Sharon High Baseball Coach Enters Hall on 0-2 Pitch
Joel Peckham gets the nod Saturday.
Longtime Sharon High School varsity baseball coach Joel Peckham's latest victory came on an 0-2 pitch.
Peckham will be inducted into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Saturday night -- after the first two times he was nominated failed to connect with hall voters.
After missing the first two times, "I said, 'That's it. I'm never going to get in,'" Peckham says.
"I'm not so egotistical that I don't believe there are not a lot of other qualified people out there," he said during a recent interview at the Sharon High athletic department office.
"There are plenty of qualified coaches who have had far better success at the state level than we have.
"But I'm proud of it. I've given my life to baseball (including as a former catcher). I'm in the Tufts Hall of Fame. I'm in the Winchester Hall of Fame, in high school. But this is special because I know how much I've put into it, and I feel like I've fone a lot for the kids. So now it's a recognition. It's not just about wins and losses."
The ceremony is at 6 p.m. Saturday at the DoubleTree Hotel in Westborough. A reception in the hotel foyer will be held from 5 to 6 p.m.
Peckham is 424-391 over his 40 years at Sharon, according to the association's website. Over that stretch, Peckham's teams have won two Hockomock League titles and qualified for the state tournament 21 times.
Last season, Sharon finished 15-5, earning the fourth seed in the MIAA Baseball South Division 2 bracket and receiving a first-round bye. Plymouth North won the semifinal, 4-1.
Peckham is among four Hall of Fame inductees in this year's class -- including longtime rival, Oliver Ames head coach Leo Duggan.
Needham head coach John Freitas and Tahanto Regional head coach Neil Greenwald round out the group.
How did you become Sharon's varsity baseball coach?
I graduated from Tufts in 1962. I was a captain of the Tufts baseball team. I went to Northeastern to get my master's in English.
I interviewed in three different places -- two in Connecticut, and Sharon. I came to Sharon. I had my master's in English. I said, "Is there a baseball opening?" Because I could've gone to Connecticut and coached basketball.
Dud Davenport had coached (Sharon baseball) the year before, and he didn't want to do it anymore. So when I came, I got the job.
Do you remember anything about that first year?
I remember the kids on that team were incredible kids.
There was a kid named Louie Ianelli, who was one of my captains. He was a left-handed first baseman.
How has the league changed over your career?
When we came into it my first year, Randolph was still a part of the league. And then Randolph left and North Attleboro came in.
How have you changed as a coach?
I think I'm a little quieter.
People think I'm a little crazy. I think I was a little crazier then. I was still playing; I played in the Park League for three years when I first came down here.
I'm still intense. That's the way I learned to play.
Speaking of intense, I would imagine you and Leo have had some good games over the years.
Leo's a great guy. We go way back. We coached football against each other, and he's been the varsity baseball coach for quite a while. He's been blessed with unbelievable talent. So when we go over there, it's a battle. We play them tough, but we haven't beaten them too often very recently.
How long do you think you're going to coach?
I'm definitely going to coach for the next three years. Because my grandson (Drew Maidment) will be a senior. He'll play JV this year, but he's got a chance to play his junior and senior year.
He's a good catcher.
I can't wait. He's a good kid.