by Kara Lakkees
The University of La Verne baseball field will be dedicated to La Verne alumnus Ben Hines tomorrow at 5 p.m., as part of the Homecoming festivities.
Hines is being honored because of his 20 years of service as a ULV professor, winning baseball coach and because of his recent success as the Los Angeles Dodgers batting coach.
The ceremony will consist of a proclamation by La Verne City Councilman Robert Rodriguez, a plaque presented by University President Dr. Stephen Morgan and a presentation from the Athletic Department and Roland Ortmayer, men’s athletic director and coach.
Hines will then be “roasted” at a banquet held in his honor in the La Verne Community Center.
Tickets are $25 a person and can be obtained through University Relations.
The master of ceremonies for the roast will be Gordon Verrell. Verrell is a 1960 graduate of ULV who works for the Long Beach Press Telegram and is president of the National Baseball Writers of America. Bob Dyer, president of the La Verne Athletic Associaton, will do the welcome. Roasters will include former classmates of Hines, such as Nathan Liskey and Milan Rupel; former La Verne players Bob Dyer and Craig Bowser; Hines’ children Kristi, Bruce and Steve; and Rick Dempsey and Mike Scioscia, who met Hines when he began to work for the Dodgers organization in 1984.
Wanda Hines will next speak on “The Real Ben Hines.” Hines will then get a chance to respond.
Hines joined the La Verne College staff in 1960, two years after his graduation in ’58. Former classmate and self-labeled batboy of La Verne, Milan Rupel, characterized Hines in these words, “Ben personally is the kind of guy who never accepts No. 2. He is quite willing to compete.”
Hines laughingly acknowledged this claim, saying, “I guess that has been a part of my drive. I always felt when I was at La Verne that it should be the best, and that’s what I strived to do.”
Hines succeeded in his efforts. For 15 seasons, from 1966 to 1980, his baseball teams built a 460-223 record, averaging 30 triumphs per season. He brought La Verne to its first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championship in 1972, and was recognized as “Coach of the Year” by the NAIA in 1977.
Hines not only improved La Verne’s baseball team. He and his family are credited with building the baseball stadium that stands today. His family and players built the mound, installed the bleachers, dugouts and lights,
seeded and leveled the field and turned it, in the words of Carol Fetty, ULV public relations director, “into one of the better stadiums in the league.”
Hines left La Verne in ’81 and subsequently worked as assistant coach at Arizona State University, hitting instructor for the California Angels and Seattle Mariners, and worked shortly for the Baltimore Orioles as a part-time coach. He spent the 1987 season as batting coach for the Albuquerque Dukes of the Pacific Coast League and helped them win a championship and the league’s batting title.
Hines is recognized today as one of baseball’s foremost batting instructors and has written a book on hitting techniques, entitled, “The Swing’s the Thing.”
He signed on with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1984 as a roving instructor and then became a batting coach for them in 1985. He is still working for the organization today.
When the announcement was made last homecoming that the baseball field would be dedicated to him, Hines reacted emotionally, expressing his strong ties to the University. One year later, he had this to say, “It feels very nice that a lot of your peers and friends and associates would want to do something this nice in your behalf.”