Aaron Bates (left) was recently promoted to Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach. | Credit: Victor Bryant

Santa Barbara baseball royalty gathered at the Cabrillo Pavilion on Sunday February 5 to honor the three newest members of the Santa Barbara Foresters Hall of Fame.

The Hugs for Cubs/Santa Barbara Foresters Hall of Fame Hot Stove Dinner featured the induction of Aaron Bates, Jon Duplantier and Jaylin Davis.

Foresters manager Bill Pintard began his remarks by recounting what makes the Hugs for Cubs program so special.  At least one child battling cancer or another illness is offered the chance to become a special member of the Foresters team. Recipients have their initials featured on players’ hats all season long, attend Hugs for Cubs events around Southern California and get their own Hugs for Cubs Day at Pershing Park.   

The program was inspired by Bill Pintard’s son Eric Pintard, who had his playing career cut short by an ependymoma diagnosis, a rare form of cancer. He survived for ten years and served on the Forester’s staff as a pitching coach.

“One common thing that we’ve had is chemistry. I really believe in my heart, not only does it make our players better people, but we’re also doing something really positive in the world,” said Pintard of the ten time NBC World Series Champion Forester’s Hugs for Cubs Program.”We visit hospitals. We visit kids that have cancer. We have them be our bat-boys. We try to help them have a better day and that is intertwined in our very fiber.”

That spirit of giving that is the foundation of the Foresters, was echoed by the three Hall of fame inductees. Bates was drafted in the third round of the MLB draft in 2006 by the Boston Red Sox. he made his  Major League debut for  the  Red Sox on July 6, 2009.  He retired from baseball to become an assistant coach in the Dodger minor league system in 2015. He was promoted to co-hitting coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023.

Bates was a slugging catcher and first baseman for the Foresters in 2003 and 2004, posting a .320 average in 2003.

“Someone who is important in my life always told me that the greatest gift you can give someone in this life is your time,” Bates said. “Everybody who knows Pintard, that’s what he does, he gives you his time. It’s the greatest gift you can give to somebody and it’s one thing we can all learn from Bill.”

Bates lost his father suddenly in 2004 and relied heavily on the Foresters family during that difficult time.

“A lot of kids come here at 20 or 21 years old, it is a very formative time in their lives and it’s a crossroads, they can go a lot of different ways,” Bates said. “Having someone like 

Pintard shape your values or kind of push you in the right direction you can’t put a price on that and that is what he did for us.”

Duplantier was part of the Foresters 2014 NBC World Series national championship team. He was the MVP of the NBC World Series and a dominant pitcher that summer,  racking up 74 strikeouts in 55 innings.

He was drafted in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and made his major league debut on April 1, 2019.

The relationship between Duplantier and former Foresters pitching coach Justin Aspegren, who is currently an assistant coach at Appalachian State, was a huge part of his development. Aspegren helped Duplantier develop his changeup and the process of working on that pitch made for an impactful summer.

“We were only together for about ten weeks and Aspegren really changed the way that I viewed pitching and how I viewed the day-to-day work,” Duplatier said. “As the summer went on things started falling into place for me and I realized that, OK I don’t feel like a chicken running around with my head cut  off or this is futile and I’m just a guy that’s out here throwing. I started feeling like I’m learning how to pitch.”

The final inductee Sunday night was Davis, who saved the 2014 championship season with an incredible outfield assist that cut down a potential game-winning run at the Plate.

Davis was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 24th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He defied the odds to make his major league debut on September 24, 2019. He was introduced by Foresters Board President Christina Songer, who was his host in the summer of 2013.

“In 2013 I had a player that changed our lives,” said Songer of Davis. “I don’t have many requests of my players, but one of them is that they are a good influence on my son, who was 14 at the time and they were good dudes.”


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