JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bob West admits that it was all a bit overwhelming.
So many people were a part of his success through the years, that the former Bishop Kenny baseball coach felt a little embarrassed to be getting all the recognition himself.
But it was well earned. Well deserved.
The school named the stadium after West on Saturday, honoring one of the most successful coaches and athletic directors in area history.
West is one of the most successful baseball coaches on the First Coast, a state hall of fame selection in 2016. He won a state title in 2002 and then enjoyed the second act of his career came off the field as Kenny’s athletic director.
West, who started as a teacher at Kenny in 1977, went 532-129 during his career as the Crusaders baseball coach. He took Kenny to the state semifinals 10 times over his 23-year head coaching career and helped make the program one of the most recognizable baseball brands — with some of the top facilities — in the state.
Kenny steadily churned out major college signees under West and had 16 players who he coached taken in the pro draft. Six of those reached the big leagues, including Darren O’Day, who is still in the majors with the Braves. West coached a first-round pick (Kevin Witt in 1994) and the area’s only Mr. Baseball winner, Tony Richie, who won the award in 2000.
“Its humbling, it’s embarrassing, it’s also one that you realize that you’ve got to spread the wealth around because so much of that was done by a lot of other people and I was always lucky to have great people around me,” West said. “Between players, coaches and parents, it’s a big award for a lot of people.”
West was inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Association hall of fame in 2016, the same year that he retired.
West said that he was overwhelmed by the turnout for the afternoon event prior to Kenny’s game against Tallahassee Lincoln.
“It’s unbelievable the people that turned out today,” he said. “The alumni, just the families that you grow so close, to particularly at a place like Kenny, and for them to be here, it means a lot.”