LOWELL, Mass. -- Tuesday’s 2-1 extra inning loss meant the end of the storied career of North Reading coach Frank Carey.
After 47 years coaching the varsity, he is retiring as the all-time winningest coach in Massachusetts high school baseball history with 736 career wins.
“I’m at ease with (retirement),” he said following the loss. “I honestly didn’t know if we were going to make the tournament. We had a lot of kids that had to play up and a lot of kids that had to make big improvement from last summer. I kept telling them that we have to wait for that perfect game and today was about as close as the perfect game and I can’t think of a better place and time to do it than a game of this magnitude.”
His teams won 25 league titles, three Eastern Mass titles, five North sectional championships, and two state titles. His most recent state championship came in 2012 when North Reading won Division 3. Not bad for someone who started his career as a science teacher in 1964 and began coaching varsity baseball in 1968.
North Reading had an opportunity to keep its season alive in the top of the eighth. A walk and two singles loaded the bases with no outs. Ryan Sanborn lined out to third, then Angelo DiSanto was picked off third by Bellingham catcher Michael Ryan. Scott Allan grounded out to third to strand two runners.
Ryan led off the bottom of the inning with a double to deep left. After a sacrifice bunt moved him over to third, Allan balked in the losing run to end the game.
Carey is the first to tell anyone that the players make the program. When the game was over, he encouraged his players to keep their heads up and shake Bellingham’s hands. As noble in defeat as he is in victory, Carey never missed an opportunity to teach a player a lesson regardless of how tough the situation is.
“I’m going to miss the kids,” he said. “I missed the kids when I stopped teaching. There’s some days where it’s a little challenging, but I’ll really miss the camaraderie, dealing with the kids, the give and take. The regimen of practice and hopefully within the regimen of practice, there’s certain lessons we learn. There’s some things there that go beyond the baseball field.”
Carey’s successor has not been named yet. Whoever it ends up being will have a large legacy to live up to.
“There’s no regrets, not on my part and not on the players’ part,” he said. “It was a terrific year. From a personal standpoint, it can’t get any better than retiring on a sectional championship.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do next year,” he added. “I know one thing: I won’t be coaching.”