Rick Parcher has been an ambassador and teacher of baseball for 50 years.

Rick Parcher has been an ambassador and teacher of baseball for 50 years.

He not only instructs his players on the finer points of the game, but provides "life lessons" by reading poems and stories to help emphasize his points.

"There are so many life lessons in baseball," said the 71-year-old Parcher, who coaches Tree of Life Christian School in the spring and the North Columbus Comets in the summer. "A lot of (the lessons) you learn the hard way learning to deal with victory and defeat, success and failure. You learn how to make your own needs secondary to those of the team.

"Those things all come automatically with athletics, but I believe life lessons that are learned are learned more carefully, definitely and effectively if the process is guided by the coach, so I do a lot of talking."

Parcher, who has coached at Tree of Life since 1995, winning four MOCAL championships, helped form the Comets in 1962 during his senior year at the University of Wisconsin.

The team's first home field was at Whetstone Park.

The Under-14 travel team now is a member of the Central Ohio Youth Baseball League.

Parcher was recognized for his contributions to the sport during the North Columbus Sports Firecracker Tournament on July 4 at Ridgeview Middle School, which has been the Comets' home since 1975. Parcher received a plaque for his years of service and a field at Ridgeview was named in his honor.

The Comets then honored their coach by winning the U-14 division title.

"I've told the guys they probably won't realize how fortunate they are until they're older and maybe some of them play in college," Comets assistant coach Rick Sibert said.

"They're learning things now that guys typically don't learn until they get to play college ball. From a baseball perspective, they're so fortunate to learn these things and how to play the game the right way."

Parcher has fond memories of teams and players throughout the years.

The Comets finished 38-6 in 1968, 31-0 in 1972 and 41-3 in 1981.

The team has played on the state, regional and national level, competing in national tournaments in Atlanta, Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn., and Manhattan, Kan.

The team won three sportsmanship awards in four years at the Knoxville event.

"A lot of that has been a lot of fun, but you can't do that every year," Parcher said of competing on the national level. "You have to have both the talent and the interest."

Parcher has coached several players who have enjoyed successful careers in baseball, including Mike Durant, who played in the program in the early 1980s. Durant, a catcher, played at Watterson and Ohio State before playing with the Minnesota Twins in 1996.

Parcher recalled that Jeff Smith, who retired as the baseball coach at Centennial in 2006, won the Comets' first sportsmanship award in 1962.

Parcher continues to recognize the team's top sportsman each year.

"I've coached hundreds of kids," Parcher said. "The team is a team of talented kids and almost all of them go on to significant careers in high school and college, a few in the pros.

"As a result of that there have been a lot of memories and a lot of those guys are still around and I get to see them from time to time. That's great. I really enjoy that."

Tree of Life athletics director Yohana Hill credits Parcher for building the school's baseball program.

"Everyone loves coach Parcher," she said. "It is amazing. I can go into any baseball environment in Columbus and someone there will know 'Parch.'

"He has coached fathers, sons and grandsons. He is a talented and knowledgeable baseball coach and has been for decades, but he is an even better individual.

"I believe that many would say that baseball is his passion, but even though I know he loves the game immensely, I think mentoring and disciplining young men is truly his passion."

It appears Parcher has no intentions of stepping away from the game.

"I'm still enjoying myself," he said. "There are some various things that will determine whether I decide to come back. One is whether I feel like the group coming up still wants me to be involved.

"The other would be my health. I'm in reasonably good health. I have a lot of pain in my joints, so I'm doing a lot of sitting down now," he said.

"Every year is gravy from now on. Anything I get after this point is certainly a blessing. I've had a great ride. I really have enjoyed it. All of it has been joyful, even the parts that were difficult."