LEWISTON, Idaho – Former Lewis-Clark State College baseball coach Ed Cheff has been honored by the Idaho Legislature with a resolution that recognizes “his dedication, drive and desire to the success” of the Warrior baseball team.
Cheff, who passed away in January at the age of 78, was recognized by both the Idaho House of Representatives and Senate “for the contributions to the State of Idaho, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), United States Baseball, Major League Baseball, LCSC, Nez Perce and surrounding counties, the city of Lewiston, and his family.”
The resolution, which was passed by both the Senate and House, was co-sponsored by the District 6 legislators – Sen. Robert Blair, Rep. Lori McCann and Rep. Mike Kingsley – who represent the Lewiston area. The resolution is available online and will be read during a celebration of Cheff’s life on Saturday at Ed Cheff Stadium at LC State’s Harris Field. The event will begin at 1 p.m. and also will be streamed live.
In Idaho, a resolution denotes the adoption of a motion where the subject matter does not properly constitute a law. It is an official expression of the opinion or the will of the legislative body. It must be approved by both the House and Senate and also signed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate and the President Pro Tem of the Senate.
The resolution honors Cheff, who coached the Warrior baseball program to 16 national NAIA titles in 34 years. He compiled a record of 1,705-430-4, which is the fifth-most wins by any collegiate baseball coach, and the second-highest winning percentage at .799.
The two-page resolution highlights Cheff’s life and accomplishments, which are plenty. He began his Warrior coaching career in 1977 and retired after the 2010 season. At the time of his retirement, he was second only to Wichita State’s Gene Stephenson in wins with the same program among all levels of college baseball.
Under his leadership, the Warriors won at least 40 games for 30 straight seasons and produced 114 players who were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, including 16 who made it to the big leagues.
Cheff's teams also produced 72 NAIA All-Americans and three NAIA Players of the Year.
During Cheff's tenure, LC State played in 11 consecutive NAIA World Series championship games and won eight. To put this in perspective, no other program has won more than four NAIA World Series titles in its 64-year history. LC State has been to the Series a record 39 times, more than double any other NAIA program, including 28 under Cheff. Of those 28 appearances, the Warriors finished fourth or higher 25 times.
Cheff has been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and been selected the winner of the ABCA's Lefty Gomez Award for his lifetime contributions to amateur baseball. He was named the NAIA Coach of the Year eight times. In 2011, he was inducted into the North Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame.
In 2011, Cheff became the first inductee of the Warrior Athletic Association's Hall of Fame. The WAA Hall of Fame now includes a number of his former teams and players.
LC State also honored Cheff in 2017 with the naming of Ed Cheff Stadium, the home to the Warrior baseball team along with Harris Field. The college held a dedication ceremony to honor the legendary coach in April of that year.
Cheff, who was raised in Butte, Mont., played football and baseball at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. While there, he was named the baseball team's MVP and also was named to the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association's All-America team.
Cheff came to LC State after a successful coaching career at Lower Columbia Community College in Longview, Wash. He replaced Ramon Hooker at the Warrior helm following the 1976 season when the Warriors made their first appearance in the NAIA World Series and finished second to Lewis College in Illinois. Cheff also was inducted in the Lower Columbia CC Hall of Fame in 2002.
One of the trademarks of Cheff's teams was their mental toughness. LC State lost more than 20 games only once in a season and during his final seven years, his teams averaged 50 wins and only 8.6 losses.
Cheff not only built successful collegiate baseball teams but also worked to instill a sense of pride and work ethic in each Warrior that came through his program. Warrior baseball is valued by the local community for its dedication to active involvement with local events, fundraisers, and volunteer programs. The impact of the program is noteworthy both on and off the field.
During his time at LC State, Cheff also was on the coaching staff for Team USA in 1991 and again in 1994 when he served as hitting and third-base coach at the World Championships. He also spent seven summers coaching baseball in the Alaska Collegiate League, which features college baseball players from across the United States.
Cheff often was asked to speak at coaching clinics outside of the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, including the American Baseball Coaches Association on six occasions.
On May 11, 1996, Cheff captured his 1,000th career victory with a doubleheader sweep over Central Washington, becoming only the third coach in NAIA baseball history to win 1,000 games. He became only the fourth coach at any level to win 1,500 games during the 2006 NAIA World Series.
After he retired, Cheff and his wife Karen, a retired elementary school teacher, moved to western Washington. Cheff regularly returned to Lewiston for the WAA Hall of Fame inductions, which take place every other year.
Cheff is survived by Karen and their three sons, Trevor, Tyler and Toby.