Aden To Be Enshrined in Centralia College Sports HOF

The Centralia College Sports Hall of Fame will enshrine their 114th and 115th members on Saturday when Nikki Westman and Barry Aden are inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Aden’s journey in baseball started at Liberty High School in Renton. He was recruited by Ken Wilson to come play for Centralia and was enrolled to play baseball by September of 1979.

It was his first time living away from home and he remembers his local hangout spots during his time.

“I think I had one of everything on Burgerville’s menu freshman year. There used to be this pancake place on the other side of town called the NorWester, we used to go in there and have pancakes,” Aden said. “35 cents a piece for pancakes. We lived at that place as far as food was concerned in Centralia.”

On the diamond, Aden was a stud and his team had quite a few top baseball prospects. In 1980, Aden was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth round, 188th overall.

“I’d been talked to by the scouts when I was in high school and I knew they were following me. To get picked, I guess I wasn’t surprised back in those days. You knew it was coming,” Aden said. “I actually got notified by a telegram that I’d been drafted in the eighth round by the Cardinals. We had, I want to say five other guys on my team that year that got drafted. The rule of thumb around Centralia was we were a loaded, strong baseball program and it was a great honor to be drafted.”

While going to school as a freshman and working on campus picking up cigarette butts in various containers outside of campus buildings, Aden would head to the gym and started shooting around and rebounding for the Blazer basketball team. He caught the eye of coach Bob Reimer.

“I started shooting around with the college team which Bob Peters was a freshman on and I’d rebound for the guys and I’d play some defense on those guys and Reimer would kind of integrate me into the basketball practice,” Aden said. “Well, we decided I’d be better off being a basketball manager. I was more useful as a practice dummy than I was as an ashtray cleaner and so Bob Reimer got somebody else and Ken Wilson agreed to get somebody else to do my job. I turned in my spatula and I became the manager for the basketball team as a freshman.”

In his sophomore year, Aden joined the team and although he was the 12th man on a 12-man team, he enjoyed his time on the court for the Blazers.

In his sophomore season on the baseball field, Aden continued to perform well and was drafted again, this time in the second round, 33rd overall, again by the Cardinals.

Although he wanted to sign his contract after his freshman year, he still didn’t sign a contract following his sophomore year.

“I wanted to sign after my freshman year and I especially wanted to sign after my sophomore pick, but my dad had other things in mind,” Aden said. “I was going to go to college for four years and I was going to be a chiropractor. Baseball was something we did as an activity but not as a profession.”

Aden moved on and attended Eastern Washington University after Centralia, earning an education degree in biology and he became a teacher at his former high school at age 23 and he became the head baseball coach at Liberty in 1985.

While always involved in baseball, he never got his professional opportunity until the Major League Baseball players strike occurred in 1994. In the spring of 1995, the MLB approved the use of replacement players, and Aden was called up to the big leagues and attended spring training for the Seattle Mariners.

“I took leave from my teaching job and went down to Arizona and I made the replacement team all the way up until the strike ended. I was a right handed pitcher wearing a Mariner uniform playing for Lou Piniella,” Aden said. “Then all of that came crashing down and the strike ended and the real big leaguers were called back into camp and we all went back to our normal lives.”

Aden appeared in 13 of 27 spring training games as a relief pitcher. While it wasn’t a long time playing for Piniella, he still learned from him and incorporates those lessons into his own coaching style.

“What people don’t know about him is that he’s a players manager. He really knew everything about each of us and he genuinely cared and I think that’s been a big part of my coaching career is how he coached me,” Aden said. “How he had 25 different relationships with the 25 players, not just one personality for the whole team. He really made a point of knowing about each guy and caring and that’s been my rule of thumb for my 30 years of managing college age players.”

Aden’s college coaching career began in 1990, coaching for four different teams, including the the Seattle Studs, Tacoma Timbers, Seattle Cruisers, and then back to the Seattle-Cheney Studs, which he’s been coaching since 2001.

Aden has been wrapped up in baseball and knows that will be his legacy.

“I’ve had four pretty good careers but if anyone was to say my name, I would be known as a baseball player/coach,” Aden said. “What I’m happy about is baseball will be what I’m remembered as versus what I did during the work day and I’m really happy with that.”

He has been back to Centralia a few times since his playing days and even took his son on a recruiting trip there last year. Aden attributes a lot of that to his time wearing a Blazer uniform.

“Those two years at Centralia, getting recognized and drafted in the eighth round and the second round elevated my credibility in the game to a level that really got me on the rollercoaster of high level of success and a high level of people viewing me as a baseball guy,” Aden said. “It was huge. You go from just playing at a little small high school and all of the sudden, Major League teams want you and they’re willing to use really low draft picks to possibly sign you. It was a huge contribution to my reputation as a credible baseball player and baseball guy.”

When he is enshrined on Saturday, he will be thinking about all the teammates and coaches that influenced him along the way.

“It’s just a super honor for my school to recognize me for what I accomplished after I left there and I really want to give Centralia College the credit for elevating my game and making me all of the sudden a guy who commanded respect on the baseball field and had a lot of people thinking highly of me and was established in my time there,” Aden said. “I appreciate my memories.”