Followers of the local prep baseball scene know Rodger Fairless as the state’s most successful coach. Fairless wasn’t too shabby as a player, either.
Fairless, a standout first baseman and pitcher during Rancho’s heyday, had his No. 32 retired during a ceremony Friday at the Rams’ annual alumni game. Pitcher Charlie Barrett (No. 20) also had his number retired.
Fairless and Barrett are the sixth and seventh players to have their numbers retired by Rancho, which won eight state titles from 1959 to 1976. They join Marty Barrett (No. 1), Tommy Barrett (No. 1), John Huntington (No. 2), Mike Maddux (No. 13) and Tom Coleman (No. 14), who were presented plaques mounted with their jerseys Friday.
All but Maddux attended the ceremony, which drew approximately 400 people, according to Rams coach Tom Pletsch. Maddux’s father, Dave, accepted his award.
“Let’s put it this way,” the self-deprecating Fairless said. “My banner should be hanging on the right-field foul line compared to the guys that got honored.
“I was a decent player, but I can’t put myself in the same league as Mike Maddux, Marty Barrett, Tommy Barrett, guys like that. It’s a great honor for me to have Pletsch do something for me like that.”
Fairless helped the Rams to the 1969 Class 2A state title and earned all-state honors as a first baseman in 1969 and 1970 before he went on to Southern Utah. In 19 seasons as coach at Eldorado, Valley and Green Valley, Fairless went 493-80 and won a record 12 state titles, including six straight from 1993 to 1998 at Green Valley.
Fairless coached Greg Maddux at Valley, and the baseball field at Green Valley is named after him. He was selected as one of the “50 Greatest Sports Figures in Nevada” by Sports Illustrated in 1999, among myriad other honors.
Charlie Barrett led Rancho to the 1973 state title as a senior and was named Nevada’s player of the year. He was an 11th-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers and went 40-33 in six minor league seasons.
Fairless, 61, hasn’t coached since 1999, when he stepped down at College of Southern Nevada seven weeks after being hired to start the program. He said most of his time these days is spent with his 11-year-old twins.
Would Fairless consider a return to coaching?
“There’s always thoughts,” he said. “But that’s probably not ever going to happen.”
SURMACZ WINS STATE HEISMAN — Palo Verde tennis player Zack Surmacz was named the winner of the boys state Wendy’s High School Heisman Award. Volleyball player Moriah Maluotoga of Reed was the girls state award winner.
Surmacz, who attends West Career and Technical Academy, teamed with Jordan Baduria to win the Sunset Region doubles title and finish third at the Division I state tournament. He also helped the Panthers finish second in the state team tournament.
Surmacz was chosen from a group of 10 boys finalists and is eligible to be chosen for the national award, which will be announced Dec. 13 in New York City on ESPN2.
RECENT COMMITMENTS — Local baseball seniors who made nonbinding oral commitments include Matt Rogers of Palo Verde to Saint Mary’s (Calif.) and Foothill’s Nick Cardinale and Bligh Madris to Colorado Mesa.
In softball, Paige Blake of Basic and Joryan Brewer of Shadow Ridge committed to College of Southern Nevada. Alexa Snyder of Cimarron-Memorial committed to Eastern Florida State College, while Green Valley junior Tara Hilton committed to Brigham Young-Hawaii.
Girls soccer player Mikayla Ahlin of Silverado committed to Louisiana-Lafayette.
The early signing period, which excludes football, soccer and track and field/cross country, begins today and runs through Nov. 20.