SE’s Bowerman makes impact on and off the field
Tigers baseball coach praised for his patience, selflessness
If you talk to people about Rick Bowerman, you’ll hear many things about him, all positive.
You’ll hear about his generosity, his kindness, his work ethic and his selflessness.
The common thread in all of the comments can be summed up in a single word:
“He’s patient with his students, he’s patient with his athletes. He’s patient with his kids at home,” said Frank Lamoreaux, a close friend and neighbor of Bowerman’s for decades. “Way more patient than I ever was.”
Lamoreaux is a major figure at Seneca East High. He coached the baseball team from 1987-2015, and picked up 405 wins.
He was recently inducted into the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
For more than two decades, Bowerman was his top assistant.
“Anything that needed to be done, he was the guy to get it done, or to talk to,” Lamoreaux said. “One of those guys that, you didn’t have to tell them everything to do. Because, if he saw something that needed to be done, he did it.”
The Seneca East players experienced that, too.
“He took the time, whether you were the best pitcher on the team, or the worst pitcher on the team, he was gonna take the time, teach you what’s right,” said Matt Schock, a former Tigers player who went on to be a baseball assistant, “and it was up to you if you wanted to follow through and do it.”
Jordan Bowerman, Rick’s son, was a standout ballplayer on Seneca East’s powerhouse teams in the first half of this decade.
“I could see how big of an impact he had on his players lives, all the lessons and life values he taught them, along with his love for baseball,” Jordan said. “That was one of the biggest things he tries to pass on to his players, to me and my brother Ryan. Just anybody he comes in contact with. He loves the game of baseball. He loves to play it, he loves to watch it, he loves to study and analyze it, and I think that’s what’s made him so successful.”
Bowerman has done much of his work in the background. He has coached numerous sports at Seneca East, from junior varsity football and basketball to junior high sports.
Schock remembered all the work he, Bowerman and Lamoreaux would put in during the baseball season.
“It’s no secret he was a major part of coach Lamoreaux’s success,” he said. “Rick and Frank and I would be at the house until 10 p.m. going over baseball stuff, and strategy and numbers. It’s no secret Rick was instrumental to coach Lamoreaux’s success, and Frank knows that.”
And there was little question who would take over when Lamoreaux stepped aside as head baseball coach in 2015.
“There really wasn’t anybody else that I wanted to have the job,” Lamoreaux said. “I know that.”
And since Bowerman has taken the job, the program has continued to roll. Bowerman’s Tigers have won a pair of league championships (they shared the 2018 crown with Carey) and this year won a district title.
Success on the field only is part of Bowerman’s story.
“Small schools depend on people wanting to be more involved than just from 8-3 p.m,” Seneca East Athletic Director Doug Mason said. “It’s not just sports. If you looked at all the things he does around here, until we actually hired a tech person, Rick was the person you went to.”
Schock said that around Seneca East, Bowerman is called upon to do a little of everything.
“He’s called on to do things with technology, or, ‘Hey, I need a fifth-grade basketball official today. Rick, can you do that?’ Or, ‘Rick, I need to get my computer fixed. I can’t get this Excel formula, can you help me out?'” Schock said. “And, Rick’s there.”
And he’s there for things that go beyond the work environment.
“Back in 2000 we had a serious car accident,” Lamoreaux said. “He was the first one there, picking up stuff and organizing things. He’s the first one that called me.”
Mason also had a story.
In 2010, Mason’s mother spent three weeks at the Cleveland clinic with heart trouble.
“The weather was bad, and I was going up to visit her on a regular basis,” he said. “My wife (said), ‘I don’t want you driving alone. First person I thought of (to go with me) was Rick Bowerman.”
Bowerman didn’t even hesitate, and agreed to make the trips with Mason.
“Here’s a guy that’s has many other things to do, and a family himself,” Mason said. “Give him a call, ‘Sure, I’m going with you.’
“Probably one of the most unselfish people, and a joy to be around.”
Bowerman’s family is also a big part of the Seneca East community. His sons, Jordan and Ryan, were standout players on the baseball team, Ryan even making all-Ohio. His niece, Jess, is one of the school’s top athletes, excelling in volleyball, basketball and softball.
“The Bowerman name, it’s with all those kids,” Lamoreaux said.
And another Bowerman joined the coaching ranks, with Jordan joining his father on the Seneca East baseball staff.
“Jordan’s fit in just like any other coach,” said Lamoreaux, who has remained as an assistant with the program. “He was a great player, but he fit in right with everybody else.”
Jordan said he enjoyed the season of coaching with his father.
“It was fun to be able to see how he looks at the game as a coach and how we would talk strategy,” he said. “Even in game prep and before innings, we would always pick each others brains to see what we’re thinking. I was able to look at him, and he had a lot more experience coaching, so I was able to gain a lot. It was just a really cool experience being able to coach right beside him.”
Bowerman said coaching for him isn’t just about athletics.
“I try to, for each sport I do, for whatever I do, make it — much more than the X’s and O’s and winning and losing — it’s trying to build character in my players,” he said. “Teach them sportsmanship and work ethic, and all that goes, all the stuff that goes into that.”
Lots of coaches say that, of course. But Mason said Bowerman is the real deal.
“There’s nothing fake about him. He’s a great personal friend,” Mason said. “He’ll give up whatever he wanted to do at that time, for you, and he’ll just put other people ahead of himself, or what he wants to do.”
Bowerman was asked what he’s taken from more than 25 years of coaching.
“The biggest takeaway I would say is just the relationship you have with players,” he said. “Being able to make the run to regionals we just had, and have players that you have 15-20 years ago send you a text, ‘Hey, good luck, Coach. Hope you do well, congratulations on a great season.’ To me that’s one of the biggest things.”
And there’s something else.
“Seeing players that you had in the past — it doesn’t matter if it’s high school or junior high — be successful in life,” Bowerman said. “And to me, that’s the most gratifying thing.”
Bowerman’s story is a lesson in success.
And a lesson in the value of patience.