Say It Ain’t So! It’s An End Of An Coaching Era As JV Baseball Coaches Burleigh and Meade Will Pass The Torch.

Coaches Jim Burleigh and Dan Meade Make 2024 Baseball Season Their Last.





Coach Jim Burleigh.



Coach Dan Meade.



One’s passion for baseball sometimes starts with a small spark, and for some it burns strongly and brighter, and for a few it is mixed with some talent which feeds that spark and leads to wonderful things. And for some, the love of baseball combines with a saintly selflessness, and they become high school baseball coaches.

Whether it was the inspiration of his coach Dan Bridges when Jim played baseball at Cal Tech, or how baseball lifted Dan out of the hardscrabble youth baseball fields in Malibu, or just the healthy addiction that leather and horsehide became for them, the continued love for the diamond led Coach Burleigh to give nine seasons of his time and dedication to the Acalanes Baseball community, while Dan has spent seven springs with the program.

It was first with the freshman team, where they ushered many talented young players into the program as they donned that Dons “A” blue cap for the first time. Later, after what may or may not have been an ultimatum from the home front that had not seen them for many years of spring Saturday doubleheaders, they seamlessly transitioned to the junior varsity team and the dynamic duo continued their success at that level.

Though the “good cop, bad cop” term has been humorously thrown out by the coaches in the past, and one plants himself in the third-base coach’s box while the other greets runners at first, they have qualities they share that make them great coaches. First, the aforementioned passion for the game that they possess and pass on to their players. (Both probably rank Rickey Henderson much higher than Ronald Reagan or Steven Spielberg on their list of important people of the 80’s.) They are patient and calm leaders, but stern (without being the proverbial baseball red ass), and wise beyond their years on the field. An example of their high school coaching prowess was on example in their ultimate game, last week’s contest at Miramonte. Locked in a tense extra-innings game, the opponents got the leadoff hitter on first to start the bottom of the eighth inning. From the dugout, Coach Burleigh hops up to call out a bunt defense call not familiar to the die-hard Dons fans in the crowd. After a brief meeting of the infielders at the mound, play resumes. In what is later described as a play the team has practiced again and again all season, but never put in play, a first-pitch pitch-out to the batter squaring to bunt is preceded by the unusual crashing of the first baseman. A snap throw by the catcher to the second baseman sneaking behind the runner at first is followed by “He’s out!” from the base umpire, and giddy laughter and claps at this wizardry from the Dons fans. I’m hoping Jim has many chuckles into his glass for years to come as he remembers that one. The same game had shown the coaches to be much more well-versed in the rules of the game being played, as well as displaying ample decorum as a leader when the game started to no longer resemble the pastoral calm typical of your usual contested game of JV baseball.

On behalf of dozens of Acalanes Baseball players and their families, I must also recognize the charity that the coaches’ better halves, Gayle Burleigh and Meredith Meade, have given to the Acalanes Baseball program. They both probably thought that once their husbands and sons had graduated from Buckeye Fields, they would see them a little more before dusk each spring. Thank you for sharing your men with the boys of Acalanes. On a personal note, this writer’s own youth baseball coaching career, the thousands of wonderful memories that went with it, the bonds created with sons on fields, and the happiness of sprinting from work to a baseball field would never have happened without the nudge and encouragement from Dan Meade many, many years ago.

For the lives that you have changed for the better, Jim and Dan, thank you.