Reece takes over at Granite
Thad Reece — GHHS' new baseball coach
A cliche that’s become a part of society as a whole is appropriate when it comes to Thad Reece being named as the new baseball coach at Granite Hills High.
“This kind of came from left field,” said Reece, who has been a well known figure in baseball in the community ever since his playing days at Porterville High, where he graduated in 1977. While Reece wasn’t looking for the chance to return to coaching, which the chance came, he jumped at it.
“Looking at the big picture, I love kids, I love baseball,” Reece said. “The two work together well. I love coaching.”
Reece is also the Porterville Little League president, and while it may seem like a huge task to take on being a Little League president and a varsity baseball coach, Reece looks at the two positions as a partnership, as a way to develop baseball in the community, especially in the part of the community where Granite Hills is located.
“I really think they’re going to work well,” said Reece about being Little League president and Granite Hills’ coach. Reece said he hopes to have more youth in the Granite area play Little League baseball. “We’re looking to get more kids involved on the east side of town,” Reece said.
Reece has also not been shy when expressing his concerns on how feeder programs had been preparing players for high school baseball in the past, so as baseball coach at Granite and as Little League president, Reece can stay involved in how players are being prepared for the high school level.
Reece served as the Porterville High’s baseball coach from 1998 through 2007. In his first full season in 1998, PHS won its first East Yosemite League title in 19 years. During his tenure at PHS, the Panthers won four league titles.
The biggest highlight for Reece during his tenure came when PHS beat Valley power Stockdale 3-1 in the championship game of the North Tournament. Reece said that moment has to rank as one of the greatest in PHS baseball history.
There’s no denying building a competitive program at Granite will be a challenge, but Reece said, “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
He said Granite’s move to the East Sequoia League should help and he added he hopes the program will reach the point where it’s “hopefully winning championships.”
It was encouraging, Reece said, to see about 50 students who are prospective baseball players show up for a meeting on Thursday. Reece noted only several of the students who showed up were freshmen.
Reece said he plans to run Granite’s program like a Major League organization with the varsity being the Major League team and the freshmen and junior varsity clubs being the minor league teams. “The development process at the junior varsity level and the freshmen level is going to be a key,” Reece said.
And championships at the freshmen and JV level won’t be the objective, but championships at the varsity level will, Reece said. He noted he won two titles in the minor leagues and nobody other than those he played with remembers.
Reece has had a distinguished playing career. He played at Hawaii, playing for a team that finished as the national runner-up in the College World Series in 1980. After Hawaii, he went on to a professional career, coming within an eyelash of making the Oakland Athletics Major League roster. Reece and the 1980 Hawaii team were also inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
And again as far as success at the high school level in the community and at Granite, it all begins at Little League. He said Porterville Little League’s goal is to “be able to see these players develop into high school baseball players.”