Every so often, we are lucky enough to leave a positive impact in some form or fashion. It is an innate effect of human interaction that we rarely realize until after the fact.
Some call it a legacy. Some think it our duty. Others just hope to get out of here without being completely forgotten.
On Wednesday afternoon, an email sent from a funeral home in Colorado notified the Daily Light of the passing of Bill Borgers — a former high school baseball coach that one time served as the skipper for Midlothian and Waxahachie High Schools.
Borgers was also the head coach of the 1965 3A State Champion baseball team that will forever live in Indian baseball lore for defeating Alvin High School and Nolan Ryan in Austin.
Neither I nor anyone on staff at the Daily Light had the opportunity to play or learn for Borgers during his time leading the Indian baseball team. Though, it takes only one read through the article written in 2005 by the late John Hicks or one conversation with one of Borgers’ former players to realize the impact and subsequent legacy he left behind.
Of course, it also takes one read to realize the impact Hicks had on the community of Waxahachie, as well. Hicks, who passed away Feb. 24, 2006, eloquently brought to life a persona of a team built by the hardnosed style of Borgers.
In his obituary published Feb. 12, 2006, in the Daily Light, Hicks was described as “a rare individual that stood above the crowd. His kind and gentle nature made him a friend to everyone he met. John loved reporting accomplishments of the people of Ellis County. It didn’t matter if he was covering a T-ball game or a high school playoff tournament. He believed everyone he wrote about was special and he worked tirelessly to ensure every organization received the recognition they deserved. In his eyes, they were all champions.”
“John’s passion was evident in his work,” the article added. Hicks was a champion of Waxahachie and it is evident, to this day, in his writing.
Though I personally never had the opportunity to meet Borgers, I think we would have gotten along. It was obvious that he liked to win, cared deeply for his players and was a champion in every sense of the word. From the stories of yesteryear that have been passed around the clubhouse at Paul Richards Park for the last five decades or more, Borgers sounds an awful lot like the two well-respected head coaches who now roam his former dugouts in Waxahachie and Midlothian.
He, just like Tracy Wood and Ray Hydes, is the epitome of what baseball is supposed to be — tough, gritty and no-nonsense, with a fire that fuels a passion for the game.
During a conversation with Dale Fincher, who was the catcher on the 1965 state championship team, the 2016 WHS Athletic Hall of Fame inductee said because of Borgers the ballclub would “challenge hell with a bucket of water.”
That phrase has stuck with me since our conversation in early September — and not because it’s a catchphrase I’d like to see on a bumper sticker.
It is the reflection of a leader who created a mindset in a group of young men. A mindset that pushed a bunch of teenage ballplayers to not accept failure and damn sure not let anyone say you cannot be successful.
Whether challenging hell, holding the rope or expecting to win, Waxahachie baseball, the communities of Ellis County and the Daily Light as a whole are better for having known of the legacy left behind by Borgers.
Godspeed, coach Bill Borgers, and thank you for further proving that “It takes a little more to make a Champion.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith