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July 13, 2012

Sundes enjoy father-son memories on the diamond, and beyond

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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A Dream Team recipient in 2012, Brett Sunde will continue his career at Western Michigan next spring.
For Buster Sunde, a third consecutive state title with Bishop Foley will have to come with a new catcher behind the plate.
 

MADSION HEIGTHS — For four years, Buster Sunde has watched his son, Brett, mature on the high school baseball diamond.

From a wide-eyed freshman starting his first game on the varsity to an MLB-drafted senior starting the 2012 high school All-Star Game at Comerica Park, Buster Sunde has had a front-row view.

And he did it all through the eyes of a demanding coach.

“You know, I was always in coach mode with him,” said Buster Sunde, the Madison Heights Bishop Foley skipper. “I guess, I wish I could have just watched as a dad more than I did, but Brett understood that. We’ve always had a great relationship on the field, and I was as hard on him as I was anyone from a coach’s perspective. But from a dad’s perspective, it’s awesome to look back and see how far he’s come as a player.”

“He’s been my coach my whole life, and I really wouldn’t want it any other way,” Brett said. “It’s hard at times, but he’s a guy I trust when it comes to the game of baseball. If I ever needed extra work or good advice or anything, I knew I could go to him.”

The Sundes capped their final year together as Ventures last month in Battle Creek, bringing Foley its second consecutive Division 3 state championship on the heels of a 38-3 season.

The family awards were hardly finished, however.

Brett, who’s headed to Western Michigan University next year to continue his career despite being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in June, was also recently named to the 2012 Dream Team.

Buster Sunde, meanwhile, was named the 2012 Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Coach of the Year.

Brett’s spot on the Dream Team — he was joined by fellow Foley grad Luke Ortel — hardly came as a surprise.

As a senior, he hit .500 with five home runs and a team-best 72 RBI.

Defensively, he was just as strong. In four years behind the plate, he allowed 12 stolen bases while throwing out 86 runners.

“This was a pretty great year.” Brett said. “I worked real hard for this, and it’s good to see that all pay off.”

Buster Sunde was humbled by his award, giving nearly all credit to the guys on his team.

“This is such an honor, but really, when you have the quality of kids that we do, it leads to things like this,” the coach said. “Last year, we were so loaded with talent. But this year, these guys had to redefine themselves. They had to go out and work so hard for everything they got. It’s awesome for me to get this, but I really, think these guys won it for me.”

The Sundes, who live in Royal Oak, will be in an interesting and somewhat unusual spot next spring, as Buster Sunde and the Ventures will go for a third straight state title with Brett some two hours away in Kalamazoo.

Both admitted the change will be hard, but both seemed to welcome the inevitable journey.

“It’s going to be very different,” Brett said with a laugh. “I think it’ll be a good change, though. He won’t be at (Western) games stressed out like a coach has to be. It’s something I think we’ll both find a way to enjoy.”

“It’s going to be very, very different,” Buster Sunde said. “There was a summer a few years ago I didn’t coach him, and it was something almost weird. But at the college level, it’s probably better for him to have that different voice. Having him exposed to something new is only going to help him move forward with his career. … I’m going to miss coaching him; there’s no doubt that. But I look forward to getting out there as a dad, cheering with my wife and being his biggest fan from the stands.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.