The 2009 baseball season was certainly memorable for Matt Fields of Lake Stevens.
First, he capped a fine four-year career at Gonzaga University with an outstanding senior season. Then he realized a dream of being drafted into professional baseball, and he went on to a glittering pro debut as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays farm system.
The 23-year-old Fields, a finalist for The Herald's Man of the Year in Sports for 2009, used his senior season to improve on a strong junior season. In 2009, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-handed pitcher went 8-1 with two complete games and one shutout while posting a 3.47 earned run average. He struck out 74 batters in 902⁄3 innings.
With those kinds of numbers, awards were sure to follow. Fields, a 2004 graduate of Lake Stevens High School, was named a third-team Collegiate Baseball All-American, the West Coast Conference pitcher of the year, and was chosen to the All-WCC first team.
Later in the summer, Fields was selected in the 22nd round of the major league draft by the Blue Jays and assigned to the team's rookie league team in Florida's Gulf Coast League.
With the GCL Blue Jays, Fields pitched in 14 games, making nine starts, and in 512⁄3 innings he had no record, but gave up just 35 hits while striking out 54 and compiling a fine 1.22 ERA.
Andy Bottin, baseball
Andy Bottin has spent a lifetime in professional baseball, first as a player and later as a coach and a manager.
This season is his 16th as a coach and manager with the Seattle Mariners organization.
Bottin, who lives on Camano Island in baseball's offseason, spent the past two years as the manager for the Mariners' rookie-level Peoria Mariners in the Arizona League.
And in 2009, Bottin guided the club to the league championship — his first title since he was a minor league player himself in the New York Yankees organization back in 1967.
His team's successful season led Bottin to be a finalist for The Herald's Man of the Year in Sports for 2009.
Bottin's squad finished with a league-leading record of 32-21. In the postseason playoff finale, the Mariners defeated the San Francisco Giants' affiliate, 3-2.
For his team's accomplishments, Bottin was named the Arizona League's manager of the year.
In recent years, Bottin spentseveral seasons as a coach for the Everett AquaSox of the Northwest League.
Bill Iffrig, running
Maybe a lot of people slow down as they age, but not Bill Iffrig.
Iffrig, who lives in east Everett, will turn 76 in a few months. Some people that age get their exercise in a rocking chair, but Iffrig is still an enthusiastic and very successful distance runner.
In 2009, Iffrig ran more than a dozen road races from 5Ks (3.1 miles) up to a full marathon. He won every race in his age group but one, with one of his age-group victories coming in the Seattle Marathon in November. He covered the full 26 miles, 385 yards, in 3 hours, 51 minutes.
His achievements in running have made Iffrig a finalist for The Herald's Man of the Year in Sports for 2009.
Last year, Iffrig was training about 25-30 miles a week and competing once or twice a month. He shows up at many of the top road races in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle's Beat the Bridge race, Spokane's Bloomsday Run, and, of course, the Seattle Marathon.
By entering the Seattle Marathon, Iffrig was running his first full marathon in 19 years — it was his 38th career marathon.
Iffrig closed 2009 by competing at the 10 K (6.2 miles) USA Track and Field national cross country championships in Lexington, Ky. Iffrig's 70-79 team placed first, and Iffrig was the 75-79 national champion.
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