Prep Baseball & Softball

Ex-Mt. Whitney, Woodlake coach Jim Barnett dies at 69

Jim Barnett, who won a Central Section baseball title in only his second season at Mt. Whitney High, eventually lost his job and teaching credential because of a drug-dealing conviction, only to earn the right to teach and coach again, has died of cancer. He was 69.

Mr. Barnett starred in football and baseball at Mt. Whitney and College of the Sequoias, where he was named “Giant of the Year” in 1965. He then advanced his baseball career at San Francisco State, where he set an NCAA stolen base record in 1966.

He returned to Mt. Whitney as baseball coach in 1978, when went 30-6 and won the West Yosemite League title, according to section historian Bob Barnett. He followed that with a 20-3 season and section title in 1979 before the program turned south in his final four seasons.

His personal life did, also, bottomed out by the drug conviction, which resulted in a 22-month prison sentence in the 1980s. But he followed protocol, earned back his credential 10 years following the conviction, restored the faith of the educational community in Tulare County and eventually coached again in various sports at Woodlake and, finally, as a softball assistant at COS.