25 July 2008
After a Year’s Delay, Day’s Coaching
Is Key to Orleans Cardinals’ Success
ORLEANS, Mass. – Larry Day had just sat down to have dinner with Orleans manager Kelly Nicholson in mid-June 2007. Day was set to make his debut as the Cardinals’ bench coach in just a few days -- until a phone call put it on hold.
During their dinner, Day received a call from the New York Yankees informing him that he had been selected in the 50th round of the amateur draft. If he accepted their offer, he was to report to Tampa, Fla., the next day.
“It was kind of bittersweet,” said Nicholson. “But I said, ‘Larry, you’ve got to go, man. It’s the New York Yankees’.”
Day, a native of Amesbury, Mass., attended St. John’s Prep before going on to star at the University of Connecticut. He was a four-year starter and two-time captain at UConn, hitting a career .297. In 2006, he played for Orleans, batting .141 in 27 games at catcher.
During his stint with the Yankees organization, Day picked up all aspects of catching from players and coaches.
“I caught (Andy) Pettitte, (Mike) Mussina, Joba (Chamberlain), (Kei) Igawa and all those guys. Being around those guys and learning from Jorge Posada and Tony Pena (Yankees’ catching coach) was huge,” Day continued. “I didn’t have the talent to take me to the top, but I was learning it and absorbing it, and now it’s my job to portray it to young catchers.”
After a year with the Gulf Coast Yankees, Day said goodbye to pro ball and returned to Orleans, where he made his coaching debut on June 14 in a 5-2 win over Yarmouth-Dennis.
What Day learned playing professionally he has seamlessly passed on to second- year catchers Travis Tartamella (Pepperdine) and Hampton Tignor (Florida).
“I’d be surprised if there is a better tandem of catchers in the league,” said Day. “If you look at a stat sheet and you see wild pitches, you might think it is a reflection of a pitcher, but really it’s not. It’s a reflection of the catcher in terms of how many balls they can block.”
Through July 16, Orleans hurlers had thrown just 13 wild pitches with Tartamella or Tignor working behind the plate, which is the lowest total in the league. On June 18. Tartamella threw out eacj of the five Harwich baserunners who attempted to steal, playing a major role in the Cardinals’ 13-inning, 3-2 victory.
During the month of July, the Cardinals have turned their season around after a 6-7 start, which had them stuck in fourth place in the Eastern Division. Orleans remains been the league’s hottest team and appears to have a lock on first place with just two weeks of action remaining.
“One of the reasons they are playing so well is because of his (Day’s) direct influence, said Nicholson. “I’ve learned more about catching in the four weeks from him than I have in my coaching career. His knowledge seems infinite. He’s an extremely good coach for someone so young.”
At the tender age of 23, Day has posted an impressive resume. “What more could I have asked for? As my career progressed, all my dreams came true. I played in the Cape League. I played professional baseball and now I’m pursuing another achievable dream of becoming a successful baseball coach.”
Phil Garceau, CCBL Intern ([email protected])
Interns: Chris Blake, James Chandley, Ashley Crosby, Phil Garceau, Stefanie Marini, Laura Rasmussen