Our view: Northland needs more boosters like Baggs
The Northland knows a lot about the College of St. Scholastica and its baseball program. The winningest NCAA Division III team of the past decade, the Saints are a national power. Their .729 winning percentage has led to 12 straight Upper Midwest...
The Northland knows a lot about the College of St. Scholastica and its baseball program. The winningest NCAA Division III team of the past decade, the Saints are a national power. Their .729 winning percentage has led to 12 straight Upper Midwest Athletic Conference titles. And last year, the Saints had their best NCAA finish: runner-up in the Midwest Regional.
We know all that -- plus stories of countless players behind the many wins and titles -- because of one man: coach John Baggs, a likeable, friendly, personable guy who always treated sportswriters with respect and who never hesitated to flood them with information.
His enthusiasm was infectious. More than a few local journalists found it hard not to cross that line between "source" and "friend" when it came to Baggs.
And while Baggs was sometimes accused of "working" the media, "Anyone ... would rather work with someone who is diligent about what they do and on top of things, rather than the opposite," as the News Tribune's Jon Nowacki wrote in a column this month.
Nowacki wrote the piece because Baggs was diagnosed in October with a rare form of cancer and was in a fight for his life.
That fight ended early yesterday morning when the coach died at home. His wife, Colleen, and their children, Maddux, 8, and Josie, 3, lost a loving husband and father far sooner than any family should. Baggs was just 43. Life can be cruel.
The College of St. Scholastica will say goodbye to one of its most successful coaches, a leader who built a program virtually from scratch. Players, both past and present, will pay respects to an inspirational teacher who offered the respect he received.
The Northland will lose a fixture in the third-base coach's box at Wade Stadium and one of our most sincere and most enthusiastic cheerleaders. When Baggs led the St. Scholastica baseball team to the national spotlight, the glow washed across the Duluth region. He was a booster the Duluth area needed. And not only on the baseball field.
"In this business, we cover winners, and John Baggs is a winner," Nowacki wrote. "No amount of cancer will ever change that."