By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
When asked about his prolific amount of victories as a softball coach, Guy Leeder has a relatively simple explanation.
It’s not a superb expertise in men’s slow-pitch softball, according to Leeder, but that he’s merely outlasted almost everyone else while compiling in excess of 2,500 wins.
“It sounds like a lot, but it started in 1969 so it wasn’t any overnight deal,” Leeder says.
But his players say there’s a bit more to it than that.
“In the lower classifications, sometimes it’s all about beer drinking and having fun,” said Corey Adams, 30, who is on Leeder’s current team. “But the class we play in, there’s sponsorship money in the thousands of dollars. And the teams we play — sometimes there’s guys on the teams that are ex-major league baseball players.
“He’s always keeping track of what the other team’s players are doing. He’s always yelling out stuff like, ‘Hey, Corey, this guy’s come at you the last three times.’”
One remarkable facet of Leeder’s overall win total is the sheer exercise in keeping track of such a statistic. In a sport where tournaments not only last all weekend but games go on all night long, it’s sometimes difficult to remember every result.
“It is hard,” he said. “There’s no way I could prove it, and you know stats are stats and I like stats, but what I would do every year with my new scorebooks is I would pencil in the number (of previous wins) in the upper right hand corner. Never the losses now.”
Leeder is the rare individual who has been selected for hall-of-fame honors for both of the major softball organizations — the ASA and USSSA. Owner of his own Clovis business, his teams always bear its name, “Guy’s Electric,” when they take the field.
Speaking of fields, Leeder’s position in the Clovis softball community is so prominent that the complex on 14th Street actually bears his name.
Adams and others on the current squad planned a celebration after his 2,500th win. But Leeder, not feeling well, left that particular game early for a trip to the hospital.
That trip eventually turned into treatment for a blood clot for the 63-year-old.
Adams said that the team decided to postpone the celebration until last weekend’s state tournament in Albuquerque.
Leeder planned to go to the state tourney, keeping alive a streak that extends all the way back to the summer of ’69.
“He has a huge passion for softball — a huge passion for the community, actually,” Adams said. “His latest thing is to try to bring up women’s fast-pitch softball. That’s a community-thing. He realizes that if Clovis (High) girls softball ever wants to compete, they’ve got to start younger.”
The Clovis softball legend doesn’t need a scorecard to assist him in remembering the players on his past teams: Don Clifton, David Richards, Eric Roanhaus (“he was in on 300-400 wins,” Leeder says) and many more.
According to Leeder, it was a common love for another childhood sport that initially brought them all together once upon a time.
“It was just the love of playing and not wanting to give up baseball, that’s all slow-pitch is,” Leeder said. “We’re all baseball players and when we got too old to play it, we went to the alternative, which was not great but it kept us doing something.”