Tag Archives: babe ruth baseball

We Weren’t Done Yet!

Isn’t there another chance to learn that play? A chance to show the new skill being mastered? When can we cover this again? Why does it always have to end?

Those who are closest to me in the baseball circles that I tread upon, they know how the last day of the season means to me. How much it affects me. And they probably know how much I have written on the subject over the years.

But this year was different. Aren’t they all.

When my Dad died on April 14th this year, it was baseball season. When I couldn’t bring myself around the team or the game for 3 weeks afterward, our coaches and parents picked up my slack. And when I did return, the game was there, like it always is, to rescue me and lift me slowly to my feet.

Then when the playoffs ended, we started the all-star season. Our first team practice was on June 27th, just 20 days ago. We practiced for 7 straight days. We had the 4th of July off, then another practice on the 5th. On the 6th the District tournament started. We hosted the tournament in Goffstown, at Allard Park. Then another practice on the 13th. Bang, the State tournament started on the 14th. Again, we hosted (we are still hosting).

On Friday the 15th, I drove to Canada for a family commitment. I drove back, nearly 400 miles on Saturday, hoping to get back to Allard Park before our game was done. I missed. So close.

So did we. We missed, as a team. So close. We lost the final game of our season, 3-1. Just writing the words makes me cringe, and reminds me how difficult sports are, as only ONE team finishes the season with a win. Yes, just ONE.

I pulled in among the pines as the crowds were just starting to disperse following our game. I felt the pain that I always feel when there is no competitive tomorrow. I felt bad for having missed the game. But as much as I love baseball, family is more important, and that’s where I was needed.

Knowing me I will write too much and blow some readers out. But, as I usually do, I give the feeling of the good, or the bad, the great, or the disappointing, a chance to wash over me. A chance to resonate. Because the taste left in your mouth doesn’t always have to be bad even when things don’t go your way. And I do that by staring the reality right in the face, and I feel the pangs, while taking accountability for the parts I caused, corrected, or corrupted. So take away what you will.

Last year we had 27 days. This year it was just 20 days. So much work. So many throws, and swings. So many words and methods of communication. So much heat and frustration. So much fun. So much improvement. So much effort. So many lessons. So many chances to grow and learn, together. So many positive results that always seem to get less attention than the ones we stop to correct. I hate that about baseball because there is so much failure in the game. But then when skills are being mastered, appreciation should absolutely soar. Most kids are done playing baseball by the time they reach the age of 12.

Ya it was a different year. We had 3 players who practiced regularly with us as to improve their games while not being on the roster at all. I am thoroughly impressed with them for showing up and taking reps all in the name of improvement. Thank you to those kids and their families. You helped us all get better.

It probably goes without saying far too often, so I will say it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. To the parents, the families, the players, the coaches, the volunteers, and the entire support group we all count on. You all are second to none. As one Dad from another team said to me last week, “Hey coach, you guys have a great facility here. What really stands out, is all the work you all do to make this a great experience for all of us. (Laughing, he added) And you look like you have so much fun working together”. I thanked him sincerely for taking a moment to share that with me. I heard a lot of similar commentary from coaches, parents, and officials who happened to spend time with us at the gem we know as Allard Park. So, again, thank you to all of you and those who support your efforts. Thank you to the Allard Family.

Finally, I point out that several folks approached me with encouragement as they relayed their own perspective of how much they thought the team had grown or improved, or both. As a coaching staff, we don’t have the effect on these young men to the level a college football coach might have over four years, but I think there’s a valid lesson in a quote from the great coach, Amos “Alonzo” Stagg when he was asked if one of his college football teams was his best team ever, he answered: “Is this my best team ever? I won’t know that for another 20 years or so.”

So many things to learn. How to improve mechanics. How to make this play or that one. What to do in a game situation. Situational thinking and execution. So many lessons. How to be a better teammate. How to overcome adversity. How to win and lose with grace. How to approach each opportunity to be on the field. How to carry yourself as a fine young man. The list goes on and on.

I am proud of the team, and how hard they worked to improve. I got to see them raise their compete level to a previously unprecedented height, without losing sight of the game, or respect for their opponent. I love the spirit shared, as they willed flawless execution for one another while working to do their best on the splendid symmetry of the diamond. It was my pleasure to work with all of you. And despite me getting fired up to make a point every once in a while, I am truly humbled and honored to walk among you all, and be called coach.

Some previous writings on this subject:

From 2007

Last Season

2014 Season End

The Last Day of the Season

To Coach Hartwell, Coach Dodge, our baseball community, and the parents and families surrounding the players on our team:

As gravity took over and the baseballs’ path fell from the sky and rested finally into the opposing left fielder’s glove, my hopes for a miracle comeback were replaced with the reality that I knew could come. Almost immediately, I found the softer, sentimental side of me taking over and countless thoughts and memories started messing with my mind. I mean, I was still just making my way on to the field to shake hands with our opponents, and my mind was flashing memories of my own personal collection of “The Last Day of the Season”. As we shook hands, and I congratulated the other team and wished them well moving forward, a coach from the other team asked me to make sure that Goffstown, please, put in a bid to host the State Tournament next season. This was a vote of confidence and a compliment to how well our community had run the District Pool Play Tournament over July 8-14 this summer. Then, as I turned away from the end of the line, back towards our dugout, I could feel that choking feeling rise into my throat, and my eyes started to water despite my best efforts to keep such things at bay. Continue reading

Thank you Baseball

To Coach Hartwell and Coach Dodge:

This morning I woke wishing we still had games left to coach, or even tournament games left to organize. Excuses for me to be at Allard Park are easy to come by. Mostly though, I wanted to thank you both for welcoming me into your dugout. You two were selfless in regard to our pecking order and were very open minded regarding discussion, thought process, and decision making. I appreciate it very much. I enjoyed battling alongside you two over the past week as well as preparing in the weeks before, and yes, I miss it already. It was both a joy and a pleasure to be announced with you and the Goffstown team at Allard Park this week. The anthem still gives me goose bumps. I closed my eyes yesterday as we stood on the 3rd base line while the anthem played and I thought of how fortunate I was to be a part of the team and to represent my town. I sang the words silently to myself as the sun shone down, pondering the thousands of past baseball heroes who had been so lucky as me. Thank you guys. It was wonderful to pace the dirt floors of the Allard Park dugouts again, and to look up and down the bench at kids playing for their home town community spelled across their chests. Thank you.

Thank You to Youk’s Kids

On Saturday, August 4th, 2012, lightning struck Allard Park. It certainly wasn’t the first time lightning struck Goffstown’s hidden gem. For the most part the lightning strikes have been of a baseball nature when kids pull greatness out of the improbable. This strike, however, momentarily turned the storied Goffstown Babe Ruth Baseball program upside down. Lightning caused a fire to ignite and ultimately destroy the building we all know simply as, ‘The Barn’.

The Barn. This old building with so many stories tucked away in every nook and cranny. The building offered by the Allard family for baseball use year round. The Barn, where players worked to get better. The Barn, where so many took shelter in thunderstorms past, like the one that was its undoing. The Barn, where coaches met to get their season’s equipment. The Barn, where GBR All-Stars felt a little more important. The Barn, where any reason for a meeting was good enough. The Barn, where uniforms, equipment, first aid kits, and all things GBR Baseball were housed. The Barn, where each of us has memories we will hold forever.

Amidst the rubble and the disbelief that our baseball icon was gone we came in for a look at the fire ravaged building. I went over on a quiet morning or three to visit one of my all-time favorite spots. I sat down on the ground and just remembered the scenes playing in my mind. I remembered countless times in and around The Barn. I wrote a poem inspired by the history we shared, The Barn and I. It came out in the moments I sat there, next to the rubble of The Barn. The spot where I sat, I have shoveled snow from that spot, I have parked in that spot, I have played catch with players in that spot, I have retrieved foul balls from that spot, I talked with baseball friends in that spot, I have welcomed shade from The Barn in that spot, and it was the spot I reflected from.

So, this little baseball program, from not such a baseball hot spot in Southern NH, lost it’s baseball storage and workout facility. Just another New Hampshire weather related, sad story, for a little baseball program. I dare say, this is not your average, everyday, little youth baseball program. I could be wrong, but I think that this community has, does, and will come together and rally around our national pastime unlike most. People here plan their vacations for the end of August, or not at all, so that baseball can be completed. This often times means that Goffstown has teams playing post season ball through July and into August, competing at the District, State, and Regional level. As the pictures show, there is a history of winning in this program. Over the years, I have heard many local sentiments that unknowingly refer to the Goffstown Babe Ruth baseball program as ‘too competitive’. First, as it should be, it is competitive. What meaningful part of life isn’t? Second, I have also heard many praises from many of those same folks, who did sign their teen up to play, and were blown away at how much they loved it, how much the kids learned from it, and how wonderful the experience was, even if their player wasn’t an all-star. It’s a youth baseball program, a very good baseball program, but it’s still about the kids. Kids who enjoy baseball, want to get better, and even enjoy competing. As it should be.

So, with all that said, the emotion felt and shared, the stories told, the memories shared, and the reality of loss setting in, from the smoke and the smoldering, emerged one of the good people. Kevin Youkilis. Well, Kevin Youkilis and his foundation, Youk’s Kids. Almost six weeks after Youkilis was traded some 850 miles (in a straight line) away from this area, he still responded. He wasn’t asked to respond. He, and his foundation reached out to Goffstown Babe Ruth President, Kevin Baines. The phone call they made that Monday morning is one of the biggest reasons the GBR program was turned upside down only momentarily. Youk’s Kids offered to replace the lost baseball equipment up to $20,000, as I understand it. Wow! That’s incredible. One phone call in response to the Boston and Manchester news stations that had picked up on the story in this little baseball community.

In a day and age when too many people dismiss most things as, ‘not my problem’, it would be easy to dismiss this story from a Time Zone away. Dismissed? Not a chance. Youk’s Kids stepped up to do what they do. They help kids in need. Goffstown, New Boston, and Dunbarton make up our school district and also many of our youth athletics programs, and these kids aged 13-15 were in need for someone to help. Thank you Kevin Youkilis and Youk’s Kids for stepping up and helping this baseball rich community in a time of dire need. This baseball program means everything to many people each summer and with the thankless help of people like Kevin Youkilis and organizations like Youk’s Kids, this program will rise from the ash and be strong again. Thank you to Kevin Youkilis and his foundation.

Allard barn fire 2

Once this smoke cleared and the remains were left to stare at in disbelief, Kevin Youkilis and others emerged to help GBR move forward.

Allard barn fire

It’s hard to believe that this very real picture played out in our own backyard.

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GBR, where champions are made.

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Championship teams from this little community bonded together forever in triumph.

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These pictures don’t capture all the history and success, but they give you an idea of what this program means to so many people in town.

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The pines. The pines that shielded The Barn from hundreds of foul balls. The pines looking different without the back drop of The Barn.

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Our little gem took a hit, but will carry on, thanks to so many caring, wonderful people.

Dr. Moe and the group showing off the bat at Allard

Dr. Maurice Allard shares a commemorative bat with us. This picture, at the time, shows GBR players and coaches from past and present. We were there practicing baseball for the love of the game.

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Jake Glauser, now playing baseball at the University of Southern Maine, works out in The Barn a few years ago. Not much of a view in The Barn, but hard work isn’t always pretty.

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Ryan Beal, now playing baseball at Central Connecticut State University, hits in The Barn, offering a different view of this place we cherished.