Shorewood baseball coach Wyatt Tonkin gives advice to a player in the infield as catchers practice behind him in 2017. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Shorewood baseball coach Wyatt Tonkin gives advice to a player in the infield as catchers practice behind him in 2017. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Shorewood baseball coach Wyatt Tonkin passes at 69

The Stormrays’ assistant coaches will take over from the Hall of Famer the remainder of the season.

Legendary and longtime Shorewood High School baseball coach Wyatt Tonkin passed away on Mar. 26. His cause of death was not reported. A celebration of life ceremony was held at the school’s gymnasium on Saturday. He was 69 years old.

Tonkin had been Shorewood’s head coach for the past 26 seasons, becoming a revered and beloved figure within the Shoreline community. Tonkin totaled a 367-145 win-loss record, leading the Stormrays, formerly known as the Thunderbirds, to five state tournament semifinal appearances. In 2017, he was inducted into the Washington State Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.

“He thrived around coaching baseball,” Shoreline School District athletic director Don Dalziel said. “But, he was never afraid to take on a new assignment if we ever needed help. … He was always wanting to help the team. A consummate team player was a great way to describe him.”

The Stormrays’ assistant coaches will coach the team by committee the remainder of the season.

Tonkin graduated from O’Dea High School in 1972 before pitching at the University of Washington for four years. In 1976, he was selected in the 20th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Atlanta Braves.

While at Shorewood Tonkin also spent 17 seasons helping coach the Stormrays’ football team, as well as three seasons coaching middle school. Tonkin was also Shorewood’s gym manager for volleyball, basketball and wrestling events.

“Wyatt was always teaching, not just his players but other coaches as well,” said Shorecrest coach Alan Burns, who spent six seasons as a junior-varsity coach under Tonkin before taking over at Shorecrest in 2005. “The baseball lessons came along with a terrific story from his storied baseball past. As a young coach, he showed me the importance of building team camaraderie, paying attention to the little things and making sure players understand the purpose of what they were doing in practice.”

Tonkin grew a reputation for developing young, up-and-coming arms on his pitching staff. Former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, Riley O’Brien and Ian Oxnevad are just a handful of the big names who passed through his program over the years.

“I think he just set a great example,” Dalziel said. “He demonstrated the epitome of being a gentleman and allowed his student athletes to absorb that. … His baseball field was just an extension of the classroom, there were always lessons to be taught. Whether that was a baseball lesson or a life lesson, he always had the ability to do that.”

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