The heartfelt recollections of many of his current and former ballplayers indicated that Sharon resident and Canton A’s coach Kee Arguimbau was a deserving recipient of the 2013 Cranberry League Manager of the Year.
Arguimbau, the volunteer coach of the collegiate summer baseball team for the past five seasons, was selected for the honor after he molded his squad this season into a cohesive unit that reached the Cranberry League title game.
“It was nice. I was overwhelmed by it,” said Arguimbau, 33. “I know what kind of coaches are in the league, and to be considered the Manager of the Year meant something considering the history of the league.”
A’s pitcher and former Sharon High School standout David Roberto said, “I think that Kee definitely deserved the award. He was a great coach, and really turned a group of individuals into a contending team.”
Arguimbau also serves as the assistant coach of the Sharon High varsity team. Eagles Head Coach Joel Peckham asked Arguimbau to be his right-hand man nine years ago. Peckham had coached Arguimbau in high school (SHS ’98); the righthander was a workhorse on the mound in his Eagle playing days.
“Once I realized that you can’t play forever, I figured I’d better find some other capacity to be involved in it,” Arguimbau said. “Coach Peckham asking me to be his assistant was one of the most instrumental things that has happened.”
Arguimbau says that Peckham has been his foremost coaching influence. After spending nine seasons with Peckham, while his coaching style in some ways mirrors that of the 400+ win club member, it differs in other regards.
One of the most vital messages that Arguimbau frequently shares with his players is the requisite to put forth an extra effort to succeed in baseball and in life.
“I try to instill in my players that this not some sort of game that you can just show up and think that you’re going to have success. You have to have a work ethic and a respect for the game – or whatever you’re doing – and you’ll do it to the best of your ability,” Arguimbau said.
Arguimbau says that there are many similarities between his English classroom at Sharon High and the baseball diamond, with regards to the opportunity to positively influence his students/ballplayers.
“Life lessons – things that they’re going to remember well past the classroom/baseball field That’s why I do it – not so much for the W’s as it is to teach things that will serve kids a lot longer than the immediate task at hand,” Arguimbau said.
The man who Peckham calls “the best assistant coach in Massachusetts” has succeeded in impacting many Eagle ballplayers.
Jake Fishman, a recent Sharon High graduate and stalwart southpaw pitcher, who will be playing for Union College next spring, said, “Coach A. has taught me so much on and off the field.
“Whether it was teaching me to bear down and hit one last spot to get a batter out or a personal issue, he is always there to give the best advice you can get,” Fishman added.
Roberto says that as his pitching coach at Sharon High from 2010-2011, Arguimbau was a “big influence” in his approach as a pitcher, helping the lefthander earn a baseball scholarship to St. Louis University.
Eric Lesser, a shortstop on this past year’s Sharon squad, noted Arguimbau’s positive nature. “He can relate to us players as well as any coach I've ever played for,” Lesser said.
Brad Kaufman ‘13 played for Arguimbau since his sophomore year, when Arguimbau discussed repeatedly with him the mentality needed to acclimate to varsity baseball. Kaufman says that Arguimbau connects uniquely to each of his players.
“He would talk to me before I went up to bat and tell me to think of certain things he knew would help me when I was at the plate. It was the only thing that could get me that first hit to end a slump,” Kaufman said.
David Zabinsky, who played for Arguimbau in high school and pitches for Bowdoin College and the Futures League’s Brockton Rox, says that Arguimbau encouraged him to cherish each opportunity to play baseball.
“I remember my senior year, he said to us, ‘Don't take this moment for granted, because you're going to want it back for the rest of your lives.’ He was absolutely correct,” Zabinsky said.
As a self-described fiery competitor, Colin Gray ’13 says that Arguimbau guided him to channel that energy in a more positive direction. “My junior year, I was frustrated with playing time and playing under older teammates.
“He took me aside and told me I would get my chance, and I ended up working harder and earning the starting spot for our playoff game,” Gray said.
Arguimbau’s realistic perception and expectations would help keep the team at an even-keel regardless of the situation in the season, recalls Denny Poliferno, a 2009 Eagle captain.
“He’d say, ‘Alright, this is where we are, this is what we need to do. You need to keep playing. This a new game, you need to focus on what’s happening now. Just play your best.’ It wasn’t super inspirational or depressing, but it was practical, and it worked for what we needed to do,” Poliferno said.
Arguimbau says that his favorite players to coach have been those who, in addition to devoting themselves to improving at baseball, have been unafraid to approach matters in their own unique ways.
“They don’t necessarily go with the status quo; they march to their own drummer. I’ve always respected people who aren’t afraid to stray from the norm,” Arguimbau said.
Arguimbau says that he continually gains appreciation for the sport of baseball. “There’s never a time when you can’t learn something from the game. In all of the seasons I’ve had under my belt, I’ve gained more respect for the game of baseball and how much there is to it – how hard of a game it is to play,” he said.
Baseball is a cornerstone of the coach’s annual post-winter routine. “I love the game. It’s part of the changing of seasons for me; it’s not so much that I look forward to the flowers budding as I do hitting pop flies in the outfield at Sharon High. It’s ingrained in my yearly cycle to be there,” Arguimbau said.
As for the 2013 A’s, Canton finished 15-9, advancing to the Cranberry League finals before falling to Braintree at Rockland Stadium on July 27. Roberto (3-1, 1.11 ERA) was one of two A’s named to the All-CBL first team.
Roberto credited Arguimbau with having confidence in him to perform on the mound this summer. “I did not play at school this year [as a sophomore] and was not able to stay in the prime pitching state I needed to be.
“I worked up to it, and Kee gave me that opportunity. Once I had my confidence and form back, I felt my dominance return, which helped the team win games,” Roberto added.
Away from the diamond, Roberto says that he and Arguimbau contemplated Roberto’s future endeavors on numerous occasions. Arguimbau helped Roberto choose the path of focusing on early childhood education as an undergraduate.
Arguimbau says that with the Cranberry season concluding, his baseball focus turns towards preparing for the 2014 Sharon season.
Next spring will mark the end of an era of Eagles baseball that stretches back into the 1960s, as Peckham says that he will retire from the Sharon head coaching position following the season.
As to whether he’d desire to be the Eagles’ head coach in 2015, succeeding Peckham, a MA Baseball Coaches Assn. Hall-of-Famer, Arguimbau says that he has “obviously” thought about the possibility of filling that position.
“That’d be an honor,” Arguimbau said. “Anybody who comes up behind Coach Peckham is going to have one heck of a task ahead of him. I’d love to.
“But I try not to look too far ahead. I’ve still got one more season with him, and that’s the main thing I’m looking forward to - our upcoming season. [It’s] his last, which I hope to be as positive of one as we’ve always had,” Arguimbau added.
Nathan Pedersen, who played at Sharon High for the past three seasons, said of Arguimbau, “There're just way too many good things to say about him.
A. is one of those guys you really hope to grow up to be like,” Pedersen added.
“He rarely yells and always smiles - that's a guy you look up to, someone who
always makes you smile.”