Roger Day has been coaching baseball at Danvers High for 25 years.
With an impressive 392-171 record, he will take his rightful place in the Massachusetts High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame next month. Although his induction was a no-brainer, Day was officially nominated to the hall by Frank Carey, who has put together an even more impressive run as the baseball coach at North Reading High.
Last month, the 69-year-old Carey was inducted into the National High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Day was stunned to find out that Carey has been the coach at North Reading for 47 years, with a dazzling mark of 697-270.
“Frank was the coach when I was playing for Ipswich High,” recalled Day, now 57. “He was already a legend back then. He’s still the best there is.”
Carey guided North Reading to the Division 3 state title, his fifth overall, last spring, and was named the New England and national high school coach of the year for his efforts. The national hall of fame honor topped off his amazing year. “The triple crown,” he calls it.
Carey, who has also won the Cape Ann League crown 25 times, is thinking about retiring in two or three years, when a new high school is expected to open.
“This will be my 48th year; 49 or 50 might be the perfect time to wrap it up,’’ he said. “New school, new coach, new everything.”
He knows it’ll be hard to break away from the building where his beloved batting cages — known as “the bunker’’ — are nestled in the basement, and where big leaguers John Tudor, Dwight Evans, Bob Stanley, Bill Buckner and others used to work out.
A Lynn native, Carey was a teammate of Tony Conigliaro at St. Mary’s High. Conigliaro’s career with the Red Sox was shortened after being hit in the head with a pitch. When he died in 1990, Carey was a pallbearer.
Carey is recuperating after having right knee replacement surgery.
“I’ll be able to hit fungoes to my left fielder now,” he said. “I couldn’t bend my knee far enough to do that before. Sometimes I’d fall. I have no excuse now.”
His early life in Lynn had a rough-and-tumble element.
“I lived next to a bowling alley and pool room. Those were my indoor sports.’’ He won money at pool. “You could say I was a hustler,” he said. Carey tried boxing — $10 if he won, $8 if he lost. “I didn’t win too many,” he added.
Wrestling was more lucrative. He got $25. One night his match was at the high school. “I think the kids wanted to see me thrown out of the ring,” he said.
“Frank’s a force of nature,” said Pete Hill, a catcher for Carey on two state championship teams in the late 1960s. “He’s a baseball godfather. He relishes in taking care of kids, helping them find jobs and get in college.”
Roger Day has coached more than one sport over the years at different high schools.
He’s the offensive coordinator for the football team at Beverly High, which defeated Natick in the Division 2A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium early this month. Day held the same position at Danvers High from 1999 to 2005, when he stepped aside so he could watch his son, Brian, play hockey for Colgate.
“I’d leave school at 1:55 and get at the rink four hours and 40 minutes later, just in time for the face-off. I did that for four years.”
Day started coaching baseball and football as an undergraduate at the University of Maine.
At Danvers, his baseball teams have won the Northeastern Conference titles 12 of the last 14 years. The Panthers had a run of 66 consecutive conference victories and were nationally ranked. He has been the conference’s coach of the year 13 times, and was the District 1 national coach of the year in 2006. The Panthers were Division 2 state champs in 2001.
“He’s a taskmaster; he wants things done right,” said Danvers athletic director Jon Sullivan. “Every practice is mapped out to the second. And you can’t come if your hat’s on crooked.”
“We’re going to play the Danvers way,’’ Day said. “Discipline and fundamentals. Our kids are going to be tough. We’re going to be as aggressive as can be, with a football mentality. It’s a lot easier now because the younger kids learn from the older ones.”
Sullivan said Day is a great guy to be around.
“Kids he’s tutored in baseball for free are all over the place,” said Sullivan. “He runs programs — it could be floor hockey — before he goes to practice.’’
Day is leaving his physical education job in the Danvers system next month, and will seek another full-time position. “I’ll still coach at Danvers, unless it conflicts with the job I get.’’
His hall of fame induction is Jan. 26 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Westborough. “It’s an absolute honor,” said Day, “but it’s a reflection of our program. Danvers baseball.”