Baseball has always been a big part of Bob Andrezejewski’s life.
“I was one of those guys that would sneak a radio in his bed when he was younger to listen to the Tiger ballgame,” Andrezejewski said. “This was back when I was 8, 9, 10-years old. I’ve always been a big baseball fan.”
Half a century later, the enthusiasm for the game is still there for the Saginaw Heritage skipper, who recently became the fourth baseball coach in state history to reach 1,000 career wins.
“I haven’t really tried to stay in coaching to try and get a certain number,” said Andrezejewski, who began his career in Bridgeport in 1970 before coming to Saginaw Heritage in 1996. “There are more positives than any kind of negative that comes up with coaching. Even though I’ve been coaching for a long time, every year is a new year. There are new players, a new direction – that’s just part of the challenge, and it’s exciting.”
Win No. 1,000 came on April 22, when the Hawks – who are now 11-2 on the season – defeated Beal City 12-3 in the Midland Dow Tournament. He entered the season with a 996-440 career record, and joins Pat O’Keefe of Grand Ledge, Larry Tuttle of Blissfield and Frank Sumbera of Grosse Pointe North in the state’s 1,000-win club.
While Andrezejewski said he hasn’t taken the time to think about reaching the milestone, his players certainly knew it was coming up and were excited to be part of the team that helped their coach reach it.
“It’s an honor to be part of the team that got that win for him, but I pitched in that game, so it was even more memorable for me to be able to contribute like that,” Heritage senior Brendan Jackson said. “To do it in that fashion, it really made it even more special.”
Andrezejewski was born and raised in Saginaw and attended Saginaw Arthur Hill High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He attended Central Michigan University before coming back to the Saginaw area and joining the Bridgeport baseball coaching staff as the junior varsity coach in 1970. He stayed in that position for three seasons before taking over the varsity position.
In more than 20 seasons at Bridgeport, through the spring of 1994, Andrezejewski had a 449-257 record.
“Then I took a year off – I wanted to concentrate more on my family,” he said. “I took a year off, and the opportunity came and they wanted me to try out for the head baseball job in Heritage, since I lived in the community. I said, ‘OK, I’ll do that for a year or so.’”
Twenty years, 558 wins, five Saginaw Valley League titles, six District titles, three Regional titles and three MHSAA Semifinal appearances later, Andrezejewski is still at Heritage, and still going strong.
“He’s definitely an old school guy, but in a good way,” Jackson said. “He’s a great leader, and he’s able to motivate his players to get things done, as you can see. He’s able to connect with his players.”
During a career that has spanned more than 40 years, Andrezejewski has plenty of special memories, but didn’t want to single any out as favorites. Instead, he said, it’s the relationships he’s made at both schools that really stick out to him. He still communicates with players he coached in the 1970s, and it’s things like that which stand out more than championships.
“We’ve had teams that were very, very good that went a long ways, and we had teams that were very, very good that didn’t get out of the Districts,” Andrezejewski said. “We’ve had teams that were maybe mediocre that had things click at the right time. That’s what makes baseball so much fun, because it’s so unpredictable. Just because you have a real good team or an average team, it doesn’t mean you’re going to come out on top or make it through. One game should not make the season.”
Perhaps that’s why Andrezejewski’s rallying cry isn’t to go out and win the game, but to go out and play your best. It’s something that has stuck with his players.
“He doesn’t care about winning or losing, he cares about us going out and playing our hardest,” Heritage senior outfielder and pitcher Noah Marcoux said. “He just wants us to go out and give it our best, and winning or losing, that will come.”
It’s a message that has resonated generation after generation for Andrezejewski. So even though he’s coached through five different decades, he’s still reaching and motivating his players.
“I’m a firm believer that baseball is really a timeless sport, and being able to connect through that is really the key to getting your guys fired up and ready to go,” Jackson said. “He has so much baseball wisdom with the experiences he’s had and the teams he’s coached, you can’t not give the guy respect. And even beside that, he’s just a great guy.”
Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Heritage coach Bob Andrezejewski reached 1,000 wins as a high school baseball coach April 22; here he instructs Devin Sutter before his at bat against Flint Carman-Ainsworth on April 24. (Middle) Andrezejewski was selected to be part of the coaching staff for the first North/South Baseball Classic with high school players from Bay City and Saginaw taking on players from Flint on July 15, 2015, at Dow Diamond. (Photos by Lamont Lenar/Township View).
Standish-Sterling’s run to the 2022 Division 3 Semifinals was driven in part by a record-setting offense, including a pair of senior standouts who posted single-season and career highlights.
The Panthers made the team record book in four categories, topped by a record 28 triples over 42 games. They also were added for 371 RBI (fourth all-time), 425 runs (12th) and 414 hits.
Cole Prout tied the MHSAA record for runs scored in one season with 84 and set the record with 27 career triples over three seasons (with 2020 canceled due to COVID-19). His 13 triples in 2022 tied for third on that list, while Chase Raymond’s 10 tied for 11th. Prout also tied for 12th all-time with 182 career runs, while Raymond is eighth on the single-season RBI list with 77 over 42 games in 2022 and earned a career RBI entry with 140.
Prout plays now at Central Michigan, and Raymond is playing at Saginaw Valley State.
See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA baseball record book:
Alden Stefanovski played a major role in Whitmore Lake reaching the 2022 Division 4 Semifinals. The senior also made the record book with 20 doubles over 33 games, the first from his school to earn a listing. He was joined in 2023 in the records by senior Alex Di Dio, who hit nine triples over 29 games and also three home runs in one game April 13 against Adrian Madison. Di Dio also was added for 13 triples and a .460 average for his three-season career, and he’s continuing at Kalamazoo College.
Trenton senior Jason Marshall was nearly unstoppable on the base paths during the 2022 season – and perfect stealing on them. He made the record book with 49 steals in 49 attempts, and also for seven triples over 35 games. He’s playing football at Eastern Michigan.
Trent Hagenbach finished his Saginaw Valley Lutheran career in 2022 tied for 11th on the career triples list with 16 despite not having a 2020 season and hitting all of them over the final two. He also made the records for his seven as a junior and nine as a senior.
Dansville had 10 pitchers contribute to its 388 strikeouts over 38 games during the 2022 season, a total which placed the Aggies second all-time. Tucker Mosley paced the team with 137 strikeouts.
Parchment’s Aaron Jasiak finished his three-season varsity career with seven record book entries, including one of the most impressive winning streaks all-time. He won all 26 pitching starts over his career, which didn’t start until his sophomore season because of the COVID-related cancelation of 2020. His winning streak is the seventh longest in MHSAA history, and his 0.87 ERA ranks 11th. He also made career lists with 163 runs scored, 112 stolen bases and a .460 batting average over 103 games, and his 60 steals over 38 games this spring rank 10th. He’s continuing at Hillsdale College.
Bay City Western finished 42-2 in winning the Division 1 championship in 2013, ranking sixth for most wins in a baseball season. The Warriors also tied the record with 21 shutouts, and their 1.02 ERA ranks fifth all-time.
Grandville Calvin Christian senior Blake Pettijohn struck out 20 batters in a 7-0 win over Belding on May 11, which tied for seventh-most for a seven-inning game. He’s continuing at Hope College.
Grant’s Oakley Obenauf made the single-season stolen bases list in the spring with 45 over 29 games – and was a major contributor as his team made the single-game list multiple times. He had a combined eight steals over two games as Grant swiped 13 and 11 bases during halves of a doubleheader May 11. Obenauf is a senior this school year.
Paw Paw reached the team record book this past spring after being hit by 50 pitches over 30 games. Seven players were hit by at least five pitches, with the team leader totaling 10.
Lansing Eastern earned its first record book entries from a pair of graduating seniors this spring. Dominic Wilson capped his three-season varsity career with 134 stolen bases, which rank 10th. He swiped a career-high 51 as a senior. Teammate Matthew Stevenson made the career batting average list at .472 despite getting only eight at bats as a sophomore because of an injury.
Benzie Central’s Wyatt Noffsinger enjoyed a memorable run to nearly finish off his high school career, throwing consecutive no-hitters against Buckley on May 24 and then Manton on June 3.
Okemos then-junior Caleb Bonemer earned his first record book entry with three home runs June 3 against Grand Ledge as his team clinched a Division 1 District title. Bonemer has committed to sign with Virginia.
After 45 years, Flint Southwestern’s Ruben Luna and Risto Nicevski were added for their accomplishments on the 1978 Class A championship team. Luna made the wins list with a record of 14-0 and the ERA list with a 0.71, and Nicevski made the ERA list with a 0.72. Both went on to play at Michigan State.
East Lansing’s Sam Busch enjoyed a career day on April 12, 2019, when he hit three home runs in consecutive at bats against Ionia. A junior that season, he’s now playing at Michigan State.
Powers North Central’s Adrian Mercier enjoyed a record-worthy junior season this spring. He hit .619 over 32 games, ranking 10th all-time for a single season.
Whitehall senior Cayden Ritchie chased and nearly caught the single-season stolen base record in 2021, when he tied for second with 72 steals over 36 games. He also made the single-game steals list five times, twice with a high of six.
Aidan Liedeke capped his Brighton Charyl Stockwell career in the spring with some of the most impressive strikeout numbers in state history. Already listed for averaging 15.41 strikeouts per game as a junior in 2022, he averaged 14.92 Ks per game this spring to finish his three-season career at 15 strikeouts per game. He posted a 0.88 ERA in the spring as well to finish with a career 1.52. He’s playing at Kalamazoo College.
Killian Bies finished his Marshall three-season career in the spring among leaders all-time for getting hit by pitches. He already had tied for sixth as a sophomore in 2021 with 22 HBPs, and with 14 more both his junior and senior seasons he finished with 50 to rank fifth on that list. He’s continuing at Cornerstone.
PHOTO Standish-Sterling's Cole Prout (8) readies for a pitch during his team's 2022 Division 3 Semifinal.