By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Leave it to Christy Watt, the wife and biggest supporter of St. Mary’s-Colgan head baseball coach Mike Watt, to deliver the perfect summation of her husband’s career on Thursday night, just a couple hours after he recorded a milestone win.
“This is a tribute to his dedication and his love of this school and the sport itself,” Christy said. “This has always been his profession and in every way he is a professional.”
Finding someone at JayCee Ballpark to disagree with that statement — especially someone dressed in Colgan blue — would be a tall order.
With a 3-2 victory over rival Frontenac in the opener of a CNC doubleheader, Watt recorded career victory No. 500. Every one came during his 27-years-and-counting at Colgan, a tenure that has seen 12 state championships, three runners-up and a third-place finish.
“It’s a humbling experience,” he said. “I’ve worked with great kids. I’ve gotten calls and emails and texts from ex-players. It’s just humbling to know that I’ve been able to impact that many kids over that many years.”
Watt, the son of a high school coach, attended and played sports at Colgan, playing for longtime football coach Frank Crespino. He played baseball at the University of Kansas for four years before finishing his degree at Pittsburg State.
“I’ve been blessed in so many ways,” Watt said. “My dad was a high school coach and I learned to compete from him and then I go to school and I’m able to play for a coach like Frank Crespino and Pat Forbes and Ed Martin. ... And as a coach they showed you what it took to win.”
When Watt returned to Pittsburg after his time at Kansas, he was recruited to take over the American Legion team.
“I jumped in and haven’t quit yet,” he said.
He also met Christy that summer. They married in July of 1985. He began his teaching and coaching career at Colgan that fall.
Christy says she is sure she has missed a game somewhere along the way, but she can’t remember it. Their two sons, Willie and Jesse, grew up at the ball park.
“I’ve taken babies to the state tournament,” Christy said. “One year Jesse was five weeks old and Willie was 2 and they were right there.
“It’s been so much fun. It’s kind of been like a marker along with our married life. It started off just the two of us, traveling to ball games. Then the kids came along and all the fun with them, chasing them and playing cup ball behind the dugouts.”
Both sons helped win state titles for their father. And to emphasize just how much of a family affair it has been, Watt has had either a son or nephew on each of his 12 state championship teams.
“My family has been tremendous,” Watt said. “And Christy, she’s right here with me all the time and she allows me to do this. I’ve put in a tremendous amount of time and she cooks, cleans and does my scorebooks. It’s not just me, it’s everything around me. I’ve been blessed and it’s a great honor to do this.”
Watt’s career record now stands at 500 wins and 110 losses after Frontenac beat the Panthers 2-0 in Thursday’s nightcap. The Kansas State High School Activities Association counts regional byes as wins in a coach’s overall record. Watt has had nine of those byes, but he refuses to include them in his win total.
“The wins and losses aren’t something I really think about,” he said. “When I coach I just get lost in the game. I guess that’s why you call it a passion. When I’m out here I don’t think about anything but what’s going on in the ball park.
“I’ve just been blessed to be in a place that’s a baseball town and the kids love to play baseball. There is a lot of support for baseball here and I’m blessed to coach at a school that is rich in tradition and rich in athletes.”