2015 Hall of Fame Sponsor Inductee
Wes & Dodie Drake, Wes’ Super Mart

COMPLETE LIST FOR ALL YEARS (1966-76-Missing 1966-68 players):

Sponsors:  Wes & Dodie Drake, Wes’s Super Mart (1966-1976)

Al Burmester (coach), Tom Burmester (coach), Al Murch (coach), Tom Dickson (player-coach), Steve Schneider (player-coach), Gus Carlson (trainer), Robert Loiland (business manager), Rick Absten, Jon Anderson, Glenn Ashiem, Tom Ashiem, Grant Asplund, Bob Barkley, Les Bennett, Mike Berger, Scott Bowman, Mike Bryant, Robert Brynteson, Wayne Burki, Mark Butts, Jeff Carbone, Gus Carlson, Doug Cey, Chris Christianson, Greg Cole, Tim Cole, Wayne Collins, Earl Conklin, Jerry Cozad, Tom Cromie, Ron Curley, Mike Dickson (dec.), Ken Driscoll, Jim Eckley, Jim Ehlers, Lew Estabrook, Greg Firn, Jim Fode, Gene Frazier, Larry Girk, Greg Guild, Marc Guild, Rick Guild, Rick Haavik, Bill Hanson, Dennis Hatton, Mike Hauser, Bob Haynes, Ralph Heard, Lane Hobbs, Buddy Horton, Tony Gengl, Cliff Johnson, Gary Jones, Steve Jones, Rich Jordan, Morgan Lakin, Lindsey Kanesta, Robin Lavergne, Larry Lien, Wynn Loiland, Greg Mashburn, Steve Matzen, Tim McDonough, Mark McGowan, Jeff Meek, Steve Meier, John Mello, Tim Mercurio, Stew Miller, Don Moore, Bob Morgan, Terry Olsen, Jack Petrinovich, Keith Pickett, Rick Rasmussen, Braxton Rauls, Bill Rice, Skip Rowland, Mike Schwab, Mike Shaw, Tom Shearer, Rick Shoenrock, Mick Stephens, Marty Stevens, Alan Stoops, Fred Strege, Bryan Sutherland, Mark Swofford, Tom Thompson, Pat Tobin, Hank Whitehead, Bill Whitton, and Mark Young.

1969 Colt League

 

Front row l. to r.: Larry Kennedy, Coach, Skip Rowland, Ed Zamira, Marty Stevens, Gary Peterson, and Al Burmester.                                                                          Back row l. to r.: Paul Kingsley, Rick Guild, Terry Margenson, Tom Cromie, John Fode, Hank Whitehead, and Warren Pietras.

 

There is no doubt that Wes Drake is a man to be remembered.  Not only because of his boisterousness and colorful appearance, but for his kindness, philanthropy and dedication to youth baseball. He and wife Dodie were among the best sponsors in youth athletics. They were cheerful, humble, and generous, and made extraordinary role models for their baseball family.

Dodie, who had been with Wes since high school, said that they always loved sports. Wes excelled in both football and basketball while attending Kapowsin High School. The Drakes attended many sporting events together, their favorites being football, basketball, and of course, baseball. So it made sense that when Wes opened the Super Mart, he chose youth athletics as his advertisement of choice.

Wes enlisted Al Burmester in 1967. He was a twenty-one year old with a love for baseball that volunteered to coach at the South End Boy’s Club in Tacoma. They shared the same vision in what they wanted to accomplish with their teams and together they established the Super Mart team, which would commence playing the summer of '68.

Wes's commanding air and confident attitude would have you think he owned a professional baseball team instead of being a youth baseball sponsor. He’d show up in his flashy, fast Cadillac, cigar extending from his lips, sporting white shoes and a red suit (which happened to be one of the team’s colors). For the boys, simply being in his company gave them a sense of worth because, as teammate Tim Mercurio stated, he was a "cool dude."

1969 Colt League Champions

Front row l. to r.: Bill Rice, Earl Conklin, Skip Rowland, Terry Olsen, Thom Ashiem, Jim Eckley, and Greg Mashburn.                                                                                        Back row l. to r.: Al Burmester, Jim Fode, Tom Cromie, Tom Dickson, Wayne Burki, Hank Whitehead, Les Bennett, Marc Guild, and Marty Stevens.

 

The Drakes went above and beyond the usual sponsorship. The team had a pitching machine – a rare thing in youth sports in those days. The boys didn’t have to pay for the many tournaments they traveled to, nor did they have to pay for their uniforms. And what uniforms they were!

The Super Mart boys were the best-dressed team on the field. This may seem superficial to some, but having stylish, new uniforms was important in many ways. As former opponent and eventual Super Mart player Gary "Rhino" Jones stated, "..they seemed special with their nice uniforms. They presented well and were intimidating." Being the best-dressed team on the field also instilled pride and confidence in the boys.

This team didn't just look good, they were talented as well, which Burmester attributes to practicing the fundamentals repeatedly. The Super Mart team won around 85% of their games and the Tacoma City League Championship for seven of nine seasons. Words that former players used to describe the team included top notch, winners, dynasty, excellence, and competitive. Super Mart was the team to play on.

1969 Tournament Team District & Sectional Champions-Regionals (3rd Place)

Front row l. to r.: Marty Stevens, Tom Thompson, Earl Conklin, Skip Rowland, Tim McDonough, Marc Guild, and Jim Eckley.                                                                   Back row l. to r.:Wes Drake, Jim Fode, Tom Cromie, Tom Dickson, Hank Whitehead, Wayne Burki, Larry Lien, and Al Burmester.                                                           Missing: Bill Rice

Player Jim Fode's widow, Karen, who was also his high school sweetheart, remembers that "One of the biggest things for the boys in the south end was to make Wes's Super Mart team.  It was like hitting the jackpot!  If you were selected to play on this team, it meant you were one of the best.  I truly think it was more important than making the high school team.  Jim was very proud to be on this prestigious team." Comprised mostly of the best baseballers from Baker and Gray junior highs and Mount Tahoma High School, they were exceptional players and a formidable opponent to all who crossed their path. Player Wynn Loiland said, "When you played for Super Mart, you knew you were playing for a quality team."

Wes expected the best and he got it because the boys respected him and their coaches and wanted nothing more than to make them proud. The Super Mart teams were first-rate, and Wes was genuinely excited to see them succeed.

Being on the Super Mart team was about more than just being an excellent player, you also needed to be a steadfast person, much of which they learned through playing ball. The boys learned commitment.

1970 Colt League Champions

Front row l. to r.: Earl Conklin, Jim Eckley, Tim Mercurio, unidentified, Ron Curley, Chris Christianson, unidentified, and Richard Jordan.                                              Back row l. to r.: Marc Guild, Robert Brynteson, Wayne Burki, Tom Dickson, Les Bennett, Jim Ehlers, Fred Strege, and Al Burmester.

 

When it was time for practice or the game, you were always there and you were always on time.  Even the parents were committed to the team, attending games and out-of-town tournaments in support. The boys learned work ethic.  They worked hard at practices to become the best team they could be. They were taught respect. Their coaches made sure they didn't get down on each other for making mistakes. They were taught to respect the umpires by holding their tongues when they disagreed with a call and to let their coaches handle it. They were also taught to respect their opponents. Mo Lakin stated, "We defeated many, but considered them equals. An attitude instilled in us by coach Al Burmester."Coach Al Murch remembers the players being, "...a group of well-behaved young men in the dugout and on the field at all times," and "...a quality group of young adults."

Hard work and commitment made these boys successful. Having fun made them friends. Rick Rasmussen recalls playing poker in what they called "the pit" (a sunken living room) at Wes and Dodie's home. The Drakes took the boys on fishing and camping trips. Mark Swofford and many other players say the Drakes treated them like family. Many of the players became lifelong friends. Hank Whitehead said "...that four years of our lives is a time none of us will forget." Marc Guild reminiscences that his time on the team was some of the most fun he's had in his life. These tight bonds the boys formed also helped create a great amount of trust and confidence in each other, which showed on the ball field.

1970 Connie Mack Team

Front row l. to r.: Tim McDonough, Marty Stevens, unidentified, Tom Cromie, unidentified, and Hank Whitehead.                                                                        Back row l. to r.: Al Murch, unidentified, Jim Fode, unidentified, unidentified, unidentified, Steve Griewe, and Larry Lien.

 

When asked who they felt were the best players on their team, most of the men interviewed didn't know how to answer. That mindset wasn't part of who they were when they played ball together. Greg Guild said it best, "I believe that we were a true team.  No one was singled out as 'best' or 'better,' as that wasn’t how we were coached." No player or position was more important than another according to Burmester. This demonstrates the true meaning of the word "team," and shows what inspirational leaders the coaches and Wes and Dodie Drake were to these boys.

Wes, Dodie and the coaches of the Super Mart team — brothers Al and Tom Burmester, Al Murch and Tom Dickson — had a tremendous impact on many of these boys who played ball for them. So much so that player Wayne Burki calls his time with the team, "a gift." Being chosen for the Super Mart team made the boys feel special and gave them a sense of honor. They felt thankful and lucky to have had the opportunity to play for the Drakes and the wonderful coaches. Structure and training that was provided them led to other opportunities and advantages. The many lessons learned they took with them into adulthood. Tim Mercurio says of Wes and his coaches, "...they made you realize that you could do anything you wanted to do. They made you realize the power of confidence at a young age."

1970 Tournament Team (District Colt Champions)

Front row l. to r.: Jim Ehlers, Jeff Carbone, Ron Curley, Jack Petrinovich, Chris Christianson, Richard Jordan, Earl Conklin, and Rick Shoenrock.                            Back row l. to r.: Al Burmester, Robin Lavergne, Gary Jones, Wayne Burki, Tom Dickson, Les Bennett, Jim Eckley, and Marc Guild.

 

The boys, when they grew to be men, gave back. They held dinners to recognize the couple who meant so much to them during their teen years. The Drakes were happy to see their boys all grown up and as Dodie noted, see them turn out to become such good men.

It's no wonder this sponsorship award will be bestowed upon Dodie, for her and in honor of her late husband, Wes. This kind-hearted, selfless and benevolent couple gave more than their money. When player Rick Guild thinks of the name Wes Drake, he thinks of passion, commitment and giving.  What Dodie and Wes gave these boys, now men, was a wonderful example to follow, a second family, lifelong friendships, and memories to last a lifetime. It is evident by their actions and generosity that they truly cared about not only the game of baseball, but the people inside the uniforms.
1971 Colt League

Front row l. to r.: Braxton Rawls, Buddy Horton, Mike Shaw, unidentified, Bob Haynes, Bobb Absten, and Steve Meier                                                                              Back row l. to r.: Ron Curley, Mike Dickson (dec.), Tim Mercurio, Jim Ehlers, Fred Strege, Morgan Lakin, Dennis Hatton, and Al Burmester.                                               Missing: Mike Berger and John Mello.

 
1971 Connie Mack League Champions (2nd Place-West Coast Regional)

Front row l. to r.: Wes Drake, Rich Jordan, Tom Dickson, Mike Schwab, Bill Hansen, Marc Guild, Marty Stevens, Tim McDonough, and Chris Christiansen                         Back row l. to r.: Al Murch, Hank Whitehead, Les Bennett, Rick Rasmussen, Steve Jones, Jim Fode, Larry Lien, Dennis Franklin, Jerry Cozad, and Tom Burmester.

 
1973 League Champions

Front row l. to r.: Tom Shearer, Bryan Sutherland, Mark Butts, Pat Tobin, Bob Barkley, Gus Carlson, Greg Cole, and Steve Schnieder.                                                              Back row l. to r.: Gus Carlson, Tom Dickson, Mark Swofford, Scott Bowman, Doug Cey, Steve Matzen, Greg Guild, Al Burmester, and Wes Drake.

 
1974 League Champions

Front row l. to r.: Jon Anderson, Tim Cole, Gus Carlson, Greg Cole, Lindsey Kanesta, Mark Swofford, and Rick Haavik.                                                                                   Back row l. to r.: Al Burmester, Doug Cey, Mark Young, Mike Bryant, Larry Girk, Gene Frazier, and Steve Matzen.

 
1974 Tournament Team

Front row l. to r.: Greg Firn, Mike Bryant, Doug Cey, Mark Young, Larry Girk, and Gus Carlson.                                                                                                            Middle row l. to r.: Al Burmester, Cliff Johnson, Rick Haavik, Mark Swofford, and Bill Whitton.                                                                                                              Back row l. to r.: Wes Drake, Gus Carlson, Greg Cole, Steve Matzen, Gene Frazier, Jon Anderson, Lindsey Kanesta, and Tom Dickson.

 
1974 Colt Regional Tournament Team

Front row l. to r.: Greg Firn, Mike Bryant, Doug Cey, unidentified, Larry Girk, Mark Swofford, Gus Carlson, and Bill Whitton.                                                                  Back row l. to r.: Wes Drake, Gus Carlson, Al Burmester, Rick Haavik, unidentified, Greg Cole, Lindsey Kanesta, Jon Anderson, Steve Matzen, Doc Johnson's son, and Gene Frazier.                                                                                                                Sitting in front: Randy Drake.

 
1975 League Champions

Front row l. to r.: Rick Haavik, Wynn Loiland, Jon Anderson, Keith Pickett, and Jeff Meek.                                                                                                                 Middle row l. to r.: Ralph Heard, Mike Bryant, Mark Young, and Larry Girk.              Back row l. to r.: Al Burmester, Rick Absten, Tony Gengl, Wayne Collins, Grant Asplund, and Tom Dickson.

 
1976 League Champions

Front row l. to r.: Rick Absten, Don Moore, Lew Estabrook, Stew Miller, Lane Hobbs, Bob Morgan, and Wayne Collins.                                                                                Back row l. to r.: Tom Dickson, Keith Pickett, Mike Hauser, Wynn Loiland, Jeff Meek, Grant Asplund, and Steve Schneider.

 
Letter to the Editor  
1976 Colt Tournament Team

Front row l. to r.: Keith Pickett, Lew Estabrook, Stew Miller, Mick Stephens, Bob Morgan, Lane Hobbs, Wayne Collins, Rick Absten and Grant Asplund.                    Back row l. to r.: Gus Carlson, Mike Hauser, Allan Stoops, Wynn Loiland, Jeff Meek, Mark McGowan, Ken Driscoll, Steve Schnieder and Tom Dickson.

 
Marc Guild on the mound for Wes'.
 
1974 Regional Tournament at Cheney Stadium  
 

 

Wes’s Super Mart Youth Baseball Dynasty          By Megan Bostic                                                    Preamble by Al Burmester

Wes with Orlando Pena of the St. Louis Cardinals

Back row l, to r.: Wes Drake, Al Burmester, and Tom Dickson. Front row l. to r.: Greg Guild, Bob Barkley, and Mark Butts.
 

Al Burmester and Wes Drake
Camping trip on the way home from Yakima in 1973.
 



Left to Right: Unknown, Mike Bryant, Jon Anderson, Mark Young,
Larry Girk,  and Al Burmester.
 

Imagine it's 1968, and a boy growing up in South Tacoma from a working class family is day-dreaming about playing baseball. Few quality, organized teams are available, especially because money is tight for so many families. It's a hopeless feeling shared by more than a few local boys.

Enter Wes Drake: A man who loved athletics and competition with a vision to form a baseball team. Not just any team, but one that would develop skills and create an opportunity for boys to become proud members of a high-caliber ball club.  In 1968, Drake formed the first Wes's Super Mart baseball team for 15 and 16 year-old boys that would be built on his generous spirit, commitment to excellence, and hard work. 

League, Area, and State Championships mounted as the boys from South Tacoma achieved unrivaled success. To be sure, stories of those glory days still warm the hearts of those junior athletes – now grown men.

In light of their accomplishments as sponsors and mentors for these young men, along with the triumphs of the teams, Wes and Dodie Drake are being honored by the Tacoma-Pierce County Baseball-Softball Old-Timers Association. It’s an honor richly deserved.

The common thread for all of Wes's Super Mart teams was the goal to perform as well or better than the previous team.  The 16 year-olds knew the rewards of hard work and the high expectations set by Wes Drake, and they encouraged the 15 year-olds to buy in.  This family atmosphere and desire for excellence inspired many award-winning performances by these young men.

Wes and his wife, Dodie, provided everything the boys would need to become confident, exceptional athletes and young men.  Equipment and uniforms were first class; pitching machines and batting cages were an integral part of the program.  Competition of the highest caliber was included in the 40-game schedule, which always included the much-anticipated father/son camping trip after playing the Yakima Beetles.  When the team qualified for the sectional tournament in Provo, Utah, Wes provided blue blazers with matching ties as travel attire.  The team looked sharp!  In addition, if the boys could not purchase expensive personal baseball gear (mitts and cleats), he provided work opportunities for them so they could afford all of their equipment. Dodie added her personal touch by individually painting ceramic baseball statues in the team colors with each boy’s number and name on the back as a remembrance of their time with the team.

The type of program Wes and Dodie provided the boys in South Tacoma was very unique.  The boys were part of a quality team with excellence and hard work their top priorities.  Each team was extremely successful, and these young men grew tremendously as teammates and individuals under the generous and outstanding leadership of Wes Drake.  I coached Wes’s team from 1968 to 1975, and I am honored that he chose me to help put the Wes’s Super Mart vision together. Dodie and her family will be here to see and feel the gratitude of their efforts.  My only wish is that Wes could be here, too. 

~ By Al Burmester