For a while, he’d wake up in the morning, thinking it was time to go to work, but he realized there was no work to go to.
Even the summer games that he would frequent have become foreign to him, since he hasn’t been to one since the high school season ended.
“I haven’t really done anything,” English said. “It’s been a strange summer for me. It felt different not going to a baseball game, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with school starting up again.
“I don’t want to walk away from the game totally, but I don’t want to be as heavily involved in it as I was as a coach. We’ll see.”
English will never forget the game he spent 41 years coaching — 29 at Osborne, two at Douglas County and 10 at Kell — and neither have his peers as the American Baseball Coaches Association recently named English its Division III National Coach of the Year, beating out seven other coaches for the honor. He was also selected the Region 4 Coach of the Year.
“I don’t know how it came about,” English said. “I guess they found out I was retiring. All of the coaches in the region know each other and someone must have turned my name in for nomination. Since I had been coaching for so long, they picked my name. It’s a very nice gesture and a super honor.
“The ABCA is a great organization. They do a lot for baseball. It’s kind of surprising to get it. I had no idea they were considering me.”
According to English, the ABCA is a member-run organization of high school and college coaches. There are at least 3,000 members, and the group holds its national convention in early January, which is when English will receive his award.
“The national convention is in a different city every year,” he said. “It’s a huge thing and all of the hotels will be filled. It’ll be in Dallas next year, and that’s where I’ll pick up the award.”
One of English’s longtime friends in the coaching fraternity, Dave McDonald, was excited that he took home the honor.
“It’s an outstanding award for Donnie and for the baseball coaches in our area,” said McDonald, the former longtime Wheeler coach. “He represents many years of hard work the coaches and players have put in, and it represents his time and service to baseball and his excellence in the sport.”
English knew his time in baseball was nearing its end after a doctor informed him during the season that he had a blocked artery that would require surgery.
“Knowing I would have to go through surgery had something to do with my decision to retire,” English said. “I knew something was wrong during the season, so I went and got checked out and got the news.
“I waited until after the season for surgery, and a stent was put in my heart in June to open up the artery. I feel fine now.”
McDonald thought English was going to retire following the 2012 season, but English revealed he was going to coach one more season.
“I knew he had some problems for a while,” McDonald said. “I thought he’d retire last year, but he was committed to the school and to his players.”
In English’s final season, he led Kell to a 19-11 record and a second-round appearance in the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
“He wanted to have one last good season before he stepped down, and he got it,” McDonald said.