Over the course of Mark de la Motte’s illustrious 26-year career as Turlock High School’s varsity baseball coach, the Bulldogs have won over 500 games and captured eight league titles. De la Motte has helped catapult countless players into the collegiate and professional levels of the game, preparing those he coached for not only the rigors of the sport, but for the challenges of life as well.
It was for these reasons that a committee comprised of Turlock Unified School District staff and Turlock area community members addressed the Board of Trustees Tuesday night, asking that de la Motte’s service and accomplishments for baseball in the city over the course of five decades be recognized by dedicating the THS varsity baseball facility in his name.
“When a number of us found out recently that Mark de la Motte had decided to retire from the position…we thought, ‘You know what, it’s only once in a while someone like Mark comes along…and anytime you have an opportunity to recognize someone you should,’” former TUSD deputy superintendent and committee member Ed Felt said. “Mark has done some things over five decades relating to baseball and helping people grow.”
De la Motte, who taught at THS as well, took over as head baseball coach of the varsity team in 1983 following the passing of Atch Pedretti. From that moment on, de la Motte became the Bulldogs’ chief fundraiser, lead grounds man, ambassador for youth baseball and role model to his players, Felt told the Board.
He led the program until 1990, when he joined the Stanislaus State baseball coaching staff as an assistant, but returned the following season and coached once again from 1992-1997. De la Motte then earned the head coaching job for the Warriors from 1997 to 2002, and eventually returned to coach the Bulldogs in 2003 under then-head coach Rob Mendonca.
In 2008, de la Motte resumed his tenure as the head coach of the Bulldogs and is currently leading the 2018 program.
He recently announced his plans of retiring following the conclusion of the current 2018 season, ending an era of THS baseball that produced well over 100 collegiate baseball players, dozens of professional competitors and even more players who have gone on to follow de la Motte’s footsteps and pursue coaching or teaching careers.
“If you visit ‘THS Baseball’ on the Turlock High School website, you will discover a document titled ‘THS Baseball Program Goals’ which states, ‘The purpose and goal of the varsity team is to reach our utmost potential as a team and as individuals. We make no apologies for pursuing success on the field and preparing our players for higher levels of competition whether it be in baseball or in society,’” Felt said. “The committee members feel very strongly that Mark has successfully lived and coached by these standards over his 42 years of coaching baseball.”
In recognition of de la Motte’s success, the committee proposed that the baseball field be named the Mark de la Motte Field. Board President Barney Gordon said the TUSD administration will evaluate the proposal to make sure it’s aligned with current Board policies, and from there it could be placed on a future agenda for a vote.
“I don’t know Mr. de la Motte personally, but…the number of people in the community that just step up and dedicate themselves to bettering the education and the youth in our community is just amazing. To see somebody that’s dedicated 42 years to shaping young men and women in his classroom I think is certainly commendable,” Board President Barney Gordon said.