Nov. 28, 2023 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Community College is mourning the death of alumnus Doug Wabeke, who coached the baseball team to NJCAA Division II World Series championships in 1996, 1997, 2003 and 2004.
Wabeke died Saturday at the age of 65.
He played shortstop and was a two-time All American as a student at what was then Grand Rapids Junior College and earned all-academic honors while pursuing his bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University. He also earned a master’s degree from Miami University in Ohio.
Wabeke played in the minor leagues with the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1980 to 1984, climbing as high as Class AA.
He began his 17-year GRCC coaching career in 1987 and served as co-athletic director in 1997. He reached 500 wins in 1998, his 11th season.
Wabeke also served as head coach at Grand Valley State University, an assistant coach at Miami University, head coach of the USA junior national team at the 2003 Pan American Games, coaching staff member of the USA senior national team, and hitting coach at Davenport University.
He was named to the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2022. He and players on the 1996 and 1997 teams were honored during a GRCC baseball game at LMCU Ballpark in 2002.
“Right now a lot of former players and coaches are hurting,” said current GRCC baseball coach Mike Eddington, who served as Wabeke’s assistant coach during the 2004 championship. “No one was more passionate about winning than Doug when he played baseball and also as a coach.”