Ever heard the phrase ‘If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life’? It’s true, Dean Bowyer has been coaching college baseball since Ronald Reagan was president, and thought he was ready to hang up the cleats.
“I’ve got the energy and the voice, the legs don’t react to the voice. So, I love still doing it, but I don’t move around nearly as quickly as I use to,” said Bowyer.
But he wasn’t ready to give it up, just yet.
“I need counseling everyday I get back from practice because of these two guys,” Bowyer jokes in the dugout at practice.
This year he’s coming out of retirement, as a volunteer assistant coach for the defending National Champion, Augustana Vikings.
“We should’ve hit the ball that hard the other day,” he jokes at practice.
Bowyer and his wife recently moved to Sioux Falls to be closer to family. His son in law is Augustana Head Football Coach Jerry Olszewski. When Vikings Head Coach Tim Huber heard his old college coach was coming to town, he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to bring him on board.
“So I just said, hey I know you got the itch, you want to be around the game, we’d love to have you. For me, it’s been great, it’s come full circle from being my college coach, to now coaching with us. Just provides so much for our guys and it’s more than just baseball,” said Huber.
“I remember the first time he said, hey this is Coach Boyer. He probably knows more baseball than you will ever forget. And I said these guys must really be dumb,” said Bowyer.
You may not know it, but Bowyer is a college baseball legend.
“My first college job was at Minot, I went to Mayville State, and so my head coach at Mayville kind of got me the job at Minot. I was there for four years. Then I found out there was a God, he got me out of North Dakota,” said Bowyer.
The NSIC Hall of Fame inductee is coming off a 32-year coaching career at Minnesota State-Mankato. His teams won more than 1,000 games, while being crowned league champions during 22 of those 32 years.
“These guys always are checking to see what I have on underneath my blue shirt,” Bowyer jokes.
“Mankato even has a field named after him. His presence is just really cool, everyone loves having him around, joking around with him. But added on to that, everyone listens to him whenever he has something to say,” said Augustana outfielder Riley Johnson.
Before turning to coaching, Bowyer played professionally. He even learned from one of the game’s best.
“Good Lord just blessed me with good coaching when I played, and I was able to play pro ball for a couple years. I played for Cal Ripken Sr., he taught me more baseball in two summers than I had learned in my lifetime,” said Bowyer.
But it’s Bowyer’s love of the game that’s impacting the Vikings the most.
“He’s great to have around, he’s just like this ball of energy that everyone feeds off of. He’s just out here having fun.,” said Augustana catcher Lucas Wylie.
“I’m being the smaller guy on the team, so he always tells me dynamite comes in small packages, don’t worry about size. He cracks me up all the time,” said Augustana outfielder Michael Svozil.
With each pitch, and every swing, comes a message from Coach Bowyer.
“The thing I love telling guys is, what you do today you’ll never get it back, and whether you play a game or not, you’ve got to look in the mirror and say I gave it my best shot whether won or loss, I’ve got to feel good about that,” said Bowyer.
He may be in his mid-seventies, but Bowyer says baseball is his fountain of youth.
“I just love being around young people, it just helps you stay young. I’m not crazy about games, but I love teaching the game and seeing how guys progress and stuff, so that’s where I get my satisfaction, Bowyer added.