Bert Holt, a 2014 COS Hall of Fame inductee, is one of those fortunate people whose vocation is his life. In his senior year at Greenville (CA) High School, where he lettered in three sports, Bert attended a baseball clinic in Chico taught by Pete Beiden. Impressed by Pete’s thoroughness in coaching fundamentals and respect for the game, Bert made a decision to attend Fresno State College and seriously engage in baseball. For four years he worked hard for a spot in the lineup and also studied the game as taught by Beiden. Bert’s love of baseball, especially when played well, developed into a calling to coach.
At Fresno State, Bert courted Sue Hord from Paso Robles, and they were married midway through his graduate year. Sue has been a lifetime partner with Bert in his baseball career as well as a wife and mother. He and Sue have four children: Dave, Darren, Teri, and Sheila—all of whom were athletes. Dave and Darren played for Bert at College of the Sequoias, at Fresno State and in professional baseball.
Bert began coaching in 1957 at Redwood High School in Visalia, where he was junior varsity coach for Sam Farsakian, one of many Beiden disciples coaching in the Valley. In 1960, Bert moved to Exeter Union High School, where after one year as J.V. coach he coached varsity baseball until 1965, winning one league championship.
In 1965 College of the Sequoias hired Bert to be assistant coach in football and baseball. He assisted Roy Taylor, another Beiden protégé in the baseball program. When Roy retired in 1968, Bert became head baseball coach at COS.
During his 21 years as head baseball coach at COS, Bert’s teams won 423 games and four conference championships. His 1970 team won the Northern California championship and was runner up to Cerritos for the state title. Four of his players – Jim Wohlford, Steve Straughter, Bob Ojeda and Brad Mills – played in the Major Leagues.
Bert is a member of California Community College Baseball Associations’ Hall of Fame, and his jersey number 6 has been retired at College of the Sequoias. When Pete Beiden retired at Fresno State, Bert was comfortable enough to ask him to coach fundamentals at COS, which not only helped the players develop but enabled Bert to keep learning.
Retiring from coaching in 1988, Bert became an area scout, first for the Chicago Cubs, then the Montreal Expos and finally the Colorado Rockies, a job he held until recently. Bert’s knowledge of fundamentals, his thoroughness in observation, and his work ethic made him an excellent scout.
Bert’s commitment to baseball is whole. A well kept ballfield, properly worn uniform, and reasonably disciplined players are as important as home runs and shutouts. Properly executed fundamentals are as important as wins and championships. A coach is an expert in agronomy, botany of grasses, irrigation systems, meteorology and the characteristics of cloth and leather as well as the fundamentals and rules of baseball. A coach interrupts his or her leisure to move a sprinkler or put a tarp on a mound, even in the dark. Most of all, a coach, knowing that the only way a player will learn fundamentals is through repetition, learns how to use a fungo and uses it often. Now that Bert is fully retired, he is playing more of another game he loves, golf, but many an afternoon after a morning round he can be found on the College of the Sequoias ball field hitting fungos as an assistant coach.