06/06/2006 3:33 PM
6 June 2006
Cape League Special
Flaherty & Son’s Cape League Connection
Continues To Flourish In 2006
HARWICH - In a young boy’s childhood, playing catch with his father on the front lawn every summer is lodged in his memory forever. Some remember the smell of the leather glove, or the feeling of the weathered ball in their hands.
But most importantly, they remember and cherish the everlasting father-son bond that was formed over the game itself.
Best-selling author Michael Lewis believes, “The sentimentality of baseball is very deeply rooted in the American baseball fan. It is the one sport that is transmitted from fathers to sons.”
With the celebration of Father’s Day on the horizon, it is a time to reflect on all that fathers have given us, and on past memories shared. For one father and son duo, the upcoming holiday may serve to be more special as this son follows in his father’s footsteps.
Baseball has always been an important component in the Flaherty household. Ed Flaherty, now entering his 21st season as head coach of the baseball program at the University of Southern Maine, made his debut playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Chatham A’s during the summer of 1975.
An outstanding left-handed hitter for the University of Maine at Orono Black Bear team that advanced to the College World Series, Ed followed in the footsteps of his high school mentor, “Fearless” Fred Harlow at Deering High School in Portland, Maine, and the legendary John Winkin at U. Maine into the coaching ranks.
Having received numerous awards throughout the Northeast, and having been inducted into the American Baseball Coach’s Association Hall of Fame, Coach Flaherty is a man who has grown comfortable in his role as head coach of the Huskies.
Al Bean, currently Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Southern Maine, not only played against Flaherty during high school and college, but the ended up coaching with him at Southern Maine.
When asked about Coach Flaherty’s abilities to teach his players, Bean stated, “He is a great teacher, a fundamentalist, and he is able to break the game down. He is an extremely knowledgeable coach, with high expectations, and certainly hates to lose.”
Fortunately, losing has not been a common theme for the Huskies since Coach Flaherty entered the locker room doors 20 years ago. He has accumulated a striking 594-255-3 record and led his team to two NCAA Division III National Championships.
“His kids learn a lot more than just how to play baseball. They grow, mature, and learn the difference between right and wrong when in the hands of Coach Flaherty,” Bean stated. “His teams have always been very competitive and very proud.”
Meanwhile, as the pressure for a championship grew for the elder Flaherty at the recent NCAA Division III New England Regional in Harwich, Ed’s son Ryan Flaherty stepped to the plate down in Nashville, Tenn. Ryan concluded his freshman year as the shortstop for the Vanderbilt University Commodores with a .345 batting average, second highest on the team.
Coach Tim Corbin of the Commodores believes that “Ryan can play shortstop as well as some other infield positions. He had a very good fall defensively and has a chance to be a good hitter. He is working on getting stronger, which will help him develop as a player.”
Now that the college baseball season has ended, Ryan will migrate north to the Cape Cod Baseball League as did his father 30 years ago. The younger Flaherty will play for the Hyannis Mets.
As Ryan developed as a college player, his father kept close watch. During the NCAA Tournament at the end of May at Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Coach Flaherty would slip away in between games to watch the Commodores take on South Carolina via the live Web broadcast. Coach Flaherty is just as invested in bringing his own team to victory as he is in his son’s baseball career.
Between a father who is a standout coach and a son who is beginning to come into his own as a force in the game, people might assume there would be an excessive amount of pressure put on Ryan to succeed in the world of baseball due to his father’s achievements. But Coach Flaherty disagrees.
“I have always put the carrot out for him to bite on, but I don’t push it,” said Flaherty. “Ryan has always come around on his own, without the extra help from me.”
And Ryan has certainly come around on his own. Entering his sophomore year at Vanderbilt this fall, Ryan will continue to blaze his own trail, with the enduring support of his father.
Who knows what this upcoming summer will bring for Ryan Flaherty as he embarks on a new journey with the Hyannis Mets. But what is known is that he has an accomplished father to rely upon throughout his future baseball endeavors – one who has conquered the hardships of the sport itself, but ultimately managed to come out on top as a coach, mentor, and a father.
By Lauren Malone, CCBL Intern [email protected]