Baseball has become part of Danvers’ town fabric over the last quarter-century — and one of the biggest reasons for that is long time head coach Roger Day.
Next month, Day will be enshrined in the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony in Westborough on Jan. 26.
It’s a well-deserved honor for a coach with 392 career wins, a Division 2 state title in 2001, 21 playoff appearances and 12 Northeastern Conference titles in the last 14 years.
“It is an honor, but its also a credit to Danvers baseball. All the players we’ve had, all the coaches, all the players that have come back and coached,” said Day.
Day was The Salem News Coach of the Year in 2011, has numerous Northeastern Conference Coach of the Year honors and was District 1 National High School Coach of the Year in 2006. He led Danvers to the state title in 2001, a state final appearance in 1999, unbeaten regular seasons in 1999 and 2000 and a record 66-game winning streak in NEC league games from 1999-2002.
“He’s a winner. He knows what it takes,” said Brian Marshall, a player for Day (DHS Class of 2000) who also has been an assistant coach under his mentor.
“Coach is meticulous. He makes his team the most prepared team on the field no matter who they play in the state. The level of preparation gives you the sense that you can beat anyone.”
Day’s relentless attention to detail has been a fixture on North Shore baseball diamonds for years. His affinity for manufacturing runs has been as well, with his Falcons apt to execute a play in any situation and adopting the mantra that it’s your job as a baserunner to score once you get on.
The 57-year-old Day said loyal assistant Bob Boyce was a big part of the nomination process, helping gather up the statistics and history needed.
Since 1999 alone, Danvers baseball teams have won 15 games in a season 13 times.
“It’s one of those things you never realize because you’re so focused on winning that next game, who’s going to pitch and that sort of thing,” said Day. “Even when we had the winning streak, I never really knew what the records were because I’m so wrapped up in the day-to-day.
“It’s really incredible when you start adding it up for something like this.”
As with any great coach, Day always has his finger on the pulse of his team. He knows when to press his squads and when to back off, and always knows how to get his team refocused. One of the hallmarks of Danvers baseball is that they’re always peaking in the second half of the season.
“He puts us in position to play our best baseball in May,” said Marshall, who played his college baseball at Southern Maine. “He doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but he takes talented people to that next level. It’s the attention to detail on a daily basis — not a lot of people have the time to pay that much attention ... or the coach who can pull it off.”
For Day, the success of the Danvers baseball program is a credit to the entire town. Packed crowds at Falcons’ games at the Twi Field are a fixture under the lights in the spring.
“How well the field is maintained, the great setting at the Twi with the music and the concession stand, it’s all a credit to the town,” said Day. “I’ve had coaches tell me it’s one of the best settings in the state to come out and watch a game.”
A graduate of Ipswich High School, Day has also been an assistant football coach for years. He recently helped Beverly High win two Super Bowls in the last three years as offensive coordinator, and prior to that was on Danvers athletic director John Sullivan’s football staff when he was head coach.
Legendary Ipswich football coach Jack Welch is one of Day’s biggest influences in terms of coaching.
“I learned so much from him as a player: how to work, how to treat officials. He was a great X’s and O’s guy and great with people,” said Day. “He knew how to lose and how to win. I think we’ve always handled losing the right way, too, and that’s something I learned from Jack at an early age.”
Longtime friend and Beverly High head baseball coach Dave Wilbur has also been a big influence, said Day. “We’re very similar from a baseball standpoint,” he acknowledged. “Dave and I have spent a lot of time talking baseball, going to clinics, and just competing and enjoying the game.”
‘It’s all of Danvers baseball’
While Day’s attention to detail may make him seem like a taskmaster at times, his methods are always for the benefit of his players and the program.
“It’s amazing to look back on it. You don’t realize until you’re done how much respect you have for the program,” said Marshall. “It’s incredible how much I’ve learned from coach Day.”
Among Day’s biggest accomplishments is the culture of the team and the Falcons’ ability to know how to win and how to execute.
“It’s been nice to get the tradition back. John McGrath established a well-respected program back in the 1960s and 70s, then they went through some tough times,” said Day.
“Recognition like this is for all the players that started back in ’87 and ’88 and the 90s and those guys that have been winning for the last 14 years. It’s all of Danvers baseball.”
Newton North’s Joe Siciliano, Franklin’s Peter Pasquarosa and East Bridgewater’s Patrick Cronin are also being inducted with Day as the MBCA’s Hall of Fame Class of 2013.