The Los Altos High baseball team recently kicked off the 2014 season with an event head coach Donnie Ecker hopes will become an annual classic.
Approximately 125 spectators attended the inaugural Blue-White Series, a preseason tuneup held Feb. 15 at the school. The game pitted two teams – each comprising a mix of Los Altos varsity and frosh-soph players – in a nine-inning game.
It also featured a familiar face in former head coach Sandy Wihtol, who remains involved with the program in various ways – from scouting opposing teams to field maintenance.
“Donnie has always been very good at wanting me to still be around to offer advice and things,” Wihtol said. “That means a lot to me because Donnie played for me.”
Ecker, who took over for Wihtol last season, noted that he used the Blue-White Series as an opportunity to honor his former head coach, who spent 16 years at the helm of the baseball program.
Wihtol coached one team and Ecker the other at the event. Wihtol’s team prevailed 7-1.
“We want people to understand (that) this is 16, 17 years of excellence and high standards,” Ecker said of Wihtol’s reign. “We’ll never lower that.”
Wihtol – who conceded feeling nervous about stepping back into the dugout – said he’s pleased with the job his former pupil has done.
“He’s done everything I would’ve hoped for and more. … It’s just phenomenal to see what’s happening there,” Wihtol said.
Ecker noted that he hopes the event will turn into a communitywide attraction that supports the program in future years. The event – which ended with a barbecue – is just one of several community-minded ideas he’s planning. Ecker said his program plans to host a futures game with local junior high players in June.
“The bottom line is, when I took this program I thought this could be a special place,” he said. “Los Altos, this city, could be a special place to play baseball. So let’s create that and see what we can do.”