case 'Jesse Baker':
2004 Hall of Fame Inductees BASEBALL
Bruce Nichols is thoroughly Tacoman, from his 1944 birth at Fort Lewis, to his athletic exploits at Wilson and Mount Tahoma high schools, to his adventures in pro baseball and his coaching career at Rogers High School, all leading to his induction into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame.
As a child, he spent time at the South End Boys Club, supervised by
Don Danielson. Nichols credits Danielson with inspiring him to enter
coaching and share his experience with young people.
His next stop was Mount Tahoma, where as an involuntary transfer he
became part of its first graduating class (1962) while excelling as
a three-sport star (football, basketball and baseball) for the
Thunderbirds, with his All-City performance in basketball drawing
the most attention.
Shortly after his high school graduation, Nichols signed a professional baseball contract with the Detroit Tigers under the supervision of West Coast scout Bernie Devieros. In doing so, he left behind a scholarship offer to play baseball for Bobo Brayton at Washington State. But he did not leave his education behind.
After a short minor league stint in the Detroit organization, Bruce was drafted to the major league roster of the Kansas City Athletics.
That move took him to the Lewiston Broncos of the Northwest League, where he played with such future luminaries as Tony LaRussa, Marcel Lachemann and John Donaldson, who played infield with the expansion Seattle Pilots in 1969. After another season in Kansas City's minors league system, where he played in the Midwest League with Sal Bando, he was drafted by the San Francisco organization.
For the next two seasons at Waterbury in the Class AA Eastern League, Nichols was teamed with Damaso Blanco, Al Stanek, Bobby Bonds and Dick Estelle.
He spent his final pro season in 1969 with Class AAA Phoenix, where teammates included Bonds, Ollie Brown, Bob Burda, Don Bryant, Tito Fuentes, Bob Garibaldi, Hal Haydel and Ken Henderson. In fact, 22 of the 28 players on that roster played in the majors.
The end of his playing days in 1969 coincided with the completion of his undergraduate days at Pacific Lutheran, and soon Bruce was on to a 30-year career teaching chemistry in the Puyallup School District.
Recreationally, he spent a season with the 2121 slow-pitch softball team coached by Foister Ambury.
Bruce spent 22 season as coach at Rogers, first as an assistant to Jim Tevis, then a 10-year stint as head coach, and then as JV coach for his former assistant Dave Tate.
He coached both of his sons at Rogers: Tom in the mid-80s went on the play four years at the University of Washington for Bob McDonald; and Trenton in the mid-90s had a college career at Yakima Valley Community College and San Francisco State.
Nichols was named the South Puget Sound baseball Coach of the Year in 1987. Other notables who went on to coach or to play in college included Kirk Van Natta, Joe DeRosier, Todd Moseson, Todd Stotlzenburg, Paul Sopak and Brian Jackson.
Bruce also coached community organizations for more than 25 years, from T-ball through American Legion.
Said Dave Tate, Nichols' former assistant at Rogers: "Bruce Nichols symbolizes why so many great coaches were former catchers. He saw and coached baseball with unique perspective and clarity. Fundamentals were taught, but so too were intangible ideals for which sport is intended: love of the game, responsibility, camaraderie, teamwork and respect with integrity."
"Countless players were challenged by Coach Nichols through the years. Through Bruce's tutelage they also became better men. I consider myself one of them."