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Dan Hooley: Where are they now?

Dan Hooley reflects back on Corbett's 1983 state baseball championship run

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Dan Hooley holds the 1983 article from the Gresham Outlook detailing Corbett High Schools state championship win in 13 innings over As you walk into the Corbett High gymnasium and stare across to the opposite side of the barn-shaped building, your eyes catch a banner hanging above the set of double doors leading to the visitors’ locker rooms. The first thing that strikes you is the long list of numbers running left to right. At first you think it might be a baseball line score, but you second-guess yourself when you realize there are far too many numbers.

Desperate for clarification, you shift your gaze upwards and see that your first instinct was correct. The text at the top of the banner reads “1983 Baseball State ‘A’ Champions,” then lists of the members of that Corbett crew which is still the only team in program history with a title.

The line score of that championship victory reveals how wild the season was for those Cardinals. Corbett went back and forth with Scio for 13 innings before finally winning in walk-off fashion, completing a perfect 22-0 season.

There has only been one undefeated season in Oregon at any classification since then.

“It was just one of those things where everything went right,” Dan Hooley, outfielder for that 1983 team, said. “That game was the picture of our season. We would get into a hole, then we would come back. That happened a few times that year, and if we had lost any of those games, we might not have been in the playoffs to begin with.”

Hooley is one of two members of that team still living in Corbett. He lives on the same farm he did then. Hooley has done a little bit of everything since that magical string of baseball games. He has worked as a tow-truck driver, had a tree service, worked in the logging industry and even coached at Corbett for a spell.

Recently, though, Hooley thinks he has found his true calling. He will be receiving a bachelor's degree from Multnomah University in September. He then plans to pursue a master's degree with the intention of working with and helping troubled youth. He has done some work in that field in a volunteer capacity and has hopes of doing it permanently.

Hooley has two children who have grown up and are now in college. He coached his kids, and others, in the 32 years since becoming a state champion, and feels like he is just now understanding the significance of that accomplishment more than three decades ago.

“As a 17-year-old, you are kind of naïve to how big it is. You are just playing a game,” Hooley said.

Hooley looks back on that squad and openly believes the Cardinals were not the best team in the state. He feels like there were a few teams with more talent, but none with more chemistry. Hooley said everyone on the team was so tight-knit that any lack of talent was made up for in the trust and confidence the players had in each other.

“We just had so much fun together, all the time,” Hooley said. “During our run, our coaches joked that they didn’t want to give us too much instruction because they didn’t want to interrupt our fun.”

That closeness made winning that title game – still the longest championship contest in state history – more special. However, that closeness is also why when Hooley thinks back on it now, there is an asterisk attached to it.

Kevin Brandon started the title game on the mound for the Cardinals and was the best player on the team. He was also one of Hooley’s best friends on the squad. After winning the championship and graduating, Brandon struggled to find that same level of success in other aspects of his life. After fighting that battle which every high school graduate must undertake, Brandon died suddenly at the age of 40.

The memories of Brandon, good and bad, serve as a constant prompt to Hooley that there are things greater than baseballs and banners and championship rings. He has tried to keep that perspective as he has coached and lived his own life. That mindset has helped Hooley and others on the team to view their title run not as a sad reminder of a teammate gone too soon, but as a happy, precious one of a friend who won’t be forgotten.