Bernie Church does not want to waste anyone's time.
He's tempted to tell people at McClatchy High School's baseball field today to go home and work on the yard.
Church will be the man of the hour when the field into which he poured his life for most of two decades is dedicated in his honor.
The 11 a.m. ceremony will include his nine siblings; 94-year-old mother, Mary (his father, James, died in 2006 at 99); wife, Jody; scores of alumni; and former McClatchy coaching friends such as Mike Nishio, Harvey Tahara and Bob Sandoval.
Dion James, a 1980 first-round pick out of McClatchy who played 11 major league seasons, also will be there. So will James' son, Jared, a senior on the Lions.
"I'm very humbled, that's for sure," Church said this week. "I don't want people to know about this dedication. Just sneak in and get it done. I was just a coach."
He was much more than that, his former players say. Church cast quite an image as McClatchy's baseball coach from 1973 to 1988 and physical education chairman until his retirement in 2004. Mike De Necochea, McClatchy's current baseball coach, played for Church in the 1980s and said his mentor was "larger than life."
McClatchy athletic administrator Rob Feickert said the field dedication "just makes sense. Bernie was all about life lessons. He'll be roasted, and we'll see if he cries."
Church couldn't begin to tell you how many league championships or playoff teams he coached. His teams were competitive, and they won their share, the old coach says.
Delivering larger messages to teenagers is what mattered to Church. Be accountable. Represent your school positively. Become better men than baseball players.
"I don't look back and think about players who signed (pro contracts and scholarships) or who played in college," Church said. "My philosophy was, did baseball help our players become better sons, brothers, husbands, fathers? If so, they were successful.
"Over the years, I got calls from a lot of them to be in their wedding, come to a reunion party, go golfing, and I'm so happy for them."
Church coached in the golden era of the Metro League, when Sacramento City Unified School District athletic programs were not on life support, as many are now. In baseball, Church went up against coaches such as Guy Anderson (Cordova), Don Naninni and Don Moak (Kennedy), Don Graf (Sacramento), Mike Inchausti (Burbank) and Ron Limeberger (Christian Brothers).
The Metro fielded the area's best players, top teams and most colorful coaches. In the 1980s, Church endured the dynamic teams of Cordova and CBS and Sac High's speedy baserunner Kevin Johnson, now the city's mayor.
Church winces at how athletic programs at city schools are struggling, including dilapidated fields filled with gopher holes and weeds. Johnson High's baseball program folded this season because of a shortage of players.
Church shares the same concern as other coaches active and retired that budget cutbacks threaten to wipe out high school sports.
"I really hope athletics don't get cut," Church said. "So many inner-city kids have only one parent at home. They need role models. They need something positive. It's a really sad situation. Coaches have been trying to Band-Aid things for years. The general population doesn't know how tough it is on these coaches."
Church's day won't end after the field dedication. He also will be recognized at the La Salle Club Hall of Fame tonight at CBS. He was a member of the 1962 Bishop Armstrong (later Christian Brothers) baseball team that went 22-2, losing only to Lodi and Stanford's freshman team, and landed a record six players on The Bee's All-City team under coach Dick Sperbeck.
"Baseball, teaching and coaching," Church said, "gave me a lot of great memories."