Andy Helling

Andy Helling was born on January 27, 1928 and graduated from Sumner High School in 1946. Following a tour of duty with the Marines he enrolled at Pacific Lutheran College and graduated in 1956 with a degree in Education.  He subsequently taught Industrial Arts at Puyallup high with an emphasis on woodworking and carpentry. 

While at Sumner, Andy earned three letters in football along with the team's Most Inspirational Award, one letter in basketball and just one in baseball since his senior year was the first year baseball was offered again following the war years. " Although I was more of an infielder, in high school I caught most of the games because nobody else wanted to do it. And, I ran too slow to earn a letter in track, but I did participate anyway", recalled Andy.

While in the Marines, Andy helped organize and played for the Pearl Harbor Marines team on Kwajalein that played in a 13-team Naval Base League. He the team's third sacker and got a chance to play in Honolulu Stadium when his club faced SubPac for the island's 14th Naval District championship, the winner traveling to Brooklyn to play in the All-Service championships in Ebbets Field. In the battle for the District crown Andy went 5-6 and played flawlessly at the hot corner to help his team qualify for the trip back East with an 18-hit attack as they edged SubPac, 16-15.  With only two days left of his military commitment, Andy was unable to join his teammates in New York so he headed home and enrolled at PLC.

 Andy played third base and was a member of the Lutes' Evergreen Conference championship team in 1953. His exposure to football and basketball coach Ed McCoy at Sumner and baseball coach Bob Wiley helped him realize that coaching was a great way to stay involved in the game and help others but, it was playing under Coach Marv Tommervik and then under Coach Marv Harshman at the Parkland school that really helped him develop a passion for coaching and led him to spend 23 seasons as head coach of the Puyallup Vikings baseball team. 

"I started out coaching when I was in the third grade. I formed a baseball team at Mt. View, Near Edgewood, to play the nearby grade schools from Edgewood, Jovita and Milton. Later I held to from and coach a 16 & under team from Edgemont and then I coached and played on a fastpitch team in Sumner," Andy recalled.

 He continued, "Baseball was only offered my last year in high school and so I helped Bob Wiley, our coach, when he was unable to be at practice.  It just came natural to me."

During his tenure at the help of the Viks, they won three Puget Sound League championships and Andy was named Coach of the Year three times as well. His first Regional crown was claimed in 1967 led by pitcher Tom Horne. Horne joins Jim Streleski, Doug Theriault, and Scott Hohensinner as Viks under Helling's tutelage that went on to play professionally.  Additionally, pitcher Steve Sand went on to play college baseball at the University of Southern California where he garnered All-Star honors under legendary coach Rod Dedeaux, himself a former Tacoma Tigers infielder in 1938.

 Asked about the greatest baseball player he coached and Andy responded, I had a lot of outstanding players but Dan Thurston was a heck of a player. He only played one season for me because I think Coach (Bob) Ryan wanted him to run track and get ready for football but had he played I think he probably would have been the best ever because he was blessed with natural God-given talent.

Helling also coached the Puyallup entry for two years in American Legion competition and in the 1950s he played in the Valley League for Puyallup and for McKinley Hill, and also played one season of fastpitch for the Sumner A.C. where he was an All-Star selection.

 Little did Andy know however, that when he retired from coaching at Puyallup he would resurrect his old position by coaching a contingent of former Puyallup/Sumner area coaches and players (such as Jerry DeLaurenti, Dick Halleen, Cott Zehnder) in the Half Century Slowpitch League hosted by Pierce County Parks and Recreation Department. 

Clearly, Helling's contributions to baseball locally are worthy of presenting him with the Marv Scott Coaches Award.