Tony: Throwing out the first pitch for the Keene Swamp Bats.
Throwing out the first pitch at the Keene Swamp Bats' final game of the season was one of the real pleasures of Tony’s baseball career: a warm summer evening with the promise of post-game fireworks, his friends from American House Keene in attendance and his children and grandchildren there to cheer him on. Not even a recovering rotator cuff injury could dampen the excitement. After Christy, American House’s own CRD, sang the National Anthem, Tony adjusted his U.S.S. Washburn ball cap, wound up his semi-sore throwing arm and tossed the ball across the plate to signal the start of the game.
That pitch was a great chapter, one of many in a life filled with rich stories, noble efforts…and baseball. The game called to him at an early age and Tony answered, trying out for catcher, “because it was the only position no one had signed up for!” He would go on to don the catcher’s mask every game from junior high school through college.
During World War II, while serving as a radioman aboard the U.S.S. Washburn, Tony’s active naval career ended the night he received the Morse code message that the war was over. “I was able to confiscate a copy of the message for my scrapbook,” says Tony of that momentous event.
Marrying his college sweetheart, Rita, and raising a family of five children filled his life with love, but it was coaching athletics that gave it purpose. “I found coaching young athletes very rewarding,” says Tony. “I took pleasure in watching them gain poise, maturity and self-confidence while developing a good self-image.”
One player stands out in his mind. “Rick was an athlete with excellent skills. He mastered football, baseball and was very aggressive in basketball, but he lacked one thing – accuracy – his shots had a hard time finding the basket,” says Tony. The boy worked hard and had a lot of heart, but to be a scoring-threat, Rick needed work. Tony knew what he had to do. “We had two weeks to go before the state championships, and I told him he had to come in a half-hour before and after practice to work on his shooting.” Turns out, Rick took the challenge further, coming in on weekends as well. He went the extra mile, and it paid off, earning him the first four baskets that led to a championship win. Tony says, “Rick’s perseverance, his development; that meant more to me than winning.”
In addition to seeing his idol, Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams, play at Fenway Park, one of his best baseball memories was hitting a grand slam while playing for Plymouth State College. Tony’s story is filled with tales of sports accomplishments, trophies and, now, throwing out the first pitch at the Swamp Bats game. With all that he’s done, Tony considers his high points the times where he helped guide the success of others. “Some of my athletes still keep in touch,” he says, adding, “and I enjoy writing short stories about them.”
We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.