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Mission San Jose Little League, the baseball community of Fremont, and our world lost a great man on April 9 when Coach Wayne Chung unexpectedly passed away.
I was not there for the beginning of the story, before Coach Wayne came to MSLL, or even during the years he had outstanding all star runs. Coach Wayne took the 2009 Junior All Stars as far as Regionals in Southern California with Coach Ed Hugo and Coach Wen Chen. 2011 proved to be a great year as well, ending in second place in State, one game away from going to Regionals. Then in 2013, he was asked to manage the District 14 Big League team, along with Coach Ed Hugo and Coach Lucky Ott, where they won Sectionals, State and placed second in Regionals -- one game away from going to the World Series in South Carolina. Coach Wayne was on the baseball coaching staff at Mission San Jose High School during that time as well. Those boys are all grown up now, in their mid-20s, and accomplishing even greater achievements in their lives.
Around that time when my boys were playing Minors, I met Coach Wayne at a coaching clinic and first started hearing the stories that he loved to tell. He always seemed to be around the field, and he took an interest in helping out the boys at our level. He started giving private lessons to my 2 sons and other boys in the League, many of whom are on the high school varsity team now. They say that they would not be playing today, if they had not met Coach Wayne.
He started giving me coaching advice when I first became an All-Star manager and started our own travel baseball program with the multi-year goal of keeping the Mission San Jose families together as a group, upping our game to hopefully win some Little League championships, and getting the boys ready for high school baseball. It was like magic, the way the boys would hustle in his presence, and answer him, "Yes Coach". We poured our hearts, souls, blood, sweat and tears all over those fields at Gomes. There were wins and losses, celebrations and arguments, fits and starts, but eventually the District 14 championship flags started coming home.
The 2019 Juniors team went 29-1 in the regular season, 5-0 in District 14 post-season, and finally lost the Section 3 Championship game by a score of 6-4, to a team from Livermore who won Northern California and finally got eliminated by the eventual World Series champions from Southern California. Coach Wayne did not have an official rostered coaching position on those teams, because he was too kind to take the spotlight away from others, but behind the scenes he helped many of the practices and individually mentored so many of the boys. After each game, he would share his detailed notes and advice with me personally.
Coach Wayne taught us how to respect the game, play it the right way, with class, and get every meticulous detail correct down to the belt color on our uniforms. Coach John Bettencourt recalls the essence of Coach Wayne as "always positive and always improving. I usually think of him when I get stuck in a practice or game. I just ask myself what would Wayne do."
But more than baseball itself, Coach Wayne taught life lessons. Both of my boys sometimes struggled to control their emotions on the field, and Coach Wayne encouraged them in a way that even Dad could not. Barb Fuhs, team mom on Coach Wayne's teams 2008-2013, remarked, "He was the absolute best mentor, teaching all his players about teamwork, hard work, how to win graciously and lose graciously, consideration and manners, and lessons about life in general. He will forever have a special place in my heart. He taught all the kids to 'give 120%'."
I am grateful to have known Coach Wayne, and gosh I will miss him so much. But now when I watch the boys that he taught still battling their hearts out on the Varsity field, or the younger kids this spring on the Little League fields again, or his former player now Coach Brandon Facha passing the torch to the next generation of players at MSJLL, I will think of Coach Wayne's legacy carrying on forever.
We will rename the facilities overlooking the Big Field at Gomes, where he spent countless hours with hundreds of young baseball players, the "Coach Wayne Chung Batting Cages and Bullpen Mounds" in his eternal memory and honor.
Thank you my friend, Coach Wayne, for everything.
Mission San Jose Little League