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Grady Tweit enters final season at the helm of Black Bears

Grady Tweit enters final season at the helm of Black Bears

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Cowlitz Black Bears manager Grady Tweit has dragged his wife, Alicia, around as he pursued his baseball coaching career, one that brought him to Cowlitz County years ago under Kelly Smith. Now, it’s Tweit’s turn to follow his wife.

She recently received an opportunity to take a directorial position at PeaceHealth in Bellingham, and so the 2020 Black Bears season, will be Tweit’s last one.

“It’s an exciting time for our family,” Tweit said. “My wife has followed me around as long as I’ve been involved in this game, and she has the opportunity to do that. It’s my turn to return the favor and follow her north, now, for her career.”

Tweit is the second-longest tenured manager in the West Coast League, leading the Black Bears since 2015. He also coached at Lower Columbia College and skippered local Senior American League squads that called David Story Field home.

In fact, when Tony Bonnaci first came to Longview/Kelso to explore the possibility of bringing the WCL here, Tweit was one of the first people he met on a freezing cold day in a hitting barn in center field. They became fast friends.

“He has meant a lot to the baseball community, and we’ve enjoyed every minute of his time with us as a coach,” Bonnaci said. “Prior to Grady becoming a coach, his association and his relationship with the organization preceded his time as a coach. He was always a resource and a friend of both mine personally and the organization’s.”

By leading the Black Bears for what will be six years at the conclusion of this season, it brought a level of stability rarely seen in the league.

It’s built on change and flux and uncertainty.

Tweit, though, has been a rock for the Black Bears. His connections to local baseball also lend some credence and legitimacy. Tweit’s father played college ball with Kelly Smith, the legendary LCC coach who guided the Red Devils into their spot as one of the best two-year baseball programs in the country. Tweit played under Smith and coached under him for a time, after he led his alma mater, Sehome in Bellingham.

After his playing career, he went to York College in Nebraska where he played basketball and met Alicia.

Baseball, and to a smaller degree basketball, has been a part of Tweit’s life as long as he can remember, but that’s uncertain now.

He said he first must focus on being a dad as Alicia begins her new job, and he can’t worry about finding another coaching job at the moment. He’s taking it day by day, or, rather, pitch by pitch.

“We’re still in the transition process,” Tweit said. “Right now it’s just about getting my family up to Bellingham, and getting them established and getting them comfortable. The kids, they’re transferring schools. They actually begin on Monday. Alicia also starts her job on Monday.

“That’s been the biggest focus: getting them ready, getting stuff up there. And then from there we’re gonna figure out my next move and moving forward with it, as well,” Tweit said.

“I got some feelers out up there right now, just kinda feeling it out, feeling out the baseball thing. Maybe it’s not, because it goes back to what I’ve always said: She’s followed me around for so long, she’s earned this great opportunity,” he said.

“You know what? I have to do what’s best for the family. Maybe it’s not baseball, but I sure hope it is,” he said.

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