‘Coach Billy’ touched hundreds of lives in local baseball, softball communities

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Bill Schimpf, it seemed, knew every baseball and softball diamond in the greater Sacramento area. He knew plenty more throughout California and in all corners of the United States, too.

His son, William Schimpf IV, said it got to a point where if they needed directions to a house, they’d ask, “What baseball field do you live next to?”

“We played everywhere,” said Will, 21.

The youth baseball and softball circles were shattered last Friday, Aug. 19, when William Schimpf III, known throughout those communities as “Coach Billy,” passed away suddenly. He was 57.

A service was scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Abundant Life Church/Lord’s Gym at 702 Atlantic St. in Roseville.

Sure to be mentioned during the service is the work ethic Schimpf possessed and instilled in hundreds of young baseball and softball players over the decades, how he helped them land scholarship after scholarship, took teams to high-profile tournaments all over the country and worked hours upon hours giving hitting lessons in a batting cage he built in his backyard in Citrus Heights.

“He had kids here from the morning until it got dark,” Will Schimpf said. “If you ran into him, he’d give you a lesson on the spot.”

Will said baseball was the love of his dad’s life. He graduated from Casa Roble High School, a heavy hitter and a catcher who earned a reputation as a brick wall with a quick release and strong, accurate arm.

Schimpf took over as president of the California Sting in 1994, when it was in its infancy. The softball organization grew to five teams — from 10-under through 18-under — and with it, Schimpf began a run of qualifying those teams for national tournaments. Several top-10 finishes followed. He later converted the Sting into a baseball organization. The 12U Sting Outlaws won the 2006 Super Series Winter National Championships in Arizona.

Schimpf coached and gave hitting lessons to several kids in Roseville and Granite Bay, including Andy Ladrech’s son, Alec.

“Billy was a very special person in (Alec’s) life. He gave Alec a lot more than hitting lessons,” said Andy Ladrech, who lives in Granite Bay. “For the rest of his life, he will never ever forget the times spent and the valuable advice on life he got from Billy. My heart aches knowing that what Billy gave Alec, he gave to hundreds of other young men and women, and the gigantic void created in so many young impressionable people’s lives.”

Schimpf made two trips to Cooperstown, N.Y., for tournaments. His youngest son, Tyler, played for those teams. Tyler, 16, is a sophomore at Capital Christian High School. A Bill Schimpf Memorial Fund has been opened through American River Bank in Roseville.

Bill Benavides, a longtime friend of Schimpf, and John Sprague, who coached with Schimpf and had sons John Jr. and Peter in the Sting program, said a Coach Billy Schimpf baseball/fastpitch softball memorial tournament is in the works, tentatively scheduled for October.

“Coach Bill Schimpf was one of the great teachers of life’s lessons, using baseball and softball as his vehicle,” said Rob Hart, whose son, Mitch, is a sophomore baseball player at Granite Bay High School. “He was so warm and funny, and kids just loved him and responded to him big time.”

In addition to his sons, Schimpf is survived by his wife, Sheridan, and daughters Tammy Bradford, 38, and Crystal Rankin, 28.