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Friday Harbor's Fletcher Vynne, now an AppleSox assistant coach, is winning them over in Wenatchee
How about a job where you're greeted by applause and cheering several times in a days work? That's what Friday Harbor's Fletcher Vynne experiences every time the Wenatchee AppleSox play a home game.
Vynne, a 2003 Friday Harbor High School graduate, is spending the summer in Wenatchee as an assistant coach for the hometown AppleSox, a summer, collegiate, wood bat baseball team in the West Coast League.
Fletcher is the first base coach and every inning when he leaves the third base dugout and jogs behind home plate and out to his position in the first base coaching box, the local fans hoop, holler, clap ring bells and blow horns ... especially those seated in Section A along the first base line. And the ever-smiling Vynne often will touch the bill of his cap in a show of appreciation.
"I think it's great. I never expected anything like this," a happy Vynne says.
The former Wolverine is not the first to experience the rousing cheers. What started five seasons ago has become a tradition. In 2006, some of the female fans on the first base side thought the assistant coach at that time had a great smile and was "kind of cute." A few of them began to shout his name each time he took his position, and a few signs appeared. That was the beginning, and it has built from there.
Each season since, the AppleSox have had a different young coach on that side of the field and the whooping and hollering continues. Instead of a few folks participating, it has expanded to all of Section A and has become real group activity. Even a few of the fans in Section B (behind home plate) and Section C (third base line) are now involved.
A few games back, a number of fans in Section A came with signs reading "Fletcher" and "Fletcher Rocks." A couple of games later it was announced there would be a special presentation on the field in front of that boisterous section and Vynne was asked to come out. He was presented with a plaque that included signatures from a number of fans, plus a picture taken of the crowd the evening the signs were displayed.
Vynne was quite taken with the whole thing and, caught up in the spirit of the moment, said he would bake cookies for everyone on Section A. Being a man of his word, what should appear a few games later — several containers of those promised cookies ... a combination goody of chocolate chips and raisins. Yum, yum (the folks in the press box also got some). Those fans on the first base line now really love him.
As part of the Wenatchee operation, the Friday Harbor native is getting to see a little of the Northwest this summer. The other locations in the nine-team West Coast League are the Bellingham Bells, Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Cowlitz Black Bears (Longview/Kelso), Kelowna Falcons, Kitsap BlueJackets (Bremerton), Moses Lake Pirates and the Walla Walla Sweets.
Between early June and early August, each team plays three-game home-and-home sets with the other squads for a 48-game season. The rosters are filled with college players who have just completed their freshmen, sophomore or junior years. There are also a small number of players who graduated from high school in May or June and are committed to a college in the fall.
Players come from four-year and two-year schools from all around the country, but primarily the West Coast. Some of the four-year schools represented on the Wenatchee roster are University of Washington, University of Hawaii, Oregon State University, Gonzaga University, Lewis-Clark St. College, University of San Diego, UCLA and the University of California, Irvine.
In the spring, Vynne, who wears No. 16 on his AppleSox uniform, was a graduate assistant for the Seattle University baseball team. He is attending Seattle U. and studying for a master's degree in sports administration. His college playing days were spent at the University of British Columbia where he helped UBC win the NAIA World Series in 2006. He served as team captain his senior year.
— WSU's Richie Ochoa (Friday Harbor Class of 2009) is pitching for the Bend Elks. Ochoa and the Elks split a doubleheader with Wenatchee July 25.