Varsity Baseball Coach Doug James to Retire After 42 Years

Photo Courtesy of The Archives

Coach James celebrating a big win with Tyler Daly ’17.

Forty-two years ago, Choate hired a young football coach and English teacher, Mr. Douglas James.  At the end of this school year, he will retire after years of inspiring and teaching both in the classroom and on the athletic fields.

Although he came to Choate as a football coach, Mr. James may be remembered by many for his work coaching the Varsity Baseball Team for the past seven years.  After being an assistant coach on and off for 15 years, Mr. James was named the head coach after the legendary coach, Mr. Tom Yankus retired.  Since then, Mr. James and the other coaches have had to rebuild the program.  Instead of relying on PGs, they have been able to develop freshmen and sophomores into veterans who will lead the team.

He said of his work, “We’re proud of the fact that we have a real program and a process. We’ve averaged fewer than one PG a year, but one or two is great.  We’ve done it with the right mix of old and young players.  The first couple years were hard, but in the last four years, we’ve been 61-24, and we’ve won two league championships. It’s a veteran, experienced team this year that is working hard and doing well.”

As a three-sport athlete in high school and two-sport athlete in  college, Mr. James has always had a love for sports and baseball in particular.  Of his love for baseball, he stated, “I always enjoyed baseball, whether it was coaching Little League kids or the Choate team or watching a game.” He later continued, “I’ve been a baseball player or a coach my entire life. It was always one or the other, sometimes both.”

Baseball has been a lifelong game for Mr. James, and walking away from coaching will undoubtedly be difficult. “I love the daily grind of it all, the preparation, the detail, the strategy — trying to keep that to a minimum. Just the chance to be with young people, to get some exercise, to compete.  I will miss all of that. It’s not one big thing; it’s all those little things that make sports what they are and make sports a part of my average day, luckily for me,” said Mr. James on what he would miss the most about coaching. There is no doubt, though, that this is not the end of baseball for Mr. James.

Mr. James has always been known as a tough coach. The stories of his demanding style circulate the school, but what is known among players is that he demands the most because he wants the team to be the best they can be.  Despite the tough coaching style, the players know that he does it to make them better.  Jack Fuchs ’18 supported this saying, “Doug is unlike any other coach I have had. I don’t think there is a coach that loves the game as much if not more than his players. He is always full of energy even at his age and is always trying to win, no matter the game. As much as he may irritate many players, I think we all know deep down that he loves us and only wants the best.”  Captain of the team Jake MacKenzie ’17 simply described Mr. James as a “character who will be missed.” Will Eichhorn ‘19 said, “Coach James’ great attitude, positivity, and sincerity has given the team a great experience. Coach brings knowledge and competitiveness that has brought the team to success. The team will miss Coach James a lot when he retires after this season.”  Although he won’t be going too far, as he still has a son on the team, Mr. James will certainly be missed.

When asked what his favorite memory of his time coaching at Choate, Mr. James said, “I don’t really have individual ones because there are so many good ones.  The Choate community is academic, artistic, and athletic.  It is an incredible mix and balance of those things, and my memories are caught up in all of those, together often.  I have been a part of some wonderful teams, but what’s wonderful and special is how intelligent and hard-working the Choate athletes are.  To work with kids who get it and will try new things and are smart enough and ambitious, that is a wonderful opportunity.”

It is obvious that Mr. James loves both his teams and baseball as a sport, and it will be very difficult to replace the presence and wisedom of the 42-year veteran and legendary figure in Choate athletics.

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