Andy Bilesky      


Andy BileskyAndy Bilesky

   Andy Bilesky

Born : Trail, BC, 1919
Died : Trail, BC, February 19, 2008

Trail 1939-1949
Fruitvale 1950-1955
Trail 1956-1962

The following from the BC Sports Hall of Fame

Andy Bilesky put together his first Little League team back in 1952 and he never looked back. Since that first season, his teams won the District 8 championship 28 times (1958-60, 1962-76), the BC championships eleven times (1962,1964-65, 1967, 1970, 1976, 1980-82, 1985, 1990), and the Canadian national championships five times (1967, 1976, 1980-81, 1990). He went to the Little League World Series five times, winning the “Most Sportsmanlike Team” award in 1967 and placing fourth in 1981 and third in 1990. According to the Canadian Little League Association, Bilesky is the only coach to have taken a team to the world championships more than three times.

Through his selfless efforts and hard work, a Little League baseball park, named of course, “Andy Bilesky Park,” was opened in 1975 in Trail. The park boasts two regulation size Little League diamonds with covered dugouts and a concession stand. To provide for a winter ball program, Bilesky rented a gymnasium three times a week, out of his own funds, to allow practice sessions for his players. He also provided for pitching practice sessions at the local Webster School.

Bilesky’s awards of recognition were numerous over the years. BC Amateur Baseball’s “Coach of the Year” in both 1967 and 1976, and named "Trail’s Citizen of the Year” in 1968, Bilesky’s big year came in 1984 with his induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1987, the Canadian championships were held in Trail in his honour. In 1987 and 1990, he received certificates of Merit from the Canadian government. He was also presented with the Daryl Thompson Award by Sport BC for his incredible contribution to sport in the province.

But most important was what Bilesky gave to his players. In his quiet way, he imparted to his kids a great knowledge of the game, and instilled in them the meaning of sportsmanship, dedication and discipline. Bilesky’s own idealism and sincerity were reflected in the actions of his players on and off the field as they represented their hometown, province and country with distinction and honour.

From Lyndon Little, Vancouver Sun, 2008

Legendary Trail Little League coach Andy Bilesky died Tuesday. He was 88.

A Trail native, Bilesky underwent treatment for prostate cancer eight years ago and it is believed the illness returned within the past year. He spent several weeks in hospital over the Christmas period.

"When I talked to Andy while he was in the hospital it was clear he was intending to coach again this summer," said Fred Romano, who got to know Bilesky well during his 15 years as president of the Trail Little League Association. "He said, 'Fred, I'm really looking forward to next season. I've got a couple of good pitchers coming up.' "

A long-time employee at the Tec-Cominco smelter, Bilesky put together his first Little League team in 1952. His accomplishments as a coach included 28 district championships, 11 provincial titles and five Canadian championships. He took his Trail team to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in 1967, '76, '80, '81 and '90.

At Williamsport, his team placed third in 1990 and fourth in 1981 and also won the most sportsmanlike team award in 1967. According to the Canadian Little League Association, Bilesky is the only coach to have taken a team to the Little League World Series more than three times.

He never married and his players were part of his extended family. Among the players who played little league for Bilesky are current major league star Jason Bay of the Pittsburgh Pirates and former National Hockey League player Ray Ferraro.

Bilesky was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. He's also a member of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame (1994). He was chosen coach of the year by B.C. Amateur Baseball in 1967 and again in 1976.

In 1975, Andy Bilesky Little League Park was named in his honour by the city. "Andy could be quite intimidating until you got to know him," recalls Romano. "He practised his players pretty hard. He was difficult to get to know, but once you did he was very approachable."

Romano's favourite Bilesky story involves one of the rare times the legendary Trail coach complained about an on-field call. "Andy almost never argued with the umpires," laughs Romano. "But I remember a time when we were playing in a tournament in Whitefish, Mont., Andy deadpanned to the umpire: 'You know, sir, usually when the ball gets there before the runner he's called out