ATWATER -- Rollo Adams loves to joke that he once cost Bob Montano his position as the Los Banos baseball coach.
"I told him I'd help him out for four years," said Adams, the Atwater Aviators and Merced Volunteers skipper. "We made it to one. Whenever we need a laugh I'll pull that one out."
Well, years later, Adams is paying his old friend and former coach back.
Montano will join Adams' staff this summer as the Aviators new outfield coach. A longtime Merced County baseball coach and community fixture, Montano, 63, will also help run the Aviators while Adams is traveling with the Volunteers.
General manager and owner Richard Ruiz made the announcement on Monday evening -- one day after meeting with Montano and Adams.
"I've said it before, our coaching staff is the strongest part of our organization," Ruiz said. "With the high player turnover rate each year, my goal was to have some part of the organization rooted in the community.
"I believe with the coaching staff we've put together we have done that. The amount of experience this staff has will rival just about any team out there."
Montano joins a staff that already includes hitting coach Glenn Nobbe and pitching coach Justin Parle.
"I grew up around the block from him on the southside," Adams said of Montano. "I know his family. I feel that he's well-respected in the community. A lot of people know the name and the family.
"He's got a quiet confidence about him and I think the players will enjoy having him around."
Montano coached 19 years at the high school level, four at the semi-pro level and won three Mexican-American league championships. Adams was a player on one of his Mexican-American teams.
"I feel that my knowledge and expertise in baseball give me the ability to work with fine young men," Montano said in an e-mail to the Sun-Star. "The importance of professionalism and good sportsmanship is an important element of my coaching in order to reach the next level. My expectations is to see players reach their goals in what ever capacity."
The Aviators are entering their second season as a collegiate wooden bat league based at Atwater's Memorial Ballpark and are the defending Pacific West Baseball League champions.
The roster is currently comprised of 20 players from California, Nevada, New York, Michigan, Delaware and Japan. Ruiz said the club may add another 10 players.
The Aviators will open the season on June 4 with a home game against the Volunteers, Rollo's Legion baseball team.
James Burns is managing editor/sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.