After 11 seasons as pitching coach/recruiting coordinator for the Bellingham Bells, Jim Clem will step down from his role for the 2022 season. Clem is leaving the Bells to spend more time with family.
“It has been such a terrific ride, and I’ll definitely miss it, as I have thoroughly enjoyed being a Bell,” Clem said. “The time is right for me to step back, not saying I’ll stay out of the game long term, but for now I’m looking forward to just being present with my family.”
“We are obviously very sad to see Coach Clem leave the Bells,” Bells general manager Stephanie Morrell said. “But he will forever be part of our Bells family, and we will always be grateful for the years he has given us, the expertise he has shared, the mentoring he has provided young athletes and all of the work he has done to help shape the Bells into who we are today.”
Clem joined the Bells in 2011 as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator on Coach Gary Hatch’s staff. Throughout the years, Coach Clem was a constant force for the Bells, remaining in place for eleven seasons and working with six head coaches during that time. Clem’s pitching staffs were consistently among the league’s best, with numerous pitchers over the years being named to all-league teams and two (Seth Martinez – 2014, Eric Chavarria – 2021) being named WCL Pitcher of the Year.
Two pitchers whom Clem worked with for multiple seasons, Michael Rucker (Chicago Cubs) and Spencer Howard (Texas Rangers), are now part of Major League Baseball pitching staffs.
Clem also served as the primary architect for the team’s rosters, working closely with the Bells head coach and front office/ownership to assemble players each season. He engineered one championship team, and many others that contended for titles, with six post-season appearances.
“We will all miss Jim in the dugout and in the clubhouse next summer,” Bells head coach Adam Geaslen said. “Jim is a gifted communicator who always gets the most out of his pitching staffs. He is a passionate baseball man who truly cares about his athletes both on and off the field. Personally, I will miss talking the game with him each day and am forever grateful for the opportunity to learn and to have coached with such an incredible man.”
Beyond his work with the Bells, Clem has long been known as a legendary coach throughout the area and has had success at various levels of the game. He has been named to multiple hall-of-fames, including the WIAA Coaches Hall of Fame, the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“It is hard to put into words what Coach Clem has meant to our organization, and the players who have been part of it over the years,” Morrell said. “He’s a legendary coach, but an even better person. He’s left every person he’s encountered over the years better in so many ways. We wish him only the best as he steps away to take some time with family.”
“I wish all my baseball friends could work for an organization like the Bells, who simply do things the right way,” Clem said. “Being a part of something bigger than yourself, building lifelong relationships, teaching the intricacies of the game, providing opportunities, and competing the right way, these are the things that I will miss most and the things that make the Bells a special organization. A sincere “thank you” to Eddie Poplawski and Glenn Kirkpatrick, Nick Caples and Stephanie Morrell, all the coaches, players, trainers, support staff, host families, fans, and my own family and friends. Thank you for all your support, I’ll always appreciate it. Go Bells!”