The man whose name is synonymous with baseball in Santa Barbara has passed away.
Fred Warrecker, who served as the baseball coach at Santa Barbara High School for 43 years and coached in the community for more than 60, died earlier this week at age 84.
Warrecker coached Santa Barbara High baseball into his 70s, retiring in 2015. He produced a countless number of collegiate players and had five players make it to the Major Leagues. His grandson, Bryce, who has pitched at Cal Poly for the past three seasons, is expected to be drafted in next month’s Major League Baseball draft.
Warrecker coached his six sons (Wes, Willy, Jonathan, Tony, Teddy and Donny) at Santa Barbara High. Donny replaced him at Santa Barbara High before Steve Schuck took over the program in 2018.
He started his baseball and coaching life in Santa Barbara in the mid-1950s at UCSB. He was named the baseball team’s MVP as a senior in 1960. He played for the original Foresters semipro baseball team from 1957-60.
After being drafted and serving in the U.S. Army, Warrecker returned to Santa Barbara and earned a second degree at UCSB in English literature. His first degree was in physical education, “because the line was shorter to register,” he joked.
Warrecker landed his first teaching and coaching job at Dolores School (now Notre Dame School) before moving to Bishop Diego, where he coached football, basketball and baseball.
Santa Barbara High Principal Gene Snyder hired him in 1970, and he coached alongside the legendary Sam Cathcart, Mike Moropoulos, Chuck Sylvester and Lito Garcia. He had a 41-game winning streak as the freshman football coach for the Dons.
He was part of Sylvester’s staff with the baseball team and was handed the head coaching reins in 1972. His teams won 615 games, 13 Channel League titles and made 22 CIF-SS playoff appearances. His 2000 team advanced to the Division 2 Final at Dodger Stadium.
“He was so smart,” said longtime friend Bill Oliphant, who coached freshman and JV baseball at Santa Barbara High. “He outcoached people. His practices were sharp and to the point. We didn’t waste a lot of time, and the kids enjoyed it.”
“I had a great time with him. I’ll miss him. I miss him today, I’ll miss him tomorrow and the next day… until I leave the planet.”
Joe Chenoweth, a former athletic director at Santa Barbara, always respected Warrecker
“Fred is tremendous not only to the game, but he has impacted so many youth in our community, many of whom have gone on to play in college and stepped up into the majors,” he told Noozhawk in a 2015 story. “He’s a huge factor in the development of young men.”
Dos Pueblos Chargers baseball commented on Facebook: “Charger Baseball says goodbye to long-time friend and foe Fred Warrecker. … He was a mesmerizing story teller that always captured the interest of anyone near him. … The local baseball community has lost a great one.”
“His influence was never felt more than through his sons,” former Dons player Robert Krauss said in a Facebook post. “Being coached by both Donny and Teddy you saw they knew how to play the game the right way and had the right intensity while being teachers of the game like their father. I sincerely send my heartfelt condolences and prayers to the Warreckers and all of Santa Barbara baseball. RIP to a legend and I will always remember him referring to me as ‘that damn lefty’ and remember it affectionately.”
Josh Bryant, who played freshman football for Warrecker at Santa Barbara High, said on Facebook: “Great coach, great leader, and hands down the best damn storyteller you ever had the pleasure of listening to. … Rest easy, Coach. You may be gone, but your legacy will live on. The stories, the lessons, the spirit you instilled in all of us will never fade. We’ll keep fighting, we’ll keep giving it our all, and we’ll always remember the man who pushed us to be the best heroes we could be.”