Donnie Marbut’s lifelong love affair with baseball took on an added dimension on March 31st, when the longtime player and coach was named the fifth president of the West Coast League, the premier summer collegiate wood-bat circuit on the West Coast.
A native of Aberdeen, Wash., and former three-sport start at Aberdeen High School, Marbut was a standout player at Edmonds Community College and at Portland State as a collegian under legendary Northwest coaches Randy Whistler at ECC and Dave Dangler at PSU.
After graduating from PSU, Marbut started his coaching career in 1998 at Capital High School in Olympia, Wash., where he led the Cougars to the 3A state championship. He then became an assistant coach at Bellevue (Wash.) Community College before taking over the Edmonds program in 2000.
He was 152-38 in four seasons at his alma mater. He then joined the Washington State staff as an assistant coach in 2004, and became the youngest head coach in the Pacific-10 Conference (29) the following year when he was promoted to the top spot.
Marbut led the Cougars to two NCAA Regionals and a 314-304 record over the next 11 years. He now works as an analyst for the Pac-12 Network, as a scout for the Houston Astros, and as a consultant.
Donnie Marbut was in Corvallis this past weekend as the analyst for the Pac-12 Networks broadcast of the Washington/Oregon State series. The league had a chance to catch-up with Donnie on Sunday. Check out the WCL’s Q&A with president Marbut below.
WCL: How did you get interested in becoming the West Coast League’s new president?
Marbut: “Some people contacted me, and I thought I could help the league. I started thinking about some of the great leaders I was around at Washington State (Jim Sterk, Marcia Saneholtz, Anne McCoy). I thought if I can take the skills of those people, and use those, I could help the league achieve some of its hopes and dreams.”
WCL: Other than it being in baseball, what else about the job appeals to you?
MARBUT: “It fits, with my consulting company and working with the Pac-12 Networks and the Astros. Obviously I love the game, and I’ve been in the Northwest my entire life.
“I’ve been part of summer ball. Not a lot of head coaches do the summer placing, but I just happened to do that. I was close with multiple leagues across the country and obviously had a very good relationship with the West Coast League, their coaches and owners. So it just seemed to be a natural fit.”
WCL: What has impressed you about the WCL?
MARBUT: “It’s a very well-run league. It has a great footprint, the WCL has some of the best places to watch a summer-league game, whether it’s Bend, or Corvallis…the league has a really neat environment, and great ballparks.
“I look at the WCL as a league that is always trying to get better. If you can be a part of any organization that is always trying to get better, selfishly, that’s great for me.”
WCL: What is on your WCL to-do list?
MARBUT: “The first thing I need to do is get educated by the 11 owners. I work for them. I want to be their voice of reason, and to help them achieve what they want to achieve.”
WCL: What’s your approach to decision-making?
MARBUT: “Before I made any decisions, there’s an old adage to follow: God gave you two ears and one mouth, and I think it’s important to use your ears and not your mouth.
“That’s what I plan on doing, a lot of listening. I’ll listen to the owners, find out what their wants and needs are and hopefully we can set up some standards and expectations, and goals and dreams for this league, and do it together.”
WCL: How often do you plan to visit the teams in the league?
MARBUT: “My goal is to be at every single ballpark at some time during the year. There are 11 ballparks and they are all in footprint of what I’m doing.
“I would go to (WCL) ballparks anyways in the summer watching my own players or recruiting, so really my schedule isn’t going to be that much different than it was in the past.”
Contributed piece by Corvallis Knights director of media relations Brooks Hatch.