Pictured L-R: Pam & Dan Henley
By Brian Reed-Baiotto, Sports Editor
When Dan Henley walked off the Glendora High School baseball field for the final time nearly two months ago, he took 481 career victories and a 2010 CIF-SS Division 2 championship with him.
Henley’s 30-year career included an eight-year stint at Mountain View and he spent the last 22 at GHS.
It was clear early on that baseball would play a huge role in Dan’s life.
His father, Gail Henley, had a storied career of his own.
After playing football at Modesto JC, Gail Henley did his part in helping USC claim their first college world series title in 1948.
USC picked up the two-game sweep of Yale.
The opposing first baseman happened to be a guy named George Herbert Walker Bush, who would go on to become the 41st President of the United States.
Gail got drafted by the NY Giants and had a 13-year professional baseball career.
Mr. Henley, now 93, was a scout until the age of 80.
Dan would follow in his father’s footsteps by playing for one of the greatest college baseball coaches of all time, USC’s Rod Dedeaux.
He was drafted in 1985 by the NY Mets.
After his playing days were over, Henley’s coaching career began in 1991 at Mountain View High School in El Monte.
Henley said he has many people to thank for his coaching career, including Vic Bernal at Mountain View and Mike LeDuc at GHS.
Their trust in his abilities as a leader is something that continues to mean the world to Henley.
Before he could even entertain the idea, let alone embark on a successful run as a baseball coach, Henley would need the unconditional love and support from his wife.
And he got that and more from Pam Henley.
Pam and Dan met back in 1979 at Arcadia High School.
It was during their sophomore year.
They fell in love and have been together ever since.
Dan played basketball and baseball and was the senior class president in 1982.
You had to know their marriage would work, considering they somehow got through the fact that Dan was a USC Trojan, while Pam got her education at UCLA.
They would get married on November 14, 1987.
Pam and Dan have two sons and a granddaughter.
Ryan Henley is 30 and has a wife named Breanna.
Kevin, 27, and his wife, Michelle, made Dan and Pam grandparents for the first time.
Briar Henley is three years old.
Ryan played baseball at Bonita High School, while Kevin was a golfer for the Bearcats.
Both Henley boys would earn their college degrees from APU.
One of the thrills of Dan’s life was being asked to officiate the weddings of both sons.
And as he said numerous times, none of the success or happiness would have been attainable without a remarkable and selfless wife.
“Pam is a caring and amazing person,” Dan said. “She has taught me so much in life, and she always pushes me and our boys to be a better person tomorrow than we were today. She also helped me learn how to become a more patient person and that has helped in every phase of my life. When we met, she knew at the age of 15 that she wanted to be a teacher, and that really impressed me. She has always had a passion for helping young people improve their lives. During baseball season, and on top of everything else, Pam had the responsibility of making sure Ryan and Kevin were doing well and that their needs were being met. I couldn’t have had the career or life that I’ve had without the sacrifice and love of Pam.”
Pam Henley had a 35-year career in public education, the last 25 of which were spent teaching at Sandburg Middle School in Glendora.
It was Pam and Dan’s shared strength of character and an unrelenting work ethic that helped Henley get through the past 30 years as a varsity baseball coach.
Dan’s career record of 481-232-3 at Mountain View and Glendora speaks for itself.
He also won 11 league titles.
And on June 5 of 2010, Glendora’s 10-3 victory over Yucaipa in the CIF-SS Division 2 title game secured GHS its first baseball championship in school history.
But the path to becoming a CIF champion had plenty of bumps along the way.
One of the few downsides of being a sports writer is seeing firsthand just how ugly parents can get if they don’t like a coach or their child doesn’t get the playing time that mommy and daddy expected.
Dan went through a stretch where someone put fliers on cars at GHS baseball games to document all of Henley’s failings as they saw it.
He even had his tires slashed.
Just like all coaches, especially those who serve for decades, Dan Henley wasn’t always popular.
His intense, hard-ass style wasn’t for everyone.
But make no mistake about it, Dan Henley has always had a tireless work ethic, and a dedication and conviction in helping his students and athletes take their education and game to the next level.
He wasn’t just preparing the kids to win a baseball game against Damien or Bonita.
Henley’s focus was to get them ready for life and to continually push his players to be the best people, and eventually, the best husbands and fathers they could be.
Thankfully, the administration at Glendora believed in Henley from day one and he paid back that loyalty and trust by making GHS a perennial contender, and in 2010, a champion.
One of the many rewarding experiences for Henley has been seeing Adam Plutko pitch for the Orioles and watching DJ Peters with a bat in his hand for the Dodgers.
What makes Henley different than many in his field, however, is that Plutko and Peters didn’t get preferential treatment just because they were stars.
To Dan Henley, everyone wearing a GHS uniform mattered equally.
Aside from the support of his wife, Henley was also blessed with great friends and coaches.
He especially wanted to thank Ray Bundy, Thom Cruz, Pat Hart, Tyler Greene, Kyle Johnson, Frank Amaya, Brent Cashion, Bob LaPeer and Don Glaze for their dedication to the boys and the program.
On a personal note, and having written for 22 years now, I have many coaches that I consider good friends.
Having said that, many in the coaching profession turn their phones off after tough losses, which is frustrating, because we have a job to do whether they win or lose.
But no coach has sent me more quotes praising the performances of a victorious opponent than Dan Henley, and I’ll always appreciate him for that.
Henley said he is very content in the decision to leave when he did, and at age 58, he now has tons of time to travel with Pam and do the things they’ve always wanted to do.
Lastly, we asked Henley to address that of his legacy and what he’d want his players and their parents to know.
Said Dan Henley: “I hope I’m remembered as a guy who worked tirelessly as a coach and a teacher, and did so with the purpose of helping young men and women prepare for life. I loved playing a role in their lives and I’ll always look back at my time at Mountain View and Glendora with fond memories. I also want to thank each coach who helped along the way, because they all contributed so much to the kids and “our program.”
Below are quotes from area coaches and then further down, video interviews with Henley, his son, GHS assistant coaches and their players.
Dan’s wife, Pam Henley: “I was grateful that Dan chose to teach and coach, because after his professional baseball career, he could’ve become a scout or minor-league coach, and he wouldn’t have been around much. Our kids grew up with a fun-loving dad always present in their lives. I was fortunate enough to have grandparents close by that could help when games overlapped. He is a man of integrity–considerate, responsible, wise, faithful, patient, dependable and fun. Anyone who can put up with me for 42 years is a saint.”
Former GHS/UCLA & current Baltimore pitcher, Adam Plutko: ““Coach Henley taught me so much both on and off the field that I can’t really put into words what he means to me. Currently sitting in the dugout of a major league stadium, and I know none of it would have been possible with out him helping me. From toughness to baseball smarts, he had an impact on that and more.”
Former GHS baseball coaching legend, Clint Harwick: “Dan is a first-class coach and more importantly, a first-class man. All of my grandkids played for him at Glendora and each of them enjoyed their experience and learned so much about baseball and life from Dan. He had in incredible career, because he worked so hard and did things the right way. I wish nothing but the best to Dan, Pam and their entire family.”
Glendora basketball coach, Gordon Hamlow: “Dan is the embodiment of class. His accomplishments on the field are noted, but it’s his mentorship of his players that truly stands out.”
San Dimas baseball coach, Mike Regan: “Coach Henley is a class act. He is a great coach and an even better human being. He will certainly be missed and has done a ton for Glendora and the baseball community.”
Bonita baseball coach, Ryan Marcos: “I first met Dan 15 years ago while coaching against him in a high school baseball game, and ever since then, I’ve looked forward to our conversations about life and baseball. He’s a good dude. It’s not easy to carry a winning tradition for many years but that’s exactly what he did and he’s well respected throughout SoCal, one of the all-time great coaches and I’m thankful to have shared the field with him. All the best to Coach Henley in his new chapter.”
Arcadia baseball coach, Nick Lemas: “Dan has always been someone I looked up to. As an Apache alum, Dan’s name is on our CIF wall of fame and in our record books. I’ve heard a lot of stories of how good of a ball player he was. Back when we had our spring break tournament, Glendora was a regular participant, and in those years, they were dominant. I know we lost to them a few times in the championship game, but always loved competing against them. He was always a pleasure to talk baseball to. The Apaches wish him nothing but health and happiness in whatever his next adventure is.”
Former Damien baseball coach, Andy Nieto: “The San Gabriel Valley will miss Glendora baseball with Dan Henley as their head coach. Dan Henley is one the best baseball coaches I’ve been around his team’s were always well coached and played hard. And most importantly, he was a great teacher and mentor to his players.”
Former Glendora principal, Greg Plutko: “As a father, Dan was the high school coach I always hoped my son would connect with someday. Even to this day, Adam is quick to include Coach Henley in his thoughts with both personal and professional experiences. Coach has that ability to form bonds with his players through work ethic, toughness, and development. I was able to see first-hand the number of athletes he impacted, and years later how they still seek his counsel, friendship, and unconditional support. My son, family, and the Glendora community were blessed to have one of the great ones.”
Former Bonita/current Mt. SAC coach, John Knott: “When I think of Dan Henley, the first thing that comes to mind is what a great dad and person he is. He and his wife Pam were at many of our Bonita games supporting their son Ryan each step of the way. Dan is someone I went to when I started coaching and is such a positive role model/mentor, and has personally impacted my life. He will be missed by the baseball community and ran a great program year in and year out.”
Two-time CIF champion & South Hill coach, Darren Murphy: “Dan was one of the pillars of the SGV baseball coaching community. He was successful at two different programs and his teams were always prepared and ready to play in big games. You weren’t going to outcoach Dan on game day, so it came down to who was prepared coming in and his teams won a lot of ballgames over the years.”
Glendora football coach, Brandon Rohrer: “It has been an honor to be able to work with Coach Henley. He has made an impact in so many lives, not just to the Plutkos and Peters, but to all his students as well. I admire his leadership and dedication to the game.”
Former GHS/current Fountain Valley principal, Paul Lopez: “Dan worked so hard as a coach and a teacher. He built connections with kids that turned into lifelong relationships. He was a master of taking care of his facility and was great about sharing it with the other sports. He handled the rough spots like a professional. The two things I always look at with leaders are their impact and influence and Dan had both with his players. Dan’s legacy is the fact that he endured for so many years as head coach. In this day and age, so many people bow out early because of the pressure. Dan handled the good and the bad times very well. Of course there were far more good times. Dan set the bar high and he will never be forgotten as a legendary coach and teacher at GHS.”
Rancho Cucamonga coach, Tony Garcia: “Coach Henley was the type of coach that as an opposing coach, you observe and learn from his work. You compete against him while you are learning from him. I knew what we were against both times we faced him. His squad was disciplined, scrappy, talented and played their heart out for their coach. There are two coaches that I learned a lot from by watching them at their craft. Dan Henley and Damien coach, Andy Nieto. They are role models for coaches like myself that always look to grow each day. On a personal note with coach Henley, on our first meeting, when I met him before the game I asked him, “coach, are you throwing a righty or a lefty? He said a lefty, why? My reply was, because I have a lineup typed out in case we face a righty and a different lineup typed out in case we see a lefty. He smiled and as I handed him my versus a lefty lineup, he said, “I do that too, that’s great” That was my first impression of him, and I felt like it validated my multi-lineup approach. So I started to study him as he worked the magic in his craft all while I trying to win the ball game. It worked in our second matchup.”
Longtime SGV area umpire, Brad Claude: “His kids were always ready to play. They never took games off. They might not have won every time, but they were ready to play and never gave up until the final out. When you worked a game at GHS, it was like working a college game, because the kids were in a locker room that Dan built and they carried themselves in a professional manner. He was never afraid to tell me when he thought I missed a call and there were times he was right. I didn’t have a problem admitting that I might have missed a pitch or a call. But Dan never held on to it and moved on like successful coaches do. I am going to miss umping his games, but I know Jerry Lewallen will conduct himself in a respectful manner as well. I wish Dan and his family all the best.”
To view a photo of Henley through the years, please click on the Facebook link here: (5) Facebook
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