Over a long career of teaching and coaching at Haddam-Killingworth High School, I have many pleasant memories. I coached swimming and diving for 34 years there and baseball for 12 years. During 11 of those 12 years of coaching baseball, I was the head coach of the middle school team.
My most memorable year was 1982, when the team went 13-1. Westport Little League manager Tim Rogers was one of five 7th graders on that team. His brother, Rich, who was a year older, was also on that team. Hall of Fame Coach Mark Brookes' son, Sean, was also part of that team. Another member of that team was Killingworth's Jeff Bagwell--future major league star for the Houston Astros. It was quite a talented team.
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I had the great pleasure of talking to the Coginchaug Little League team earlier this summer before their semi-final game with South Windsor. I had been invited to talk to the team because I had been part of the 1965 Windsor Locks Little League World Championship team. Plus, I had lived on Foothills Rd. in Durham for 7 years. Little did I know that Coginchaug would lose the state championship finals to a team coached by one of my former students and athletes-- Tim Rogers.
I was getting ready for a 15 day vacation in Italy when Coginchaug played Westport, so I wasn't able to attend the games. However, I did see that the name of the Westport manager was a guy named Tim Rogers. It did cross my mind that maybe this was the Tim Rogers that I once knew, but I quickly dismissed that idea. It was in Italy through the Internet that I finally realized that the Westport coach was the kid that I had in Junior English and that I had coached in middle school. It was a tremendous thrill for me to see Tim's team do so well.
I was hoping that they would beat California and then go on to the world championship game on Sunday. I wondered if in Little League history anything like this had occurred-- a coach and a former player both winning the world championship. The thought was appealing, but the Westport kids lost to a good California team. It was the second year in a row that a California team had defeated a Connecticut team twice in the tournament to eliminate them.
When I played, the little league all-star tournament was single elimination--lose and you go home. You had to have two outstanding pitchers to get deep in the tournament. We had two of the best--Mike Roche and Billy Boardman--whose combined ERA for all-star competition was 0.66. Both pitched nothing but complete games. We won 13 games to become world champions; now, you have to win about twice as many as that. We used wooden bats, as metal bats emerged in 1971 as the norm in Little League competition. The media coverage back then was mainly through newspapers. Our final was televised on a tape-delayed basis by ABC World Of Sports on ABC with Jim McKay and Jackie Robinson announcing. We got to meet Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle as well. It was quite a thrill. I was hoping that Tim's team would make to the championship game as well and experience what I had, but it wasn't to be.