College of the Desert will celebrate former head coach David Buttles' 17-year coaching career and honor his legacy with a pregame retirement ceremony January 31, prior to their 6 p.m. game against the Cypress Chargers.
The ceremony will be attended by members of Buttles family, who will join the Roadrunners Baseball team in retiring his #22 jersey and honoring the coach and college Athletic Academic Advisor who passed away at the age of 48, after a battle with cancer on February 1, 2010.
Buttles coached the baseball teams at Clairemont High School in San Diego and then Laguna Beach High School before becoming the head baseball coach at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, CA. Where he spent 17 seasons guiding the Roadrunners, eventually helming the program in 1992. Over his lengthy career spanning 15 seasons as head coach, from 1992 through 2007, Buttles collected a record of 291-307 (.486).
Current Roadrunners Baseball head coach Chris Walters commented, "I am excited that we can honor David Buttles by retiring his number 22, at the tournament bearing his name. He served the college for 17 years as a coach and counselor, and in that time impacted the lives of his players and the student population here at COD. Coach Buttles' impact on this program and his student-athletes' success has quickly become evident through stories of those who knew him as well as the history of the program. On the field, his 2003 team has set the bar of achievement for current and future COD teams."
While every season was full of unique happy memories and successes under Buttles, the 2003 season represented the best season for the Roadrunners under his tenure. With the leadership of All-Southern California selections like first baseman Jason Luis, catcher Lenny Vargas, along with team MVP outfielder Craig King and Foothill Conference Pitcher of the Year, Dave Lesniak, Desert Baseball secured the number 5 seed in the Southern California region. As a result of the successes of the 2003 season, Buttles was presented with the prestigious Howard Lowder Award from the former Foothill Conference.
Lesniak, currently finishing his final year of residency training in General Surgery in Edmonton, had these kind words to say about his time as a player under Buttles, "It is difficult to highlight a single memory that stands out during those two years (2001 to 2003) as there were so many great moments. I have reflected on my time (with the Roadrunner Baseball team) and what stands out most is a great feeling of companionship, teamwork, accomplishment and pride. Those two years were unlike anything else I have been a part of, and Coach Buttles stands tall at the center of those memories. His calm, purposeful demeanor and his willingness to commit to me as a person and athlete has transcended my time at COD."
Lesniak continued with, "I am grateful for how dedicated he was to me as a pitching coach. He was always very technical and would often make minor adjustments to my pitching mechanics in order to maximize every ounce of potential on the field. He had a few key points for me which still stick out in my head to this day: #1) Keep the ball down. #2) Throw first pitch strikes and work ahead in the count. Those things might seem like common sense, but under coach Buttles they were ingrained into every pitch. I truly believe his pursuit to make me a better pitcher has changed the way I approach everything in my life since returning to Canada from California."
Buttles was born on April 27, 1961 in San Diego, CA. David graduated from Kearny High School in 1979 where he was a varsity letterman in football, basketball and baseball. The New York Mets drafted David out of high school where he played in their minor league organization for three years until an injury ended his pitching career. He worked as a pitching instructor at the San Diego School of Baseball while pursuing his education. David earned his Bachelor's degree and teaching credential from San Diego State University and his Master's degree in counseling from UC Riverside.
He was a very positive influence in the lives of many of his players and students. David's greatest passion was baseball but he enjoyed all sports. He was an avid fly fisherman and an accomplished bowler. He loved camping and fishing in the Sierras with his family every summer.
Shortly after his passing, a fund in Buttles' name has been established at the College of the Desert Foundation to provide scholarships for COD students.
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For additional information, please contact the COD Sports Information Office at 760.423.6641.
Information & Story provided by COD Sports Information. Photo by Michael Leone Photography (firstname.lastname@example.org).