Thursday, June 28, 2007


On Mac Malone

Ken Linville - Mack Malone was my mentor, my baseball coach, my teacher in many things. If only I could return to those days to let him know that the things he was trying to cram into my immature, know-it-all, teen-age brain were life’s lessons and that if I had heeded his wisdom then, I’d be a better man today. There I go again; too soon old, too late smart. I have written of him on our website back in some of the vignettes, I think.

My first contact with this great man was in the summer of 1952. I was playing ball for Val Kirk’s American Legion team in Burien. Remember Kirk’s Drug Store? I think it was on Ambaum Blvd up by the Burien Garden apartments where I lived for a short time while my dad was building the house on S.192nd St. just south of the airport. I was 14 years old playing with kids who were 17, a huge difference at that age. I wasn’t a starting pitcher but I played a lot as a reliever. I was so skinny I was only effective for 3 or 4 innings anyway. I was playing mostly with guys from the classes of ’53 and ’54, Bud Ennis, Joe Tomita, Claude Murdock, etc. Mac wasn’t a coach of the Legion team but he was there watching us, scouting upcoming talent. The next summer I played Babe Ruth League which was brand new in ‘53. It was called Little Bigger League for kids 13, 14, and 15. That’s the year I played with Owen Jackson, Bill Brown, Al Bahrenburg, Keith Davison, Don Keppler to name a few. Again, Mac was there watching us pull off a successful season. In ’54, as a sophomore, Mac brought me up to the varsity baseball team and, instead of giving him 110%, I began slacking off, not hustling, breaking the rules, smoking, drinking beer, thinking I really had it made now. What a naïve idiot I was. I had the best coach I’d ever had the privilege of playing under and I blew it all away. The sad thing is, I didn’t even know enough to care. I learned more about baseball from Don Malone than I ever even knew existed. I learned more important things from him, too, but I never realized how essential they were until years later.

Mr. Malone bought a 5 acre tract of wooded land in about ’53 or ’54 right about where S. 188th St. met with Ambaum Blvd south of Burien. It’s part of the airport now but I remember when I was riding my bike past there, and later on, driving by, if he wasn’t coaching or teaching, Mack would be out there cleaning the land off by hand and I’d stop to talk with him. I should have been picking up an axe or shovel and helping him for all I was worth for what I owed him. He built a warehouse there which he sold, and which later became part of the airport just as did my place over on S.192nd St. across from Angle Lake Grade School.

Mac married Carol, a very attractive young lady who worked in the office at Highline. She was a graduate of Highline's class of 1949. When they started dating, around 1952, they had to be very careful. Although she wasn’t a student, it wasn’t then considered proper to be dating another member of the staff. They had to pass secret notes between them to arrange their trysts and keep their relationship secret. None of us had a clue. Mac taught math, but his forte’ was coaching and I’ll never be able to go back and take advantage of what he was trying to offer me. I shall always regret it. There were two people at Highline who influenced my future the most, I think: Miss Dorothy Cope and the great Mr. Donald Malone.

Deanne Blakley Bellemans - Margie Black and I had algebra with him, must have been in our junior year. Mack could see Margie and I had no interest in math of any kind, so he came up with a math test, just using true and false questions. He reasoned we had a better change passing any test this way. We both passed! I wish I'd known he was still alive because I'm actually quite good at math. No, no one else had the true or false test, just Margie and me. He called us Judy and Irma, he enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed him! You're right, it doesn't sound like we were well served by that, I still don't get algebra! If a teacher had done that to one of my girls I'd had a fit!

OBIT - Donald Mack Malone - Born in Lincoln, Nebraska on Aug. 26, 1925, a long time resident of Burien, passed away June 22nd from the effects of Parkinson's. He graduated from high school in Harrisburg, Oregon and joined the Navy. After leaving the Navy and completing his education, Don taught math and coached baseball and basketball at Highline High School for 9 years prior to going into private business. He is survived by Carol, his loving wife of 55 years, as well as his children, Toni (Duane) Kiehle, sons, Bob and Kal, and grandchildren, Courtney, Katherine and Jennifer.

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