A sad day for Northborough baseball


By Jim Furlong

A sad day for Northborough baseballIt's a Saturday morning in April. Spring is settling in, and if you drive by Memorial Field, you are likely to see three men. Sean Durkin, Craig Murphy and Chet Leonard; these three men have been involved in Northborough Baseball for over 20 years. While most of us are out running errands, or carting our kids around to various activities, these men can be found working on the fields, coaching or umping a game.

About 10 years back, while Algonquin was being renovated, the high school team practiced and played their games at Memorial Field. Craig Murphy could be found there every day, working at the field and getting it ready for the team. He received no awards or accolades. Memorial Field has always been one of the nicest fields in Central Massachusetts due to his efforts. Other towns love playing there. A couple years ago, when Tahanto High School lost their fields due to construction, they asked Craig Murphy if a couple of their home games could be played there. They chose Memorial.

Unfortunately, a couple of men on the Northborough Baseball Association board don's care for Mr. Murphy's hard work and years of service. They have recently changed the locks to the equipment shed and refuse to give him a key. In addition, they have taken his name off the account at Rocky's ACE Hardware. He will not be able to purchase the flowers he plants every Memorial Day in front of the American flag, to honor those who fought for our country. The president is also trying to have Mr. Murphy removed as a patched MUABA umpire for Northborough. I guess the president of Northborough Baseball is not interested in Bipartisanship at the baseball level.

A sad day for Northborough Baseball.

Chet Leonard is one of the nicest men I have met down at Memorial Field. Chet played baseball for Algonquin, and it is said he still holds the record for best batting average in a season. Mr. Leonard can be found at the Little League field keeping the book, or on the bench assisting Coach Wright and Coach Durkin at a Senior Babe Ruth game. You want to talk baseball? You see Mr. Leonard. You want to have someone give your son or daughter an uplifting word of encouragement? You see Mr. Leonard. Mr. Leonard's sons are all grown up, but you will still find him down at the field every Saturday and Sunday.? Mr. Leonard was one of the people that sat at the Legion Hall the other night, waiting for the baseball meeting to start, not knowing it was already underway at the library.

A sad day for Northborough Baseball.

I will never forget the time my son was in a game against Marlborough at the Babe Ruth level. Mr. Durkin was the coach. There was a boy for Marlborough who ran slower than myself. He hit a ball to the right field, and Mr. Durkin hollered to get it to second base. The player in right could have easily thrown the boy out at first base. For every other kid, on both teams, it was an easy single. But this boy really struggled to get down to first. His team cheered and the boy had a smile on his face from ear to ear. The Northborough players came off the field and asked Coach Durkin, “Why didn's you yell to go to first?” Coach quickly replied,”That's not a baseball play.” It took me a moment to realize what he had done, and why. Coach Durkin does not fool with a young man's self esteem and confidence to win a baseball game played by boys no older than 15. I was also at the field the day a former player pulled in and asked Coach Durkin for some help with a situation at home. Coach seeing the serious nature of the visit asked me to step away temporarily. They engaged in a lengthy conversation and 15 minutes later the young man left with a big smile on his face. ?This type of coaching of our young men shows itself all the time with Coach Durkin. But don's get the wrong idea; I have never met anyone more competitive than Coach Durkin. Just ask the six-foot-six, 34-year old he guards in basketball every Thursday night at the Town Hall basketball league. ?You can's point at a single project at Memorial Field that Coach Durkin was not a part of. From the lights at Casey, batting cages at Memorial, both scoreboards etc. etc., in my 16 years in town I have not seen anyone who does more than Coach Durkin. Yet, a few individuals in the Northborough Baseball Association have decided Coach Durkin should no longer serve as board member. They wouldn's even give him the opportunity to defend his position.

A sad day for Northborough Baseball.

On Tuesday night, a small group of Northborough men voted Sean Durkin, “The Face of Northborough Baseball”, off the baseball board. It's not so much the vote out that is upsetting, but in the way the president of Northborough Baseball did it. Baseball meetings have been held on the last Monday of the month for longer than I can remember at the Legion Hall in Northborough. But, this meeting was the annual meeting where officers for the next year are voted. The time and location were changed due to a work conflict; the president of Northborough Baseball would be out of town. So, he changed it. Sean Durkin, the vice president of Northborough Baseball, had a planning board meeting the same night. He asked for the meeting to be postponed an additional day or two. The president of Northborough Baseball would not extend the same consideration he gave himself and accommodate Mr. Durkin. They brought in a group of young coaches, and for most, it was their first time ever attending a Baseball Association meeting. They voted Sean Durkin off the board. Some older members of the Baseball community, and even one of the Board Members, sat at the Legion wondering if the date for the meeting had been changed. Meanwhile, this new group was underway at the library.

Is this how we treat the men who have done so much for baseball, the fields, and most importantly our kids?

I ask all of you who know the character of Mr. Durkin, or whoever has a child coached by him, to weigh in. Please contact the Northborough Baseball Association's president and tell him how you feel. This is not how we treat people in our community. They definitely need to be reminded.

To Mr. Leonard, Mr. Murphy, and Coach Durkin: I hope to continue seeing you working tirelessly for our kids and community at Memorial Field and I thank you for your service.