SOUTH BURLINGTON -- The Rice Memorial High School baseball field belongs to varsity baseball coach Mike Pearo. "He's dropped a lot of sweat on that field," said Brent Tremblay, assistant coach, a former player and the Catholic school's assistant principal. "It is Mike Pearo's field." The field will be dedicated in honor of Pearo this weekend. This is his 40th year coaching the varsity baseball team and 43rd year coaching at Rice. Pearo, 65, has no plans to retire. The Rice varsity baseball team has been a perennial competitor under Pearo but has not taken home the state title. His teams are known for having respect for the game, wearing neatly kept uniforms, involving everyone who makes the team and taking risks to get the most out of players. He's also known as a passionate social studies teacher who has taken more than 2,000 students to Europe and many to South America. "The sports part of me is important, but it's only part of me," Pearo said. "There's the old joke that every history teacher's first name is Coach. Well, really, the classroom is such an important part of my life." Pearo said he's proud of the number of future historians and social scientists he's seen graduate from Rice. There have been far more of those than professional baseball players like Jamie Merchant, who graduated in 1999, and is currently playing for a Class A club in the Carolina League. "I always tell players you have to be tough to play baseball in Vermont," Pearo said. "It's cold. Spring in Vermont is not baseball weather. You have to be committed." Longtime junior varsity coach John Varricchione said Pearo has been an innovator during his time at the high school, finding creative ways for the team to win and the players to still have fun doing it. Over the years, he's used a four-man outfield when scouting shows an opposing player often splays the ball in the outfield and rarely hits a grounder, Varricchione said. When he's had only one quality pitcher, Pearo has used that player in as many games as possible. During the ace pitcher's off days, Pearo has used the remaining pitchers one inning at a time to throw off opposing teams. "During a hitting slump he doused the bats in holy water," Varricchione said. "I'm pretty sure they won that game, too." Pearo also hired Mari Goodridge-Miller as an assistant coach -- hiring a woman to coach varsity baseball is a rarity in Vermont, Varricchione said. "For someone like Mike, who has been around for so long, to do something so forward thinking like hiring a female coach is huge," Goodridge-Miller said. "You'd think he'd be so traditional that he wouldn't think of it." Goodridge-Miller said she's always been struck by how Pearo will work so hard to get all players into the games. If someone has passion for the game, she said, he'll find a way for that student to play. Earl Handy, who graduated from Rice in 1993, was one of those players. In middle school, he became a bat boy so he could be near Pearo on bus rides. Handy played for two years at Rice. "I was not one of the best players," he said. "I was an average player. But I got to play for Coach Pearo." Pearo said it will be a great honor to play his games on Mike Pearo Field. He gave credit to his assistant coaches and his players for the wins over the years -- nearly 400 of them. "I've had opportunities to leave," he said. "The offers have been very attractive, but Rice has been my home. I've always felt comfortable. I've always felt appreciated. And most of all, I love the students here."