and one, Aiden, in the National League.

“I’ve missed a lot of their games, and now I can travel and I want to be able to travel and see them play a lot more often,” Wirtz said.

The coach doesn’t leave without some reservations. “I loved everything about Casa Grande baseball,” he said. “I loved being at the practices, the games and being around the coaches. I’ve made friendships that will last forever, and I loved the kids. I’ve seen more than 200 kids come through the program.”

Wirtz won’t totally lose contact with the kids. He is retaining his position as a campus security/supervisor where the same outgoing personality that made him such an effective baseball coach has made him a popular and effective friend with all Casa Grande students.

“I love being around the kids,” he said. “They keep me young. They are so open. They like to share and they like for someone to listen to them.”

It also helps him keep track of the baseball players and other athletes. If he finds an athlete headed for trouble, all it usually takes is a word for Wirtz to, as he explained, “Get them headed in the right direction.”

One person Wirtz will especially miss is Maytorena.

“Paul and I are very tight. It is almost like father and son,” he explained. “Paul is a very bright coach. He doesn’t have a cooke cutter approach at practice. When he sees a weakness that’s what we work on at practice.”

Wirtz enjoys being around all the Casa Grande coaches, several of whom are former players who have returned to help the program. He is especially close to Ralph Gentile. “I have a deep respect for him,” he said. “He is a sterling man and very knowledgeable about baseball.”

Maytorena said Wirtz has been invaluable to both him and the players through the years.

“I don’t know if Gordie has meant more to the kids or to the staff,” the head coach said. “When we say we are family, we mean family and that means both on and off the diamond. He has meant so much to me personally.

“He takes care of things that need to be done, especially for the players. It is nice to have him around the school. He tells me things I need to know and takes care of things I don’t need to know.”

As evidenced by his choice as Coach of the Year, Wirtz has made friends not only at Casa Grande, but throughout the Redwood Empire.

“There are a lot of coaches that are my friends,” he explained. “Between the lines we compete, but after the game we can all be friends.”

During his time at Casa he has worked with some extraordinary baseball players — players like Jonny Gomes, Joey Gomes, Louis Ott, Chad Fillinger, Anthony Bender, Francis Christy and, this year, Spencer Torkelson, plus many more.

“There are so many great athletes, but there have also been a lot of great kids,” he noted.

“I want to thank all the parents who have supported me through the years and I especially want to thank my wife, Robin, for all her help and support,” he said, as he prepares to offer advice and encouragement to another generation of baseball players who will some day be, like their grandfather, in the Casa Grande High School dugout.