By Jean DePlacido
---- — Two local residents played key roles in helping the New England Women’s Red Sox baseball team win the 2012 Roy Hobbs World Series last month. Bob Anderson from Beverly served as bench coach/pitching coach while pitcher/outfielder Janet Miller, who grew up in Swampscott is the captain and a senior member.
The women on the team range all the way from the youngest at age 13 to 48-years old. Over Memorial Day weekend they won a tournament in Maryland, and capped the season by taking the championship in Fort Myers, Florida. A year ago the Red Sox made it all the way to the World Series finals before losing to a team from Chicago.
This time it was all Red Sox, all the time at the World Series in Fort Meyers at Hammond Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins, and the Red Sox spring training site at Jet Blue Stadium.
The Sox finished with a perfect 6-0 record. They blanked Team Toronto, 13-0 in the opener and then knocked off the Seattle Damonds by the same score. Chicago Storm fell, 12-1 followed by the East Coast Yankees, 12-5. In the semifinals the Red Sox blew out the New York team again, 9-1 before winning the championship game against Chicago, 4-1.
Anderson played baseball at Beverly High, North Shore Community College and Westfield State. He was bench coach at Mass Bay Community College, former vice president of Beverly Babe Ruth and coached AAU ball for the Silver Hawks. He is now involved with the new Chiefs program. Anderson pitches and plays first base for the Newton Red Sox, an over 30 men’s team.
“There are not that many women baseball players,” he said. “Over half the women on our team play for Team USA, the women’s World Cup squad, that placed second in Toronto. They disbanded the women’s league so many players keep sharp by playing softball while Lily Jacobson and Janet Miller play in a men’s baseball league.”
Miller and Jacobson are the two Massachusetts players on the roster. Others hail from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, New York, and North Carolina. The team comes together a few times a year to take part in one of the big holiday weekend tournaments at various locations.
“We try to get there a day or two early so we can all practice together,” said Anderson. “It’s a tough situation, but every other team is in the same boat. I absolutely love working with the women. I coach 16-and-Over boys, too and have been giving pitching lessons for years. The boys want a reason for everything you tell them while the women can’t do it fast enough.
“That’s the biggest difference, and the women have fun. As much as they want to win, they realize it’s a game. They are very serious about playing well, but they also know how to enjoy themselves. This is my second year being involved with the Red Sox. My boss, Kevin Marden, is the owner and sponsor, and asked me to help out.”
Miller has had a storied career. She played softball at Swampscott High then made the UMass Amherst team as a walk-on. Before her junior year she transferred to Salem State where she played in 1985 and ‘86. She has been with the NE Red Sox since the program’s inception in 2004 and prior to that was a member of the Lady Spirit women’s baseball team under coach Ken Perrone.
“Christina Burrill, who was also from Salem State, asked Spirit owner Nick Lopardo if we could play at Fraser Field,” said Miller. “It was almost like playing at Fenway Park. We went to the Roy Hobbs World Series in 2003 and won it. The following year Kerry Lomasters persuaded Kevin Marden to sponsor a team. We had six baseball players and six softball players, who had never played baseball before. That first year (2004) went down to Florida and won the tournament by beating our friends on Lady Spirit.”
Miller has been on six consecutive World Series champion teams from 2004 through 2009. There was no tournament in 2010, but the following year the NE Red Sox lost to Chicago Pioneers in the finals with an injury decimated squad.
“We’ve won every tournament we ever went to except three, Our record is 140-plus wins and just nine losses in the eight years we’ve been together,” said Miller. “We got beat by a little stud from California, who threw a one-hitter against us. She has a major league slider, and is now on scholarship pitching for the men’s baseball team at Moncrief College in North Carolina.”
Miller, who now lives in Bedford, said as the team’s winning reputation grew more and more players want to be on the team. She has played in the men’s over 30 MSBL since 1995 and will start her 18th year in the spring.
“We’ve started getting younger and better every year because all the best players want to be on our team,” said Miller. “My place on the totem pole is slipping, but the last couple of years I’ve gone through a resurgence. I think it’s because I appreciate the opportunity I have and don’t know how much longer it will last.
“My dream as a kid was to be a baseball player, and I’ve never stopped loving it. I still enjoy playing as much as ever and I’m not thinking about retiring any time soon.”