Bonney Lake High School / Oregon State
Recognizing contributions he made as a leader of the College World Series champion Oregon State Beavers, Michael Gretler is the Dick Hannula Male Amateur Athlete of the Year for the 2017-18 season. Gretler, a 2014 Bonney Lake High School grad, completed his senior college season in grand style helping the Beavers win six consecutive elimination games on the way to defeating Arkansas for the NCAA College World Series title in Omaha in June. Long-time Oregon State coach Pat Casey called Gretler the “heart and soul of Beavers baseball.” “It was the best decision of my life going to Oregon State and playing for coach Casey, coach (Nate) Yeskie, coach (Pat) Bailey and coach (Andy) Jenkins,” Gretler said. “Everyone there, from the support staff the second you show up – it was everything I could have dreamed it would be.” The Beavers spent much of Gretler’s junior and senior seasons ranked No. 1 in the nation as he started mainly at third base. Gretler finished his career with the Beavers with a .285 batting average, 100 RBIs, 91 runs scored and 13 home runs. His performance and leadership qualities led to Gretler being selected in the Major League Baseball draft three times. He was the 10th-round pick of the Pittsburg Pirates in the 2018 draft. He signed quickly and had a strong season for the Class A West Virginia Black Bears in the New York-Penn League. Gretler batted .274 average, with 2 home runs and 30 RBI in 164 at bats. He mostly started at third base but also played second, shortstop and catcher. He was named a NY-Penn League mid-season All-Star. “Anything that he accomplishes, I’m not surprised anymore. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit,” his high school baseball coach Mike Olson said. What Pittsburgh saw in Gretler is what Oregon State discovered. It was what his family – parents Nancy and Jim and his younger brother Matthew (also headed to OSU) – already knew about Michael Gretler: his character and makeup is off the charts. “I watched him play shortstop and I thought he’s pretty good,” Nancy Gretler said. “He reminds me a lot of my dad (Jim Braun). Kind of charismatic, you know, good at sports and everybody likes him. He’s just that likeable guy.” Even former rivals, as with Grant Koch who played for Arkansas, the team Gretler helped Oregon State defeat in the championship, couldn’t help but like Gretler after the two roomed together while they played together in West Virginia. “And he’s a hard worker,” Nancy Gretler said. “So driven – sometimes I would think don’t push yourself so hard, but that’s what I think made him so good. Sometimes I thought doesn’t he need a break, but no, no, he was doing what he loved to do.” That’s the first thing that stood out to Olson when he first met Gretler as a seventh-grader. Back then, at that age, kids are still trying to figure out what it takes to be a young adult, let alone make it in the baseball world. “From the first time I met him, I could see there was something about him,” Olson said. “He told me he wanted to get a college scholarship and win the College World Series, and many kids say the same thing but don’t realize how hard it is and how much work it takes to get to college, let alone on a championship caliber team. But with the way he worked, always working on improving himself, I knew he would get there. He would have a chance.” Rarely has he left people wishing for more. He has made an impression on a lot of people with special moments. “It’s been fun,” Jim Gretler said. ”He’s devoted a lot of time and energy to be the best that he can be as a player. All the credit and work is certainly up to him. He’s done it all.” Teammates gravitate toward him and have recognized him for being an inspiring athlete and person. If you talk to Michael Gretler, the first thing he mentions is others who have helped him along the way. Getting him to open up about himself can be difficult. But ask him about growing up in Bonney Lake or playing for the Panthers baseball team – or even who in the area that he’s played with or against and where they are at and what they’re doing, and he’s got a lot to say. Just not about himself. Character – real, true, honest integrity from a man who knows where he’s come from and where he wants to go in his life. After winning the College World Series with Oregon State, Gretler raced to the stands to be with his family, past coaches, teachers and his girlfriend Emily Fahsel, giving them all hugs and kisses, celebrating his goal from back in 7th grade. There was a lot of support from Bonney Lake in the stands in Omaha. Gretler acknowledges the origins of his baseball success and his heart is forever in his home of Bonney Lake. “Growing up in the time I did at Bonney Lake, even younger, we had an unbelievable group of guys,” he added. “We still keep in contact – a core group of guys, I think that it was just special. Just growing up, you follow guys that you meet in elementary school, middle school and high school – it was a great place to grow up and it still is.” “Being around Matthew who’s four years younger and all his friends – I always wanted to be a positive role-model, someone they could look up to,” Gretler said. “You know, try to do things the right way both on and off the field. I think that’s huge.” He is a Panther. He is a Beaver. Perhaps one day he’ll be a Major League Baseball player. He is Michael Gretler, a deserving honoree as the Dick Hannula Male Athlete of the Year.