Story by Northtown students Abby Gaines, Mackenzi Callaway and Hornet Baseball website editor Chris Kamler
Last baseball season, John West proved just what a multipurpose person he is. In addition to his duties serving as the Hornet’s first base coach and preparing for the upcoming fall softball season, Coach West also had a side-hustle – assistant coach and equipment manager for the Kansas City T-Bones Baseball Club. That club took home the American Association’s Championship this summer.
At the school, John is excellent at making the kids feel welcome and safe. He is a fun and hardworking coach for all the sports he participates in and encourages kids to try their best one hundred and ten percent of the time. Student at North Kansas City High School Abby Gaines states that, “John West has been a close family friend of her parents for a while now ever since John’s father was a campus supervisor at Oak Park High School where her father attended for four years. John is a super funny, very intelligent human being who pushes her to be a better person every day.”
That drive is exactly what makes Coach West so invaluable to the T-Bones. The season was a stressful one for a number of reasons on and off the field. Shuffling rotations, injuries and something most baseball teams don’t have to worry about – poaching of the roster from Minor League Baseball. “We also had 8 players sign with MLB teams and 3 players sign with the Mexican league,” West said in a recent interview. “With all that, our team had to “GRIND IT OUT” each and every day.”
Jeaneen Colston who is an administrative assistant in Northtown’s office states that “John is a quality person and all-around good guy who is a lot of fun to work with. John is also dependable and gets the job done.”
Someone who knows just what it takes to juggle multiple sports and roles, Activities Director David Garrison said, “John West goes above and beyond for the school, he gives an extreme amount of time to help all the kids, he is a selfless worker and we appreciate everything he does for the school.”
“The beginning of the season is a little tough as the end of school and the beginning of T-Bones overlap a couple of weeks,” West said. “It’s not horrible as I have some help from my assistants and games don’t start until the last week of school. The end of the season is another story. Once Mid-August hit, I lost both my clubhouse guys and one batboy. I had to juggle school with baseball. Most days I arrived at school at 6:00 AM and worked until 2:45 PM, drove to the stadium by 3:15 PM for batting practice and the game. After the game, I cleaned both locker rooms and did laundry for both teams and the umpires until 4:00 or 5:00 AM. I then caught and hour or so nap on the couch before heading back to school for the day.”
John West is a huge asset to our school who exceeds expectations and goes the extra mile to make sure things get done quickly and correctly. The school is very grateful to have such an outstanding campus supervisor.
West is certainly no stranger to the challenges of a long season as he has been around baseball for decades, even once working as a batboy for the Royals in the from 1977 to 1984 working with the club through five playoff runs and a trip to the World Series in 1980. General Manager of the T-Bones “John has since assisted in a number if roles helping our club.” Brown has been instrumental in building what he calls a “powerhouse” team and credits West as a key part of their success.
West has been with the T-Bones since 2013 serving as clubhouse manager, equipment manager and first base coach as well as travel coordinator.
“The leadership of our Manager Joe Calfapietra was unbelievable. The closeness of the coaching staff of Bill Sobbe (a former Hornet coach), Frank White, Scott Carroll, and Barrett Astin was outstanding. The chemistry of 52 guys who put on the T-Bones jersey throughout the 133 days of the season was amazing. The love and passion these guys had for the game of baseball was contagious. Remembering that they came from all walks of life from small hick towns to thriving metropolitan cities,” West recalls. “From playing in the Major Leagues to Low A ball to college kids with no professional experience. These are the group of guys that I will always remember and cherish the time of a lifetime in the Summer of 2018.”
Overall John West is a great person and hard worker that does his very best in every job he has. He goes above and beyond in many aspects of his life and none of his employers could do without him.
West says the best part of his multiple roles is the time he spends with both the kids at school and the kids on the T-Bones. “The best part is being on the field, hitting fungos, throwing batting practice and shagging fly balls (yes, I can still catch, as long as it’s hit at me….)”
And now, West can look back on 2018 and also take pride in his role in bringing a Championship to both Kansas City and North Kansas City.