Bainbridge High School baseball lists five seniors on its 2022-23 roster. However, if you ask any of the seniors, they will tell you Baden Biddle should have been their sixth.
“This would have been Baden’s senior year, and he would have been part of this team,” coach Geoff Brown said. “These seniors are playing in honor of Baden knowing if he was here, he would be playing for a chance at state.”
Baden and his father, Troy, were honored at the Bainbridge senior day baseball game May 1 against North Mason. Baden’s mother Amanda Horn and sister Devon Biddle attended, and Horn threw out the first pitch.
“It’s beautiful to be remembered and honored because the alternative would have been more painful,” Horn said. “Although it was tough to be there, it would be worse if nobody said their name anymore. I fully believe Baden would have been standing there and adding value to the team.”
Troy, 53, and Baden, 13, as well as Troy’s brother-in-law Daryl Horn and nephew Joseph Horn, died Nov. 25, 2017 in a car accident with a drunk driver in San Pablo, CA. The family was driving home from an annual father-son basketball tournament.
“When the accident happened, it is indescribable because all the females had spent the day in Napa hanging out and having dinner with my dad,” Horn said. “We settled in to watch a movie and got a phone call from Jared [Horn], and it was a panic. Our first thought was we were driving to the scene but we soon learned the freeway was shut down on both sides.”
They were supposed to return to Bainbridge Island the next day. However, Horn described the following day as “walking through a haze.” She began calling friends, and vigils and funerals were held in Napa, Bainbridge and Astoria, OR where Troy grew up.
Once the family returned to BI, the community poured out its support. “People showed up, even strangers who I didn’t begin to think would leave meals, flowers or presents for Devon. It just kept going the whole first year.”
Once Horn was starting to heal, the criminal trial arrived in 2019. “I was reliving it and wouldn’t wish it upon anyone,” Horn said. “I was an attorney and knew what a courthouse was like but never imagined in a billion years that I would ever be subject to the awfulness.”
The following year was when COVID hit. “If I was writing a movie, someone would be like give that character a break. It just kept coming.”
Several of the current BI seniors grew up with Troy as their coach and Baden as one of their friends. When they received the news, they were not sure if they would be able to step on a field again.
“When we lost him, it was really hard to play the sports without him,” senior Eddie Bignold said. “Playing without him was like relearning the sport. Over the years, it has become easier, but there is always a lingering feeling.”
The loss affected the entire Bainbridge community because Troy coached multiple sports while Baden played baseball, basketball and any other sport he had time to play.
“There is a part of me that was taken away,” senior Luke Lavinge said. “There were a few seasons where it didn’t feel right to play sports and not see him with us. His dad was always coaching with us, and we always carpooled together.”
In addition, the Biddle household was recognized as the main hub for sleepovers, parties and meeting new people. “Baden was the kid where everyone would have stepped up and said he was my best friend,” Horn said.
Horn added that Baden’s friends have also taken Devon under their wing, treating the sophomore at BHS like a little sister with several older brothers watching her every step. In addition, the families help Horn and her daughter. The fathers of the seniors will help teach Devon how to drive, take her to events and more. Plus, the Biddle family is welcome at every party still.
“Last year, my birthday was a Monday in December,” Horn said. “Suddenly, thirty people were in my house and all these families celebrated my birthday on a Monday night. They just keep showing up.”
Horn and the families decided to expand past parties and keep Troy and Baden’s legacies alive through the Biddle Foundation. In 2018, Troy’s colleagues from his law firm wanted to put on a memorial golf tournament to raise money. Horn agreed, and families and friends along the West Coast came to play. “It felt so good to have different types of people come together,” Horn said.
Horn began building the foundation as president. She added some family and friends to round out the board of the foundation. Then, she had to figure out what to do with the money. “We worked with Rotary that first year in 2019,” Horn said. “They helped us get a scholarship platform. The candidates that came in blew me away because I didn’t know since Baden wasn’t at that age yet.”
Horn will never forget one of the first recipients. “There were about ten people on the scholarship committee, and he said, ‘I feel like it is my job to carry Troy and Baden’s legacy after what you said to me before that game. It gave me a strong sense of purpose,’” Horn said. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
The Biddle Foundation has since become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The foundation began running the golf tournament and Biddle Ball Family Fun Day to raise money. Afterward, Horn linked up with BHS counselor Krista Pal to run the scholarship program through the school itself.
The scholarship had 24 applicants the first year and 30 the following year. Nowadays, the school goes through a process to narrow it down to 16 applicants and eight recipients.
There’s a general scholarship application for all BHS and Eagle Harbor students, Pal said. There is a committee that nominates students who meet scholarship criteria. Scholarship sponsors review the candidates and select the recipients.
Students must be a contributing member of an athletic team, show leadership, mentorship, sportsmanship and/or ambassadorship and have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Lastly, they look for character traits that are similar to Troy and Baden.
The foundation also has given back to teams on BI. Recently, the Biddle Foundation raised money for Woodward Middle School’s new basketball uniforms. “It is always nice to have his mother and sister there, and the foundation to keep his name running,” Lavigne said. “The foundation definitely helps a lot of people money-wise and exemplifies what Baden lived for.”
Since the foundation is still in its baby steps, Horn has high hopes for her long-term goals. “My goal is always to have a positive connotation when you hear their names,” she said. “We got to make sure to carry their legacies and so far it has been well received.”
Although the tragedy has shaken many, Troy’s and Baden’s lives created an unbreakable bond and a foundation that will make everlasting impacts on youth. “Because of Troy and Baden’s involvement in sports, they really gave us family,” Horn said. “We lost so much family and built an extended beautiful family.”