Sun City man's all-star team even includes a Hall-of-Famer
Jim Bisenius lives in a quiet neighborhood in Sun City Roseville.
He has a nice house with a beautiful view of a golf course, like many of the area’s residents. He and his wife, Helen, both retired, live an active lifestyle among peers and friends in these confines.
There is a room in their house with a story unlike the others. Helen decorated this room for Jim, a tribute to his decades of coaching baseball and the lasting impression he’s made on many. The walls are adorned with numerous signed baseballs, team photos, autographed pictures, baseball cards, trophies, schedules and more.
Bisenius began coaching at Hayward High School in the Bay Area in 1964. Several talented players in his system furthered their careers in college and professional sports, including Jacksonville Jaguars football coach Jack Del Rio, former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, former major leaguer Mike Young and Jon Miller, the Hall of Fame broadcaster of the San Francisco Giants.
Miller was a backup catcher at Hayward High, but his major-league career took off with a microphone in his hands – not a bat. Miller served as a broadcaster for a few teams early in his career, starting with the reigning World Series-champion Oakland A’s.
“There’s nothing negative on Jon Miller,” said Bisenius, who coached in four decades. “Everyone just adores him. He’s one tremendous person.”
A tribute was held for Miller in July, just before he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and it was Bisenius who introduced Miller to the crowd of more than 40,000 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
“I was going to make it short: ‘I’m honored to be here, seated among these distinguished guests. Yes, I’m the one that cut Jon Miller’s baseball career short and recommend he go into to broadcasting,’” Bisenius recalled.
“It was great because he was part of my time in high school where I was starting to get into broadcasting,” Miller said. “He and some of the other coaches were very encouraging to me and helped facilitate me being able to do that.
“It was great for me he was there. I was real thrilled he was able to take the time to come down.”
Bisenius and his wife moved from North Dakota to the Bay Area, and he took a physical education teaching position at Hayward High, where he coached baseball and basketball. In 12 seasons coaching frosh-soph basketball, his teams won 10 league championships. His baseball record was even more impressive.
“In 1964, I was the freshman baseball coach; won a title there,” Bisenius said. “1965, I moved up to JV and won a title there. In 1967 was my first year as a varsity baseball coach. I stayed with that until 1984.”
After the team’s North Coast Section championship game loss at the Oakland Coliseum, Bisenius decided to retire. But in the middle of his third season away – and after three head coaches – he took the reins and coached an additional five years.
Bisenius stays active in Sun City. He said he swims for 45 minutes each day while continuing to play basketball and softball. He plays basketball twice a day at least twice a week.
And he stays in contact with many of his former players.
“I e-mail Jack (Del Rio) every week, and he answers right back,” Bisenius said.
Bisenius also is a Giants supporter. He was given passes to games when he lived in Hayward, so he was able to see the Giants frequently, as well as the A’s.
Miller called Giants games all the way through the fall – from the regular season to the National League divisional and championship series and their World Series victory over the Texas Rangers.
No one, notably Bisenius, knew when he spoke during Miller’s tribute at AT&T Park in July what was to come for the Giants.
“When we were there in San Francisco, what I wanted to say, but I didn’t say, was, ‘2010 – the year Jon Miller goes into the Hall of Fame; 2010 – the year the San Francisco Giants win the division title,” Bisenius said with a laugh.