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Santa Barbara Baseball Community Mourns Passing of George Rempe

He served 30 years as a volunteer assistant with Santa Barbara High baseball team

George Rempe, a longtime volunteer assistant coach for the Santa Barbara High baseball team and a staunch supporter of sports in the community, has passed away. He was 73.

George Rempe served as a volunteer assistant for the Santa Barbara High baseball team from 1985 to 2015. Click to view larger
George Rempe served as a volunteer assistant for the Santa Barbara High baseball team from 1985 to 2015. (Photo courtesy of Presidio Sports)

A post on the Santa Barbara High School Dons Baseball Facebook Page said Rempe passed way on New Year’s Eve.

“Coach Rempe spent decades volunteering every day as the hitting coach for the Dons baseball program,” the post read. “Despite his health challenges throughout the years, Coach Rempe gave everything he had to the young men in the program. He will be deeply missed by our school community. RIP Coach Rempe!"

Rempe assisted longtime head coach Fred Warrecker for 30 years at Santa Barbara High. The retired attorney joined the staff in 1985 and became the team’s hitting coach in 1987. He stopped coaching when Warrecker stepped down in 2015.

Rempe was known for organizing and supervising the team's Saturday batting practices at Eddie Mathews Field. The batting cages at the field are named in his honor.

He did a lot more than help players with their hitting.

“I think George’s greatest value to the team is his dedication to the success of the players, individually and as a team,” longtime SBHS baseball assistant and friend Mike Cooney said in a 2013 story about Rempe on Presidiosports.com. “When players see George on the field day after day, overcoming the difficulty of merely walking from his car to the backstop, most make the effort to work on improving their own skills.”

Rempe battled through a myriad of health issues over the years, but he kept coming back to the baseball field.

“The boys are counting on me,” he said.

He truly enjoyed working with the student-athletes at the school. He made it a point to bring every player on the baseball team to the weekly Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheons during the spring season. He made copies of media clippings and put them into a scrapbook for each player at the end of the season. 

“I was with a good law firm (Hollister and Brace) and had a good practice, but I always tell people: If I’ve done anything really significant in the world, it’s out here. If I had influence on anything in the world, it’s the influence I’ve had on these kids.

“My brother keeps saying it’s just a baseball game. ‘No, it’s life,’ Rempe said. "To me, the reason I like baseball the most — and I didn’t realize this growing up — is it’s so much more of reality. If you’re a third baseman and you make an error, you have to stay out there, and you might not get a ball for another 4-5 innings. If you strike out, you have to wait three innings to get another chance. In baseball, you have to live with your mistakes.

“Those are life lessons we try to teach all the time.”

Rempe often used stories, sayings and nuggets of wisdom he picked up from other sources and weaved them into a teaching moment.

Some of his favorites:

On hitting: “Hitting is like shaving, if you don’t do it every day, you look like a bum.”

On tackling difficult tasks: “I learned this from a secretary,” he said. “Look at what you got to do, figure out what you hate the most, write it down and do it first. If you do it first, the rest of your day is pleasant.”

On making yourself and the world better: “Every day you have to do something hard and you have to do something nice for somebody. If you do that every day, just think, a year from now you’ve done 365 things you didn’t want to do and you did 365 things that were nice for somebody. Just think how that carries over …”

Thomas Singher, who met Rempe in 1984 and played youth baseball for him, emailed Noozhawk and said he remained in touch with Rempe through the years. 

"I cannot count how many ways he helped me over the years – whether with career choices, relationship advice, coping with 9/11 (I was in Manhattan) and on and on," Singher wrote. "Ultimately, I consider him a best friend. Now I’m 47 and it’s hard to believe he’s gone.  We were just texting about the fires a few days ago."

Singher shared one his all-time favortie "George-isms:"

“Whatever you do in life really do it.  You don’t want to be the older guy at the bar thinking you know I wish I would have done this or that when I had the chance. Study hard, work hard, and keep at it.  Whatever you decide to do I guarantee you’ll achieve more than you thought you could and you won’t regret it.”

Singher concluded: "George was one of the greats ... to me what an actual hero looks like."

George Rempe is survived by his wife, Cathy, daughter, Stephanie, and son, Michael.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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