Longtime Gonzaga associate head baseball coach Danny Evans has died after a yearlong battle with cancer, the school announced in a news release Sunday morning.
Evans, who’d been dealing with stage 4 melanoma cancer for approximately one year, was 41 years old.
“Danny had a tremendous impact on Gonzaga that reached far beyond the baseball field,” Gonzaga coach Mark Machtolf said in the school release. “He had a positive influence on hundreds of student-athletes. Danny was an outstanding baseball coach and colleague, but more importantly he was a great husband, father, and friend. He will be deeply missed.”
Since 2009, Evans had served as Gonzaga’s associate head coach, but he’d been a member of the Bulldogs’ staff for 19 years. Evans was a four-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs in the early 2000s, playing third base and shortstop at GU before graduating from GU in 2003.
Steve Hertz, head coach of the baseball team during Evans’ playing career, said it was obvious the infielder would go on to help teach the game.
“He was that kind of high school player that was just beyond his years,” Hertz said. “He didn’t just play hard. He celebrated the game when he played.”
Evans played 162 games in a Gonzaga uniform and won All-West Coast Conference Second Team honors after his senior season.
“Danny authentically lived his life exhibiting care and compassion for others and an unwavering commitment to ensure our baseball student-athletes achieved their fullest potential as athletes, students, and men,” Gonzaga Director of Athletics Chris Standiford said. “He has set for us all a great example of what it means to be a true Zag.”
Evans acted as the primary recruiting coordinator, third base coach and infield coach at Gonzaga, presiding over a program that had 30-win seasons over his tenure. In Evans’ last full season with the program, the Bulldogs won 34 games, captured the WCC regular-season title and advanced to the NCAA Regionals.
Mike Roth, who served as the university’s athletic director from 1997 until his retirement last year, said he remembered when Evans first arrived on campus as a player.
“There wasn’t a day Danny didn’t have a smile on his face,” Roth said. “Even when he was going through the treatments.”
That included when Roth announced his retirement. Though Evans was in the middle of treatment, Roth said he returned to campus to wish Roth well.
“He said, ‘I gotta be here for you,’ ” Roth said. “That’s the kind of person he was. He made me cry.”
Evans helped lead GU to five WCC regular-season titles, in 2009, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2021, guided the Zags to the NCAA Regionals on four occasions and helped them achieve a national ranking in seven different seasons.
“Danny Evans was integral to the success of Gonzaga,” tweeted Teddy Cahill, a national college baseball writer for Baseball America. “While he hasn’t been in the dugout this year, his fingerprints are all over the team.”
Washington State baseball coach Brian Green offered condolences to Evans’ family and GU baseball through social media, tweeting “Prayers from @wsucougarbsb for the @ZagBaseball Family. We are supporting you from Eugene today.”
Evans is survived by his wife, Kellie, and children, Graham and Quinn.
Hertz said the number of former players who returned to see Evans had been overwhelming.
“It’s just such a surreal thing that has happened here,” Hertz said. “We’ve all got to just pull together and take care of Kellie and the kids.”
A GoFundMe for Evans created nine months ago has received 171 total donations and collected more than $59,000. Donations to the GoFundMe can be made at gofundme.com/f/support-coach-danny-evans-his-children.
Staff writer Kip Hill contributed to this report.
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