Most who came across Lenny Vagt during his time in the Yuba-Sutter community would call him an old-school traditionalist when it comes to the game of baseball.
His passion for the game also gave him quite the temper from time to time as the manager of the NorCal Longhorns, according to Tom Lininger, managing partner of the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox.
There was about a six- or seven-year stint when Vagt and the Longhorns would visit what is now known as Colusa Casino Stadium for a four-game series.
Lininger said Vagt would almost always either get thrown out or get into a confrontation with an umpire during at least one of the games.
“He was a fiery guy and he always thought he was getting hometowned,” Lininger said. “He lived and breathed baseball.”
Vagt died a few months back while living in his home in Texas at the age of 68.
Lininger said Vagt brought Texas with him to Northern California. The NorCal Longhorns, based out of San Mateo, were dressed and named after Vagt’s alma mater, the University of Texas.
“They wore the same uniforms,” Lininger said.
One of his early stints in baseball was as an assistant at College of San Mateo where he met former Yuba College head coach Ryan Evangelho, who was a player at the time.
“That’s where our relationship began,” Evangelho said.
Vagt later moved to the Yuba-Sutter area and became a volunteer assistant coach with Evangelho and Yuba College for six seasons before retiring at the end of the 2018 season.
Evangelho said he was a blast to be around. Many of Evangelho’s players said Vagt had the best stories about old-school baseball life.
Evangelho said Vagt coached Dodgers star Joc Pederson, who won a World Series this past season, and Pederson’s brother while coaching for the NorCal Longhorns.
Vagt also coached major leaguer David Stefan “Bud” Norris, who played for Houston, Baltimore, San Diego, Atlanta, the Dodgers, the Angels and St. Louis during his stint as a Major League Baseball pitcher.
One of Vagt’s most notable traits during his time at Yuba College was how he related to everyone in the dugout.
“His mind was always super sharp when it came to baseball,” Evangelho said.
Vagt also helped start Yuba College baseball’s annual fundraising tradition of a golf tournament at Peach Tree Golf and Country Club, which is continuing this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was always awesome to hear his stories about keeping the old-school tradition alive,” Evangelho said.
Vagt was also a scorekeeper for Yuba College’s home and away games up until he retired.
“He wanted to be around the game and pass around the knowledge he learned through 40-plus years of coaching,” said Yuba College head baseball coach Jason Hampton. “He helped keep guys accountable and knew the ins and outs of the game.”
Hampton said during a 40-game season Vagt probably scored 25 to 30 games from the dugout while wearing his authentic Yuba College uniform.
He taught some of the players how to score a game and would also come to practice occasionally despite his limitations caused by numerous health problems, Hampton said.
The value of having someone like Vagt for a number of seasons cannot be measured and taken for granted.
“(He helped) the program in any way possible,” Hampton said.