A Very Happy Easter to one and all out here in WTP Sports land. I thought today and this little blurb could be about why it’s great to be a baseball coach at the local level here around Boston. No it’s not in part because of our beloved Boston RedSox. It is due to the young boys and now men that have played baseball or currently play baseball for me.
This coaching gig started when I was 18 years old in Somerville, Massachusetts when my next door neighbor and a friend of my dad Tim Moore was a coach of a Little League team. I was asked to help him out since I had played baseball my entire life and was currently playing in the top D1 college summer league at that time known as the Intercity League here in the Boston area. Unbeknownst to me, my dad and our next door neighbor John Hayes had already put the wheels in motion and although I didn’t know it then, they would “set me up” to get me between the white lines of a baseball field as a baseball coach for the first time. You see, John Hayes was already scheduled for major knee surgery as a Captain of the Somerville Fire Department and knew he needed backup or a replacement while he recuperated. So this “set up” by 2 dads of an 18 year old kid on Teele Ave in Somerville, MA began in 1985 with a long and storied 32 years of coaching baseball to this day and it has been one the greatest and most satisfying rides of my life. It has nothing to do to do about “coaching” baseball really and I’ll explain what I mean about that a little down the line.
I’ve been fortunate to coach some of the very best players talent wise here in the Boston / New England area over the years. Some have even gone on to be MLB draft picks and play in the pro’s such as Paul Covelle from Medford, MA via Malden Catholic and later Franklin Pierce in NH. I was lucky to get Paul when he was a 16 year old kid to play in the Yawkey League of Boston for the old Malden Bulldogs. It gave Paul a taste of the competition and experience at the next level before he even got to the next level since we threw him in there against college players, ex-college players and even some ex pro’s. Paul Covelle was a flame throwing righty pitcher out of high school who didn’t even have to worry about shaving just yet. Paul had help on his way up the ladder of the baseball ranks over the years but it’s nice to think that even the very small part this old school baseball coach played gives me bragging rights about one of my “Sons of Summer”. Getting Paul to participate in the “Old Timer’s Baseball Game” sponsored every August in Cambridge, MA by Boston’s own Steve Buckley was something every coach can sit back and enjoy. Next was college at Franklin Pierce for college and then the magical calling every college player hopes for – a shot in the Cape Cod League which he got with the Chatham Anglers. Of course I had to make the trip down to the Cape to catch him in uniform during that summer. Next was Paul’s senior year in college where he had a very solid career with one of the top D2 baseball programs in the entire country but would it be enough to get the the best call of his life on draft day ? Day 1 of the MLB entry draft came and went, still no call. Then it happened. With the 807th pick overall in the 27th round Paul’s name was called by the Seattle Mariners. Knowing Paul’s parents pretty well and his brothers, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the Covelle household in Medford, MA on that day. His mom Patty who normally wears one the biggest and brightest smiles must have had cheek cramps that day and knowing Paul Covelle Sr. as I do, he’s a big and tough firefighter in Everett, MA but I’m sure that day he probably had to excuse himself to walk outside and wipe the proud tears of an over joyed dad. God I love baseball, the Covelle’s and times like this. Watching the joy of the parents of the players I’ve coached makes you feel in some small way that they’re your kids too.
I’ve also had the pleasure of coaching some great players after their pro aspirations came to an end. Guys like Jeff Allison who was selected in 2003 by the Miami Marlins in the 1st round (16th overall) out of Peabody, MA. Jeff was a phenomenal talent throwing missiles in excess of 95 mph but Jeff had a deep dark secret in his life that affected his baseball career but more importantly his life in general. That deep dark secret was called “addiction”. Through lots of pain, hard work and putting recovery first in his life I’m proud Jeff has maintained years of sobriety under his belt. Jeff is a regular on the talking circuits about drug addiction and alcohol abuse with thousands of kids all over the New England area today and coaches just as many kids in baseball. I took my life experiences as a recovering addict myself to hopefully help Jeff as best as a I could never mind coaching between the white lines of a baseball field. Not only is it gratifying to see Jeff persevere today but it was an honor to coach him and to coach with him for an AAU program started by former Boston RedSox Steve Lomasney. Jeff Allison is doing well, still coaching baseball,still sober and clean,still having a positive effect on kids and has recently gotten married. One thing I tried to teach Jeff was about FEAR. You can either Face Everything And Recover or just say Fuck Everything And Run. I’m so happy he’s faced his demons and is the person he is today.
The 2 players I mentioned above are just a small example of the kids or men I’ve coached all these years in baseball. I have so many examples of young fine men today that I could write about including 2 founders of WTP Sports here – “Joe Scotch” and my own son “Big Red”. Scotch is like a second son to me on and off the baseball field and yes I have no problem putting him in his place but most of the time I do what I can to offer words of advice and display an attitude of being positive in everything he does. Of course I have a “bat phone” directly to his awesome parents Joe and Michelle if needed and they have mine as well. In fact I have the “bat phone” connection to many of my players parents but of course it’s to talk about baseball, college and lots of other good things in life. One of my good friends happens to be my dentist. Dr. Craig Costanza of Revere, MA who I’ve had the pleasure of watching his 2 boys make it as little league players all the way to play college baseball at Suffolk University and AIC in Springfield, MA. I love talking to the parents of all my “Sons of Summer”. We share parenting stories, baseball stories of course and check in from time to time to see how all the kids are doing whether it’s my 2 kids or their kids.
My “Sons of Summer” have been an extension to my family for many years. I loved watching them grow up, revel in their success or feel their pain in a failure. Coaching baseball to thousands of kids and men around the greater Boston area is so much more than what happens between the white lines. It’s more than that. From little league all the way up to the collegiate level there are life lessons taught and life lessons learned. It’s not about a win or a loss within the game. I would like to think that every time I put a uniform on – I’m a winner regardless because of all the boys and men on my team and many on the other bench I’ve become friends with for so long. I’ve tried my best to be a positive influence with them all. On a day like today it’s easy to remember the last perfect person dies 2017 years ago and I am not him. In closing I’d like to wish each and every one you a Happy Easter and as this old coach would say – whatever your passion is, wherever life’s path take you in the professional world or whatever college you decide to go to just do it all with one thing in mind – KILL IT / RULE THE WORLD and do the best you can. I’m one lucky guy to have so many touch my life on the baseball diamond. Who’s better than me ? I got to coach at Fenway Park a couple of times for the Yawkey League of Boston’s annual all star game.
John “Smokey” Moore
PS. A Happy Birthday to a great baseball writer and an advocate of helping so many college and high school baseball players in the Greater Boston / New England area with his “OldTime Baseball Game” held every year in Cambridge, MA. Happy Birthday on this Easter to you Steve Buckley.