SAN BERNARDINO - He was a molder of men, a man who taught baseball skills that could be applied to life.

He was a multi-tasker who could negotiate a college baseball scholarship for a player while coaching his team in a championship game, those who knew him said.

More than 500 people attended a memorial service Friday for Michael Spiers, who guided many young, local baseball players into college scholarships or jobs with Major League Baseball.

The service was at San Manuel Stadium. People who came to remember were in the stands. And at home plate: loved ones, flowers and photos.

Spiers, who owned San Bernardino-based ABD Baseball Academy, died from heart failure on Jan. 18 at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

He was 51.

John Totten, 25, now living in the Bay Area, started with Spiers at age 11 and continued with him until graduating from high school.

Spiers helped him get a baseball scholarship to San Francisco State.

"He was always figuring out a way to help is students go to college," Totten said. "As for being a baseball coach, a student could pay for a half-hour lesson on batting at 4 p.m. and at 8 p.m. Spiers would still be working with them. He wouldn't quit until they learned to do it right."

When his students would enter college he'd be checking up with them to make sure they were focusing on studies, said Totten, who majored in economics and statistics.

"He was the first guy I ever met with a Bluetooth (headset)," Totten said.

Rocky Collis said Spiers "taught us skills for baseball that we could use later in life."

A pitcher on the Cornell University baseball team, Collis said Spiers taught his students "how to compete ... how to battle adversity."

Spiers taught his players the importance of "bouncing back from a mistake," said Collis, who was law review editor at Georgetown University Law Center, and who practices sports law in Washington, D.C.

St. Louis Cardinals player Allen Craig said Spiers "really cared about his players" and "believed in them, even if they didn't believe in themselves."

Spiers is survived by his daughter, Jasmine, 36, of Moreno Valley; Mike 27, of San Diego; and a brother Mitch, who lives in Carlsbad.