Hall of Fame Biographies
2004 – Inaugural Class
Joe Caponigro has been a part of the North Shore Baseball League for twenty five years as a player, manager and league official. He began his career with the Marblehead Yachtsmen in 1979, and developed into an outstanding player with a reputation as a premier third baseman and an excellent clutch hitter…. He started a team from his hometown of Swampscott in 1985. As player-manager for the now Swampscott Sox he organized, managed and inspired a dynasty that is a dominant force in the NSBL to this day. The Sox have competed for an unprecedented 17 championships and have won the crown 10 times. The fact that several of the Sox players have been with Joe since the team’s inception is a testament to the loyalty he inspires….Joe has been the NSBL commissioner since 2001 and under his guidance the league is continually expanding and several of the NSBL teams are ranked within the best 50 semi-pro teams in Massachusetts.
Chester Elliott Roundy (1917 -1997)
Elliott was an outstanding power hitting first baseman for the NBSL Marblehead Headers in the 1930’s and 1940’s. After graduating from Colgate University he began a legendary coaching career at Ipswich High School. He coached and officiated football, basketball and baseball and also made his mark as an athletic director. He is enshrined in many halls of fame….He returned to the NSBL in 1977 and assumed the duties of General Manager and fund raiser for the Marblehead Yachtsmen and brought a love of the game that added stability to the league and the respect of umpires, players, fans and opponents. As a class gentleman, Elliott’s enthusiasm and dedication led to a rejuvenation of semi-pro baseball in Marblehead and the NSBL. During his tenure from 1977 to 1994, the Yachtsmen won four regular season titles and captured the playoff crown in 1989. It is fitting that the historic Seaside Park Grandstand and the Ipswich High School Gymnasium are named in his honor.
Jim “Smuz” Smerczynski
Jim Smerczynski of Peabody has been involved with the North Shore Baseball League since 1980 as a manager, coach and league official. He managed Peabody’s Murphy’s Whips for 15 years before becoming a bench and pitching coach with the Swampscott Sox in 1996. Smuz led the powerhouse Whips to 8 title series and 4 playoff championships between 1981 and 1990. He has become part of the Sox dynasty by contributing to another 8 title series and a being part of 4 more championships… Smuz has also held the title of NSBL Commissioner or Vice-Commissioner over those 25 years and has played a major role in the successful continuity of the NSBL.
Jon Blodgett Sr
Jon spent 18 years in the NSBL as a player, coach, team organizer, Vice Commissioner and Commissioner. He began his NSBL career as a fleet footed outfielder in the early 1970’s while playing varsity baseball at Princeton. He had a high on base average and as an extraordinary base runner was always a threat to score. He had great range as an outfielder and his two way talent contributed to a number of Peabody Elks championships. In 1980 he rejuvenated semi-pro baseball in Peabody by organizing a team that became the highly regarded Whips. As an older player coach he became a constant home run threat and led the Whips to seven championship finals in 8 years that resulted in championships in 1981, 1982, and 1984. Jon also served as league Commissioner for 5 years and provided the leadership that transformed the NSBL into a reputable baseball organization. Off the field Jon pursued a career in law and is currently the Essex County District Attorney.
For 16 years Billy Devin was a fixture in the NSBL. As one of the best pure hitters throughout the 80’s and 90’s, He led his teams to 3 championship series, a league title and a playoff championship during his career. His 1986 Lynn Players team was the last Lynn franchise to be crowned NSBL champions. During the 1989 season he signed with the Castel Franco Dragons of the Veneto League and played professionally in Italy. In the early 90’s Spike led his team to the Westerly Invitational Tournament championship when the Lynn A’s competed against the best semi-pro teams from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Upon his retirement in 2001, He left as the A’s all-time leader in hits, walks, runs scored and stolen bases. Respected by teammates and opponents alike, Billy patrolled the outfield with reckless abandon and was a recognized clutch performer. His passion for the game and “team first” attitude defined his career.
Doug pitched in the regular rotation as an 18 year old in 1980 for the Marblehead Yachtsmen. He became one of the most dominant pitchers in the NSBL over a span of 18 years. He excelled in college where he developed into a power pitcher with great control. Playing Division 3 baseball at Salem State he led the entire nation with a 12:1 ratio of strikeouts to walks. He attracted many scouts and in 1984 at the end of his junior season he signed with the Detroit Tigers. In 1985 he pitched in the Cincinnati Reds system. The following two years he pitched professionally in Holland. Doug was an exceptional athlete. He also played minor league professional hockey. He returned to the NSBL and led the Yachtsmen to the 1989 playoff championship. He pitched the next 9 years for Peabody Champions and was the driving force behind their 7 appearances in the championship finals. He led them to the playoff championship in 1993. He had all the pitches and got better with time. He was a fierce competitor who always wanted the ball and his trademark was a miniscule earned run average.
Steve Kooshkalis was drafted as a pitcher in 1971 on the 28th round by the Boston Red Sox straight out of Peabody High School. Koosh had unlimited potential. He opted to refine his skills at the University of New Haven and perhaps sign after college. But a series of severe arm injuries dashed his hopes for professional baseball. Once healthy he did make his mark on the semi-pro level in the NSBL. Koosh was a strikeout pitcher with a great fastball, a classic overhand curveball and a nasty slider. He knew how to pitch and was probably the most intimidating pitcher in the NSBL during his fifteen year tenure. Koosh was a prime contributor to 2 Peabody Elks championships and 3 Murphy’s Whips titles, as well as, a number of playoff victories. He turned in some legendary formances. One notable feat was winning both ends of a doubleheader in the 1976 championship finals against Winthrop giving up a total of 3 hits in 14 innings. He fired 6 no hitters during his NSBL career. His talent, motivation and competitiveness reflect the spirit of the NSBL.
Dave has been an integral part of the NSBL as a player, coach, manager and league official form the mid 1970’s to the mid 1990’s. He was a sure handed first baseman that belonged to the small illustrious club of monstrous home run hitters that every pitcher and manger feared since he could break up a close game with one swing of the bat. Dave is a standup, honest and candid person that understood how the game of baseball should be played and demanded nothing less from his players or the umpires. Under his influence, the Marblehead Yachtsmen were perennial pennant winners from 1979 to 1990 and appeared in three championship series. They won the championship in 1989. Dave was also a long term league treasurer and executive board member. He had a meaningful impact on the policy making and shaping of the league rules as they exist today and was part of the foundation for the current league success.
Joe was a vital cog in the success of the Marblehead Yachtsmen in the late 1970’s through 1984. He was an excellent hitter and tremendous outfielder with blazing speed. He had exceptional range as an outfielder due to his graceful and effortless running style. This same talent made him a continual threat on the base paths as a base stealer and run scorer. During this time, He also excelled at Colby College and was Captain his senior year. In 1985, Joe was a prime mover in establishing the Swampscott dynasty that still exists today. He had a passion for the game, led by example and his many clutch performances contributed to three playoff championships until he retired in the late 1980’s. As with many NSBL greats he is equally successful off the field and today is a prominent lawyer with a prestigious Boston law firm.
Al has been associated with the NSBL for over 20 years as a player, coach, manager and league Commissioner. He began his NSBL career as a hard throwing pitcher in the mid 80’s while playing varsity baseball at East Carolina and later Central Connecticut. In 1986 he pitched the Lynn Players to the NSBL championship. Through the 90’s, Al was a very successful player/manager for the Lynn A’s franchise. During that period the A’s were consistent contenders for the league crown. In the early nineties the A’s also competed in semi-pro tournaments in Rhode Island. Al did lead them to the championship of the Rhode Island Westerly Invitational Tournament during that time. He served as NSBL Commissioner from 1996 to 1999. Based on previous tournament experience, Al had the foresight to align the NSBL with the Stan Musial Division of the American Amateur Baseball Congress. NSBL teams have been very successful in competing in the various Musial tournament levels and the league is well known for baseball excellence. This reputation has led to much of the success and expansion that the NSBL enjoys todaya nd is Al’s legacy. He still serves on the NSBL Rules committee and is also a corporate sponsor.
Kevin was an all conference shortstop at Salem State in 1985 his first year with the Peabody Whips. He switched over to second base in the NSBL and played until 1992. Kevin was outstanding in every endeavor on the baseball field. He was a spectacular base runner with exceptional speed and was always a threat to steal or take the extra base. Only a few have matched his great range and prowess as a fielder. He was an aggressive hitter known for his power and whose on base average and slugging percentage were always at the top of the league. He had the rare combination that led to being equally adept at driving in runs as well as scoring them. He was a very competitive and determined player but very quiet and didn’t show much emotion. He led by deed. He was one of the driving forces on the Whips 1990 championship team that had an entire lineup of long ball hitters. Kevin is definitely one of the most accomplished players that have competed in the NSBL.
In the early 1980’s, a number of Swampscott athletes played for the perennial contender Marblehead Yachtsmen. Mike, a fine multi-sport athlete, who is also in the Swampscott High School hall of fame for his exploits in baseball, football and hockey, was an outstanding two way first baseman for the Yachtsmen. In 1985, he returned to play for the new St. John’s of Swampscott entry that eventually became the Swampscott Sox. Mike had dexterity, quickness and became a prolific hitter. He played until 1992 and was a significant contributor to four Swampscott championships, not to mention numerous runners up roles. Mike is extremely competitive and always played to win. Some of his home runs are legendary. He hit a ball into the basketball court at Phillips Park that bounced over the fence on one hop and hit the house across the street for a ground rule double. It remains one of the longest balls ever seen hit at Phillips and responsible for the Massey Rule. Now any ball that leaves the yard in left field is a home run. When Mike retired he was a leader in all the significant power records for the Sox. He is currently immersed in coaching youth sports.
Norm was a four year standout performer in soccer and baseball at Marblehead High School and, later at, Plymouth State College. In the spring of 1985 he led Marblehead High School to the state baseball championship. That summer, before his freshmen year at Plymouth State, he was the starting shortstop for the Marblehead Yachtsmen and continued in that role through 1992. Norm was a quiet leader who set the tone with impressive defensive play and timely hitting, both for average and power. He was an excellent base runner with great speed. He played a vital role in Yachtsmen history. In 1989 the Yachtsmen won the regular season title and went on to win the playoff championship. Norm was unquestionably the catalyst and most valuable player on that team from the regular season through the playoffs. He was considered to be one of the Marblehead franchise’s all time best performers and one of the premier players in the NSBL during his eight year tenure.
Tom enjoyed an illustrious 25 year career in the NSBL as a pitcher, first baseman, designated hitter, coach and mentor to the younger players. He was drafted as a pitcher by the Cleveland Indians following his senior season at St. John’s Prep but opted for college and played at WPI and Tufts. From 1981 to 1995 he was an integral part of the famed Peabody Whips where he was an imposing pitcher and awesome hitter who strongly contributed to four championships, as well as, eight championship final appearances. Arm and knee injuries led to a second career as a designated hitter with the Swampscott Sox from 1996 to 2005. He contributed to the legendary Sox dynasty by adding four more championships and eight more championship final appearances. Tom is recognized as one of the most feared and productive power hitters in NSBL history with a legacy of game deciding hits.
Neil Donovan performed flawlessly for the Lynn Flyers and Murphy’s Whips from Peabody during a stellar NSBL career. He was a slick fielding shortstop who didn’t miss a game over a 10 year stretch with the Whips. Neil was gifted with oustanding range, an exceptionally strong arm and knew how to position the hitters. His quiet demeanor belied his competitve spirit, extroadinary work ethic and desire to win. Neil was a deadly clutch hitter who started and fueled many rallies with key hits and his daring baserunning. He was a prime contributor to the Whips success and a major factor in their 4 championship titles.
Scott Faessler was one of the most feared power hitters throughout his 12-year NSBL career. He was not only a standout player but he also managed the Lynn A’s and lead them to the 2001 championship series. Scott also served as NSBL commissioner from 1999-2001. He combined prolific power hitting numbers with outstanding all-around play. Scott produced two straight seasons of 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases while leading his team in RBIs each year. Scott averaged five round-trippers a season and capped off his career by leading the Lynn Brickyard team to a back-to-back playoff appearances.
There’s no doubt David Garofano got every ounce out of his ability and then some. David was a model of consistency during his NSBL career playing with Peabody for many years and then finishing his career with Lynn. David was a hustling member of the Peabody Whips as a solid first baseman and line-drive hitter. A fierce competitor who put his team first, David had the ability to drive a pitch into the gap or launch one over the outfield fences. David, who found himself in the middle of many offensive rallies and come-from-behind victories, helped lead the Peabody Whips to numerous NSBL championships.
Ray Nestor can lay claim to being a member of the Marblehead Yachtsmen for a 17-year period of time. Ray joined the Yachtsmen in 1979 and performed for the team as a highly durable second baseman and third baseman prior to ending his NSBL career as a player/coach in 1994. Ray was the consummate team player who set a great example for younger teammates with his aggressive style and quiet leadership. Ray, who helped lead the Yachtsmen to the 1989 NSBL playoff title, built a reputation among league opponents by stealing a base or delivering a timely hit in a key situation.
Joe Raffa has been associated with the Swampscott Sox for 18 seasons, performing valuable roles as a hard-nosed plate blocking catcher, power hitting designated hitter and now serving as a Sox coach. His hitting prowess is legendary. Joe smashed some of the hardest hit balls and longest home runs many NSBL observers have witnessed. As a player, He possessed a never-ending blue collar work ethic that combined with his strong competitive spirit was an inspiration to his teammates. As a coach, He displayed a wide ranging and versatile knowledge of the game of baseball. Joe was definitely instrumental, in both roles, in leading the Sox to many regular season and playoff championship crowns.
Mike Smercynski was an incredibly valued and versatile player for Peabody Whips during his distinguished NSBL career. Mike, who starred as a solid third baseman and top pitcher, helped lead the Whips to many NSBL championships with his aggressive play and never-say-die attitude. Mike recorded a 24-9 record and registered 181 strikeouts as a top flight pitcher over a five-year stretch from. As a third baseman, it was not uncommon to watch Mike use his body to block a hard hit ball and then fire it on to record the out. In his later years, he became a legendary closer similar to his pitching career at Harvard.
Fred Gardner Sr.
Fred Gardner, Sr. is being honored as the first Distinguished Service Award recipient by the North Shore Baseball League. Fred, a lifelong resident of Peabody, was associated with the NSBL as an active umpire and umpire-in-chief for many summers. Fred was honored last summer with a similar award presented to him by the North Shore Baseball Umpires Association for his many years of loyal service to north shore baseball at all levels. Fred also worked as a football official and basketball referee for many years.
Bobby Dedrick starred for Swampscott from 1986 until his retirement after the 2007 season. The fleet-footed Dedrick was not only an outstanding defensive and offensive performer as a speedy centerfielder, he was also an accomplished lefthanded pitcher for the championship-winning Sox. Bobby is the franchise’s all-time winningest southpaw. He could not only ignite a rally from his lead-off spot, but also posed a serious threat to drive one out of the park. He was a dangerous drag bunter who sprayed the ball to all fields prior to turning into a terror on the basepaths. One of the league’s best ever base stealers, Bobby will be remembered for providing instant offense, nifty over the shoulder basket catches and a nasty curve ball that caused many an NSBL batter to buckle at the knees in pressure situations.
Brian Hayes starred for Swampscott from the mid 1990’s until an injured back cut his career short after the 2003 season. Brian was the anchor at firstbase for the Sox during their annual championship runs. In addition to being an outstanding defensive player, Brian hit in the middle of the powerful Sox batting order. Brian gained a soild reputation of being an “RBI Guy” who delivered consistently in clutch situations when the big hit proved to be the difference. He was held in high esteem by his teammates, coaches, opponents and umpires for his keen knowledge of and respect for the game, workman-like approach. Needless to say, Brian was a major contributor to many of the Sox championship seasons.
Tommy Hogan starred for the Lynn A’s and the North Reading A’s from 1988 until his retirement after the 2003 season. Tommy, a fierce competitor, who is considered the franchise’s “Iron Man” as the all-time leader in games played, was best known for his outstanding versatility. He played every infield position throughout his 15-year career and played them with equal intensity and skill. Tommy was the anchor of the A’s infield as an all-star shortstop during the 2001 championship series against Swampscott. Tommy was the ultimate gamer who was a spirited leader and an exceptionally fundamental player. Tommy hit 25 home runs from 1998 through the 2002 season while batting over 300 each year.
Dan Sweet, who starred for the Kingston, NH Night Owls from 1996 through 2006, is considered by many as one of the NSBL’s best “three way players” in recent memory. Dan joined the Night Owls after playing for Seabrook in the Northeast League and became one the NSBL’s premier pitchers. A righthander who possessed the entire package on the mound, Dan helped lead Kingston to nine playoff appearances in 10 seasons. In addition to his outstanding pitching prowess, which included an overpowering fastball, devastating slider and pin-point control, Dan was also recognized as one of the most feared hitters in The Kingston batting order. Also an excellent left fielder, Dan is the Night Owls career leader in batting average, extra base hits and runs batted in.
Barbara Smerczynski has been involved in the game of baseball all her life and with the organization of the NSBL since 1980. Barbara, who is the wife of Jim, a 2004 NSBL Hall of Fame inductee, and the mother of Hall of Famers Mike (2007) and Tom (2006), has coordinated ticket sales for the Hall of Fame league banquet since its inception in 2004. Since 1980 Barbara has volunteered on an annual basis overseeing the league’s treasury. Recognized as a true blue loyal baseball mom, Barbara proved her love of the game by donning a catcher’s mitt and warming up flame-thrower Mike when he was younger. She also gave up many vacations and family functions over the years in order to support the NSBL. The Smerczynski household would often host ball players for dinners and team functions over the summer months while also housing players on occasion
At the tender age of 18, Mark Aiello was a starting shortstop in the NSBL. Mark began his NSBL career with Salem in 1980, playing there a season before returning to his hometown of Marblehead where he established himself as one the Yachtsmen’s top performers for over a decade. One of “Marko’s” trademarks throughout his amateur career was sporting a dirty uniform by no later than the second inning. As a gritty righty leadoff hitter, Mark utilized the entire field by stroking doubles into the gaps, punching singles through the holes and even knocking one over the fence in a clutch situation. In addition to his offensive versatility – which also included stealing bases – Mark was an outstanding glove man who possessed exceptional range and a strong accurate arm while one of game’s most demanding positions. Two of Mark’s greatest attributes was his ability to play in pain and his “never-say-die attitude”. Mark, who starred on the diamond at Stonehill College, was a member of the 1982 and 1984 Yachtsmen clubs who captured NSBL regular season titles.
Another one of this year’s inductees who made his mark many years ago in the NSBL as a young player and continues to leave his mark as one of the league’s current team managers is Todd Cotton. One of the league’s most colorful characters ever, Todd has been a player, a player-coach or a player-manager for over three decades in the NSBL. Todd is also active off the field serving as the current secretary on the league’s Board of Directors. A firey and tenacious competitor, “The General” – who played at Saint Anselm College – is the current manager of the NSBL’s Brickyard Legends team based in Lynn. As a player, Todd was a highly-skilled performer who played with reckless abandon and a “win-at-all-costs-attitude” which presented opponents with a major challenge and inspired his team members to do their best. A lightening quick centerfielder who possessed a flawless glove and accurate arm, Todd would prevent rallies by effortlessly tracking down gap shots and blasts to the outfield fence. Offensively, Todd was the quintessential leadoff hitter who terrorized the base paths by taking the extra base and swiping a bag. Todd starred for Salem and Peabody during his playing career helping both capture championships. If there is one individual in the NSBL’s storied history who typifies the famous Yogie’s “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” it is Todd Cotton.
Butch Girard, a Peabody native, produced an outstanding playing career in the NSBL prior to serving the league as a longtime umpire. Butch was a star pitcher for Peabody helping the Tanner City capture many league championships back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Along with this year’s fellow inductee Jeff January, Butch is one of just two NSBL Hall of Fame inductees to have played and umpired in the league. During his playing days, Butch was a fierce competitor who practiced the old school philosophy “that a hitter did not own the plate, the pitcher did”. Thus, Butch established himself as a hurler who challenged hitters and dominated the inside of the plate. As an umpire, Butch is second to none. Butch is also a highly-respected official at the high school and numerous amateur levels he has worked over the past four decades. He’s earned the reputation of being fair and in total control of the game. The NSBL was fortunate to have one of its playing stars become one of its top men in blue.
For nearly 20 years Lynn native Chris Hagerty was one of the most dominant pitchers in the NSBL. “Big Hags” led his teams to multiple postseason appearances and almost singlehandedly pitched the Lynn A’s into the 2001 championship series. In the early 1990’s Chris won the deciding game of the Westerly Invitational Tournament championship when the Lynn A’s competed against top amateur teams from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Chris accumulated over 100 pitching wins throughout his NSBL career. Chris, who also played first base and later filled the role of designated hitter for A’s, established himself as a true leader both in the dugout and on the diamond with a “one-for-all-and-all-for-one attitude”. He was known as one of the best “big game” pitchers of his era, who also could decide a game with a prodigious blast.
Jeff January is one of the most respected players the NSBL has ever known. A tremendous receiver behind the plate and a supreme hitter from the right side, “J.J.” was the team captain for the numerous championships the Swampscott Sox captured. As a fearsome clean-up hitter, Jeff did just what he was penciled into the order to do: clear the bases by driving the ball into the gaps or launching a game-changing tape-measure shot. The Swampscott native blasted many long balls during his decade-long career with the Sox, helping establish the team as a perennial champion. Jeff annually led the Sox in homeruns and runs batted in. Defensively, Jeff was the ultimate workhorse behind the dish, displaying textbook blocking skills, eliminating base runners with a cannon-like arm and flawlessly handling the Sox staff. Jeff produced an outstanding collegiate career when he starred for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Jeff will also be honored tonight with the NSBL’s first ever Umpire of the Year Award as voted upon by the league’s current team managers.
In his prime, Kyle Leavitt was a dynamic centerfielder who was a legitimate five-tool player. Kyle’s top seasons playing in the NSBL occurred while he was starring for the Marblehead Yachtsmen. Throughout his NSBL career, which was plagued by nagging injuries, Kyle was well known for his outstanding speed which enabled him to beat out infield grounders, steal bases and leg out doubles and triples. While patrolling historic Seaside Park’s centerfield, Kyle’s quickness, tracking ability and sure-handed glove work would amaze fans, his teammates and opponents with electrifying uphill catches and bullet-like throws to nail base runners and snuff out potential rallies. Offensively, Kyle was a force whether he batted first or fourth in the order. As a leadoff hitter his speed started rallies, and when penciled in as a clean-up batter he had the ability to drive the ball out of the park. The Peabody native and former Salem State College star concluded his NSBL career by helping the Peabody Whips capture the league title in his final year. He and his brother and fellow inductee Larry, helped the Yachtsmen win titles in 1982 and 1984.
Undoubtedly, Larry Leavitt was one of the top pitchers in the NSBL during his decade long career with the Marblehead Yachtsmen. Larry concluded his NSBL playing days helping his hometown Peabody Whips club capture a championship. During his Yachtsmen years, Larry served as the team’s number one starter, chewing up innings and posting many victories in the process. Larry was counted upon to lead the way, and that he did. The side-winding righty kept opposing hitters off balance by mixing a variety of pitches and consistently hitting his spots. Many times after facing Larry in a tight situation, a hitter would head back to his bench shaking his head after taking a third strike or chopping a dribbler to end a potential rally. Larry helped the Yachtsmen capture league championships in 1982 and 1984. Similar to his brother and fellow inductee Kyle, Larry also starred on the diamond for Salem State College.
Standing 5 feet 7 inches and 255 lbs. it was hard to miss Bruce Doig on the baseball diamond. He was an obvious threat who could hit for average as well. Bruce’s power hitting was on full display during his career having hit several long home runs out of Cooney Field in Beverly, which had not been done very often. Dating back to his teenage years Bruce had one tape measure shot marked at 637 feet which was clearly the longest ever in Beverly High history.
Despite his claim of never winning a stolen base title, Bruce was fast enough and talented enough to play football at Villanova University after starring for the Beverly High football, baseball, and basketball teams. His accomplishments earned him an induction into the Beverly High Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.
Bruce began his legendary NSBL run with the Beverly Recs in 1977 after graduation from high school. He patrolled both first and third base and also pitched for the Recs twice leading them to the NSBL finals versus the Peabody Whips. From 1981 to 1984 Bruce took the reins as player/manager for Beverly and later added the title of NSBL Secretary from 1982 to 1984.
Since 2003 Bruce has been the Recreation Director for the City of Beverly and shares this great NSBL honor with his wife Janet and children Chris, Nick and Kayla. Congratulations on a great career and a well deserved induction!
Tom Donovan played in the NSBL from 1970 to 1980. He was a temendous shortstop from Peabody High School Class of ’72 and one of many graduates of that class to play Division 1 Baseball. He played 2 years with the University of Maine Black Bears during their glory days and finished his collegiate career at Salem State where he captained the team. In the NSBL Tom played for the Peabody Recs which was the precursor to Murphy’s Whips fielding players like John Tudor, Steve Kooshkalis, Dave Bettencourt and other NSBL legends. Tom had great range along with a tremendous arm. He hit for power and average consistently for 10 years. Tom led the Peabody Recs to 2 NSBL titles during that decade when coached by Tony Porcello who was a player coach.
Bob Johnson’s NSBL career spanned across 3 decades from the mid 1980s to 2001. His early years in the league were with Salem. From there, he anchored the lineup for the Peabody Whips for the next 7 or 8 seasons during their title years. Bob finished his playing days for Todd Cotton and the Lynn Brickyard “When the fences seemed to get a little farther and the home runs fewer and further apart.” In Bob’s next to last year in the league he homered at Swampscott marking having homered in every park in the league.
Bob played his college baseball at Salem State for Ken Perrone. It got him back into the game as he did not play in high school. Those years playing at Salem State led him to the NSBL. Bob’s neighbor at the time was Ed Schaejbe who was running the Salem team. They talked baseball and Bob’s love for the game was stronger than ever… the rest is history.
Bob’s goal every year was to have more homeruns than strikeouts and he was successful on more than one occasion. Considering a 30+ game season, including playoffs, a hitter will get about 100 at bats this accomplishment is even more impressive Bob’s approach at teh plate was simple… put the ball in play and run like crazy! An infielder by trade, he would occasionally play the outfield. He never claimed to be a defensive specialist, but always strived to be good enough to keep his bat in the lineup. Bob was always looking to take an extra base or steal a base. He enjoyed running the bases and putting pressure on the defense.
Since 1994 Bob Johnson has been umpiring area baseball games. For the past 8 years he has umpired NSBL games. Bob says “It’s a great way to keep in touch with the game and the people in the NSBL.”
Joe Rizzo was a fixture at third base for the Saugus Braves from their inception, leading Saugus all time in home runs, RBI’s hits and games played. “Rizz” was by far the best right handed hitter in Braves history. Joe was always a threat at the plate in the cleanup spot and was the primary power threat even as a 40 year old. He was one of the few players who gave the Braves credibility early on. Among Joe’s highlights was hitting a game winning 3 run home run at Fraser Field in the 2009 NSBL All-Star Game. He hit at least one HR in 15 of the 16 years he played. His defense was solid and featured many highlight plays throughout his stellar career. The transition from Stackpole to World Series Park as a welcome move for Joe after years of playing 3rd in a tough infield. Joe was instrumental in the transition of Saugus from a team that finished near the bottom of the standings to a team that made the playoffs and the Stan Musial Tornament for the first time in 2006. Rizz led by example with his great work ethic. He was a leader for the team on and off the field. Joe always knew what to say and when to say it. Everyone on the team would give their undivided attention when Joe was speaking. He is one of the most respected players in the NSBL. Hoe was a big part of the core which attracted the talent on the roster today. When you think of the Saugus Braves you will always think of Joe Rizzo.
Angelo Salustri joined the Swampscott Sox (formerly known as the Swampscott St. Johns) in 1985, their inaugural season in the NSBL. Angelo had just finished a stellar collegiate career at UMass Amherst where he was a 2 time ALl New England Division 1 All Star. Angelo was the starting shortstop at UMass for 3 seasons and upon his graduation he held or was a leader in many of their all time offensive categories. Angelo was the main reason that Swampscott was able to capture the NSBL championship in their 1st year as he was the prototypical number 3 hitter and shortstop… hitting for power and average and depicting poetry in motion when playing up the middle. Angelo was also a dominant force on the mound with his repertoire of pitches and pinpoint accuracy. Angelo did leave the NSBL for a few years as he pursued his professional baseball career in Italy, where he of course was the MVP of the league. Upon his return to the state Angelo was a fixture in Swampscott’s lineup for well over 20 season and was the main reason that the Swampscott teams have realized so much success over the last 3 decades. Angelo certainly exemplified a leader. He led by his actions and his professional approach to baseball. Angelo garnered the respect of teammates, opposition, and fans throughout the NSBL, all the while never wavering from his cool, calm, collected demeanor. Angelo Salustri was the best teammate that anyone could ever imagine. Angelo’s name was always at the top of the list when conversations arise regarding the best players to have ever played in the NSBL.