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Then: Santistevan began dynasty
By Andrew Aragon
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published June 26, 2006 1:50 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
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Back when Don Gust played high school baseball, there was no open enrollment, recruiting was unheard of, and equipment didn't cost as much as a mortgage.

Gust, a stud shortstop at Bingham in the years following World War II, was a player for the state's first baseball dynasty. He was one of Bailey's Boys.

Bailey Santistevan was the pioneer of the state's most successful program. He built a winning tradition at Bingham High that lives on today. The Miners have won 19 state championships, nine more than that of their closest competitors [Taylorsville], and third-most in the nation. Bingham has also won 27 region titles.

Gust, a scout for the Cincinnati Reds, has fond memories of how the Miners' program was built on the strength of a one-street town known as Bingham Canyon.

Back then, players grew up playing in the Eskimo Pie League. Prospective Bingham players would have eight games going on simultaneously on the Miners' old field and they officiated their own games. Santistevan would settle any disputes, whether he saw the plays or not.

It was then that players learned that losing at Bingham was unacceptable.

"He would tell us, 'The winners walk on Main Street, the losers walk in the alleys,' '' Gust said. "We knew that we damn well better win. If we didn't, we had to answer to everyone in town."

Santistevan was a coach no player wanted to answer to. He was a firm disciplinarian, who was willing to give up chances at state titles if it meant removing the best players from his team for rules infractions.

Bingham won its first state baseball title under Santistevan's guidance in 1932. While there were only a handful of programs and two classifications back then, the Miners were mostly in a class of their own. They won eight baseball championships, four American Legion championships and four state football titles under Santistevan.

Santistevan died at the age of 53 from what's believed to be complications from diabetes. Taking care of his health wasn't always his top priority, and his players had to help him out sometimes.

"He'd go into these doggone diabetic comas all the time," said Gust, who had to supply remedies such as a fetching a sugar-filled pitcher of orange juice from his nearby home when the coach began to get weak. As a senior captain, Gust also had the responsibility of injecting Santistevan with glucose on long bus rides.

State tournaments had a different format in Santistevan's era. Just three rounds of postseason play were held, and it took three weeks to complete them.

In Gust's final game, against South Sevier in the 1950 Class B championship game, Santistevan used some of what Gust called his master psychology on him. As he was headed to the plate with his team down by two runs, Santistevan told Gust he was thinking about pinch-hitting for him because he didn't think he wanted to hit in that situation. After a brief argument, Gust stepped to the plate.

"That's the way he was," Gust said. "He would make me so mad sometimes."

Gust then tripled and ignited an offensive explosion that didn't stop until the Miners prevailed, 18-5.

Gust's baseball skills were passed on through his family. His grandson, Easton, was a first-team all-state outfielder at Cottonwood this season.

The Miners have continued to be one of the state's most consistent and classiest programs. Bingham last won a state title in 2003 after a stunning rally from a nine-run deficit against Taylorsville in the championship game. The Miners have taken fourth, third and fourth in Class 5-A in the three years since their last championship.

Bailey's Boys, featured in a 1999 Sports Illustrated article, and distributed to Bingham's baseball players as part of a preseason packet that includes motivational ploys and hitting tips, will never be a forgotten portion of the Miners' history.

"We bring up the tradition and the people who played here before them," said Joey Sato, just the ninth baseball coach in Bingham's history. "We talk about the legacy they'll leave and how they'll want people to remember them by. We try and use our tradition to our advantage."



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