Walpole High School announced long-time assistant Chris Costello to be its new head baseball coach Wednesday.
He takes over the position previously held by legendary coach Bill Tompkins, who retired at the end of last season after 37 years at the helm.
“I really wasn’t expecting a decision today, but needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to see (athletic director) Ron Dowd come out to football practice and give me the news,” Costello said. “Obviously it was something that has been on my short list of lifetime goals. It was exciting.”
Costello pitched at Walpole from 1987-1990 before starting a six-year minor league career with the Dodgers and Red Sox. He returned to the school in 1996 and became Tompkins’ assistant coach for 19 years. He learned a lot from the legendary coach over the years, but one thing stood out above the rest.
“The singular thing I’ve learned over the years from Coach Tompkins is the importance of every kid involved in the program,” he said. “Kids play high school sports for a million different reasons and as a head coach and potential mentor for these guys, it’s important that we can deliver what it is they are looking for. Coach seemed to have the knack to do that, whether it was the All-Scholastic Division 1 player or the kid who keeps the book for us. The experience he was able to provide was a positive one for them, so to try and emulate that is going to be the goal for me.”
Costello saw firsthand how consistent Tompkins and his teams were over the years. Tompkins retired with 561 wins at a school that played more than half his tenure at the Division 1 level. Last year’s team finished 14-9 and made the Division 1 South sectional semifinals. Upholding the standard set before him has created a level of self-expectation for Costello.
“Tradition is super important and vitally important to our potential success,” said the new coach. “Walpole athletics in general are build and progressed on tradition. The tradition that Coach has established here is a strong one. He was consistent in every facet of what he did in terms of coaching, the way he handled kids, coaching, parents, everything was consistent from day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year. He had a formula, it worked. It worked to the success of hundreds and hundreds of players from Walpole High.”