Tag: baylock

Andy Baylock, Local Coaching Legend

Andy Baylock is a teacher, mentor and role model for athletes throughout Connecticut and beyond. He is best known for his prolific career as the former head coach of University of Connecticut’s baseball program. Baylock’s story began in New Britain where he was born on June 22, 1938. As a native of the Hardware City, he played catcher for New Britain High School’s 1955 state championship team. Baylock graduated from Central Connecticut State University where he was a 4-year letterwinner and captain for the baseball and football teams.

1972 UConn Baseball Team
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1973.
Andy Baylock named Head Coach of UConn Baseball, 1973.

During his college years, Baylock played summer ball in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League, earning league titles with the Hamilton Standard and Riley Redlegs teams. Then he attended the University of Michigan where he earned a Master’s degree in 1962. Baylock served as a graduate assistant coach with the Michigan Wolverines baseball and football teams. Next, he returned home to Connecticut to East Catholic of Manchester as a schoolteacher and football coach. During this time, Baylock also played professional football for the Springfield Acorns in the Atlantic Coast Football League.

1973 UConn Baseball Team

In 1963, Baylock was hired as UConn’s freshman baseball coach. He joined the Husky staff on a full-time basis a year later as assistant football and baseball coach. During the summer of 1971, Baylock also became assistant coach of the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod Baseball League. By 1973, he was appointed head coach of the Commodores, taking over from Bill Livesey. Baylock was UConn’s assistant baseball coach for 15 years under the tutelage of head coach Larry Panciera. From 1964 to 1979, Baylock helped the Huskies to the College World Series in 1965, 1972 and 1979. He has also sat on the faculty of the department of kinesiology at UConn.

Andy Baylock, UConn Baseball Head Coach, 1978.

Baylock became head coach of UConn Baseball in 1980, a post he held for 24 years. He compiled a 556-492-8 record, won two Big East championships and earned three NCAA tournament berths. He also had an active international coaching career as a pitching coach for the 1985 and 1989 U.S. Senior National Teams. In 1992, Coach Baylock was named Big East Coach of the Year. Under Baylock, players such as Charles Nagy, Pete Walker, Jesse Carlson, Jason Grabowski, Jeff Fulchino, Brian Esposito, Scott Burrell, Brian Specyalski and Brett Burnham matriculated to professional baseball.

1989 UConn Baseball Team
1989 UConn Baseball Team

In 1996, Baylock was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, 1 of 8 Hall of Fames in which he has been enshrined. Others inductions included the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame and New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association Hall of Fame. Baylock retired as UConn’s head baseball coach in May 2003. The University of Connecticut retired his uniform number (28) at a banquet in 2004. Nearly 600 attended the event at the Aqua Turf in Southington, Connecticut.

Brian Specyalski and Andy Baylock, Team USA Baseball, 1989.
Baylock interviewed by the Hartford Courant, 1990.

“If you took part in athletics, you know how it taught you to discipline yourself, to operate under a pre-arranged system of rules and regulations. You know athletics taught you democratic principles of equality, team spirit, the willingness to work in order to win and sacrifice for the same purpose. You will know that athletics taught you decision making, humility and that they gave you someone extra to talk to—your coach.”

-Andy Baylock

Andy Baylock, Head Coach, UConn Huskies Baseball, 1998.
Andy Baylock, Head Coach, UConn Huskies Baseball, 1998.

Coach Baylock has served as UConn’s Director of Football Alumni and Community Affairs since 2002. In his role, he cultivates relationships with Husky football alumni and various members of the national football community. Baylock serves as the team’s liaison both to professional scouts and Connecticut high school coaches. He also assists the team’s departing seniors with career networking, represents UConn at various speaking engagements and organizes community service projects.

2001 UConn Baseball Team

Coach Baylock rejoined the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League as Vice President in 2016. He’s been a source of steady wisdom and encouragement for the league. Up until the the COVID-19 pandemic, he was a perennial batting practice pitcher for the Connecticut Tigers of the New York–Penn League. Coach Baylock is said to have a rubber arm and as recently as 2019, at the age of 81 years old, he was throwing batting practice to hitters at Dodd Stadium in Norwich.

Baylock interviewed by the Hartford Courant, 2005.
Baylock pitching at Dodd Stadium for the Connecticut Tigers, 2016.
Andy Baylock and Bill Holowaty, 2018.
Andy Baylock with Jim Penders after surpassing Baylock for most wins, 2019.

A few months ago, Andy Baylock appeared in a documentary film, Far From Home: The Steve Dalkowski Story by Thomas Chiapetta. Baylock was Dalkowski’s catcher and friend while growing up in New Britain. Baylock now resides in Mansfield, Connecticut. He and his late wife, Barbara, are the parents of three children, Jennifer, Jeffrey and Andrea, all of whom attended UConn. He also has six grandchildren. Here’s to Coach Baylock; a local sports legend who’s spent a lifetime teaching student student-athletes, guiding young adults and selflessly serving others.

At 80, Andy Baylock is still throwing batting practice.

Twi-Loop Holds Winter Meeting

League officials prepare for 2019 season.

GHTBL Managers and Executive Committee members met at our winter meeting in East Hartford on a Sunday, January 13th. 

In attendance were Tyler Repoli and Ryan Pandolfi of Rainbow Graphics, Jack Ceppetelli of the Vernon Orioles, Chris Kehoe (Treasurer) and Taylor Kosakowski of the East Hartford Jets, Wes Ulbrich (Secretary) of Ulbrich Steel, Ron Pizzanello of the South Windsor Phillies, Tom Abbruzzese of People’s United Bank, Christian Budzik of Malloves Jewelers and Charlie Hesseltine of the Record-Journal Expos. Bill Holowaty (President) and Andy Baylock (Vice President) presided.

Preparations were made for the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament on Sunday, April 28th at Blackledge Country Club in Hebron, CT.

President Holowaty led talks on team rosters, recruiting, ballparks, umpires, league finances, recent donations, By-laws, and alumni.

The Executive Committee projects a well-organized and improved 2019 season featuring 8 strong franchises. 

Enjoy the off-season, work out and stay warm!

President Holowaty Featured by Hartford Courant

Jeff Jacobs: Hall of Fame Coach Holowaty fights illness and gives back.

By Jeff Jacobs – Contact Reporter

The calls had been coming for a few years, and Bill Holowaty couldn’t say yes. His baseball spirit was willing. His body wasn’t.

Holowaty won four national championships and 1,404 games before he stepped down in 2013 after 45 years as coach at Eastern Connecticut. Becoming president of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League seemed perfect for a septuagenarian with baseball in his DNA, baseball in his blood.

The problem was this: Holowaty’s DNA isn’t the same. His blood type isn’t the same.

That’s what happens with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. That’s what happens when your body that had carried you through the third most victories in Division III history no longer could make enough healthy blood cells. In short, Holowaty had bone marrow failure and needed a stem cell transplant last June 23 that changed his DNA and blood type from O to A. Otherwise, he wasn’t going to be around for long.

“I’m celebrating my first birthday,” Holowaty said recently. “June 23, my new birthday.”

Fortunately, Type A loves baseball, too.

So Holowaty said yes this past winter to becoming president of the GHTBL, the amateur wood-bat league now in its 88th year. Over the decades, it is a league that has produced a large number of major leaguers, including 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Bagwell. It also is a league that has had to fight softball, other baseball leagues and the evolution of modern sports interest to keep its place on the map.

Bill Holowaty, GHTBL President talks about his coaching career and leading the GHTBL, 2017.

The first thing Holowaty did was bring together the managers for a couple of meetings at his house.

“I was extremely impressed with their enthusiasm and their desire to make the league better,” Holowaty said. “I needed that. They motivated me. Look, I’m not going to change the world and make it the best league in the United States, etc. I told them I’ll try to help. I just love to watch baseball and see it played the right way.”

Holowaty, who played basketball at UConn, played for Wally Widholm on the playoff champion Hamilton Standard team in the summer of 1966. His sons played in the GHTBL, too.

“Wally taught me how to win, how to play the game of baseball,” Holowaty said. “Later on, my son came to me and he said, ‘Dad, I played in wood-bat leagues and played all over the place. I had my best experience playing for Gene Johnson this past summer.’ Winning was important, not showing off. I loved that.”

There was no way Holowaty could do this by himself. He surrounded himself with a strong executive committee that includes vice presidents Bill DePascale, Ed Slegeski and former UConn coach Andy Baylock.

“I’ve known Billy forever, since the ’60s,” said Baylock, who played two summers in the GHTBL. “He has had a lot health problems, but this is something he can put his heart into. He called and asked me to be a vice president. I said, ‘Billy, will this make you happy if I join?’ He said yes. I told him, ‘I’ll be with you.’ Gene Johnson, who was such a mainstay in the league, died [in November 2014] and I felt this would be a good way to give back to the league and Gene.”

The two state baseball legends obviously add recognition to the league. Yet it had to be more than that.

There is nothing worse, Holowaty said, than playing on a lousy field. Trinity College has a beautiful new facility. The league secured it for the playoffs. The teams are going to play throughout July 9 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Holowaty, convinced the job of running a team is too big for one guy, wants each team to have a general manager. There were a couple of new teams added this year. There were sponsorships found. Holowaty also wants each team to have a mentor or two. On opening day, Holowaty and Baylock talked to the players about playing the game smart, aggressively, hustling, showing up on time. Little things that can become big things, like coaches wearing protective helmets at first and third base.

They’ve gone to games at various sites.

“Not to be a cop,” Baylock said, “but to try to make sure things look good.”

“We’re not out there second-guessing managers,” Holowaty said. “But a lot of great players have played in the league over nearly 90 years. I don’t want a beer league. Baseball is one of the hardest games to teach and play. We’ve got a good league and want to make it better, a nice, competitive league where the guys enjoy themselves and learn the right way to play.”

Those words came over the phone from Omaha a couple of weekends ago. He was out there for the College World Series. Holowaty is on the board of the American Baseball Coaches Association, its past president. This was a big trip for Holowaty.

Andy Baylock, GHTBL Vice President.

“I couldn’t go on an airplane for a year, or go out to eat,” he said. “I had to wear a mask and gloves on the plane. The doctor told me I could go but have to be careful. My daughter [Jennifer] came with me to give my wife [Jan] four days’ vacation.

“My wife has been taking care of me. Thank God for her.”

In 2015, he was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. It was in August of that year that Holowaty, after undergoing knee surgery, was told his blood cell counts had been dropping. He consulted a hematologist. He would have a bone marrow test late in 2015. Holowaty would need a stem cell transplant or else — to use his words — “I wasn’t going to be around long, maybe a year.” With plans to spend the winter in Florida, he would go to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. There he began his treatment before returning to Connecticut.

A match in Germany, a young man, was found for Holowaty. On June 17, 2016, he went to the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston. For nearly a week he underwent chemotherapy for six hours a day to kill his old blood cells. The stem cells were flown overnight from Germany and the next day, June 23, Holowaty was receiving a transplant.

There would be more chemo. The fight has been hard. His immune system had to start from scratch. He must be ultra-careful to avoid germs, mold, etc., thus the gloves and the mask.

Holowaty went through his problems like he was reading a lineup card. He had pneumonia. A blood vessel broke when he had a lung biopsy. He had some blood clots in his legs and lung that took months to be rid of. His heart went out of rhythm. He had an aneurysm in his stomach. The man always was a tough coach and now, physically, mentally, spiritually, he has been called on to be even tougher.

Andy Baylock and Bill Holowaty

Jan drives Bill up to Boston once or twice a week.

“They take my blood and see where I am with red and white blood cells,” Holowaty said. “You get new blood. The remaining old blood tries to fight off the new blood.

“You feel good. You want to feel good. You just can’t feel good. You go to bed, get a night’s sleep and wake up tired. I’ll feel great and then last week I had a hard time walking across the room. It’s exhausting. It’s not painful. I’m fighting it. I could never do this alone.”

He has found a source of inspiration in his former ECSU assistant coach Ron Jones.

“Ron has had the same thing,” Holowaty said. “He started calling me up and telling me how to prepare myself, helping me get through this. Here’s the thing — he has called me every day since last June. We just talked today. He has had a tough time. Last October, he had pacemaker put in, and he’s doing well now.

“Think about that. He calls me every single day.”

That’s what great baseball guys do. They take care of each other.

Holwaty paused for a second on the phone.

“The Twilight League,” he said softly, “this is my way of giving back to the game I love.”

Bill Holowaty, ECSU baseball coach for 45 years, is now heading up the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League.

Andy Baylock Named GHTBL Vice President

Baylock returns to the Twilight League to lead by example.

Former UConn Baseball Head Coach, Andy Baylock has been named to the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League Executive Committee as Vice President.  Baylock’s appointment adds another legendary Connecticut baseball coach to the league.  He will work with President Bill Holowaty and the GHTBL Executive Committee to recruit and develop local ballplayers of the highest amateur caliber.  

“Andy Baseball” as he is known in some circles, was a catcher in the Hartford Twilight for the 1960 and 1961 Hamilton Standard teams.  Baylock’s vast baseball experience and established reputation will add another invaluable guiding hand for the GHTBL in 2017.

1961 Hamilton Standard, GHTBL

Baylock is best known for his 24 year reign as UConn Huskies head baseball coach. At UConn, he moulded future major league pitchers: Charles Nagy, Roberto Hernandez, and Pete Walker.  He began his Huskies career as an assistant baseball coach in 1964, earning the head coaching position in 1980.  

In 1987, Baylock won the Jack Butterfield Award given by the New England Association of College Baseball Coaches for dedication to collegiate baseball.  He guided the Huskies to Big East Championships in 1990 and 1994, along with a trio of College Word Series berths.  Baylock retired from coaching in May of 2003 after posting a 556-492-8 career record.  At the time of his retirement, he had personally coached 1,447 of the 2,327 games (62.2%) in UConn baseball history.  

L to R: Walt Dropo, Andy Baylock and Larry Panciera, 1983.

As a lifelong son of Connecticut, Baylock grew up in New Britain as a talented baseball and football player. A 1960 graduate of Central Connecticut State University, He captained the baseball and football teams and received the Gladstone Award; CCSU’s highest scholar-athlete award and was later inducted into the Central Connecticut Hall of Fame in 1981. After graduating from CCSU, his career took him beyond the Connecticut’s borders to the University of Michigan where Baylock earned his master’s degree and as a graduate assistant football and baseball coach. 

In 1962, Baylock returned home to become the head football coach for East Catholic High School in Manchester.  He then enjoyed a successful stint as a professional football player with the Springfield Acorns of the Atlantic Coast Professional Football League from 1963 to 1965.  Baylock was later honored with induction into the East Catholic High School Hall of Fame. 

Andy Baylock, 1986.

In 1997, Baylock was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame.  In the spring of 2008, Baylock received awards for his outstanding contribution from both the Connecticut High School Coaches Association and the National Football Foundation’s Southeastern Connecticut Chapter. 

Nowadays, Baylock is in his 14th year as the UConn football program’s Director of Football Alumni and Community Affairs.  Baylock serves as the team’s liaison both to professional scouts and the Connecticut high school coaches. 

Over the years, Baylock has been honored by several athletic organizations, including his January 1996 induction into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, one of the seven Hall of Fames in which he has been enshrined.  Baylock has been selected as the 2011 recipient of the ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award, the highest bestowed by the ABCA.  

Baylock has also been active on the international baseball scene as a distinguished pitching clinician, including serving as pitching coach for the 1985, 1988 and 1989 USA national teams and the Dutch national team in 1999. During this time, he coached players such as Matt Williams, Mike McFarland, Jack McDowell, Kevin Brown, Alex Fernandez, Chuck Knoblauch, Mo Vaughn, Jeremy Burnitz and Joe Girardi.  Throughout the 90’s, Baylock spent five summers a veteran pitching coach in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.

USA Baseball, 1990.

In 1991, he was awarded the Baseball Service Award by the New York Professional Baseball Committee.  He has also been recognized by the University of Connecticut with bestowals of the Albert Jorgensen Athletic Award given by the Alumni Association and the UConn Club Outstanding Contribution Award.  Baylock was awarded the 1985 Gold Key from the Connecticut Sportswriters’ Alliance for his many years of service to Connecticut athletics.  In 2002, sportswriters presented the veteran skipper with the Outstanding Contribution to New England Baseball Award. 

Adding to his accolades, Baylock served as chairman of the Division I Baseball Committee for the ABCA and was the chair of the Division I All-America Selection Committee.  He is a past member of the NCAA Pro-Sport Liaison Committee.  Baylock was the President of the BIG EAST Baseball Coaches’ Association and a member of the Executive Council of the New England Baseball Coaches’ Association.

Baylock’s knowledge of baseball traces back to a truly unique experience, as a state championship catcher with the New Britain High School Hurricanes in 1955.  There he caught the mythical left-hander Steve Dalkowski, who in baseball lore, is believed by many to have thrown harder than anyone who ever lived.  

Today, Baylock serves in an advisory capacity as batting practice pitcher for the Connecticut Tigers of the Atlantic League.  Baylock has been a fixture at Dodd Stadium for the last two decades.  He has thrown batting practice to some of the best who ever played for the Norwich Navigators, Connecticut Defenders, and Connecticut Tigers.  

Andy Baylock, 2016.

Baylock has said that Nick Johnson was the best hitter he ever saw come through, but 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner was his favorite.  “I love that kid,” Baylock once said of Baumgarner.  “And he could hit, because he was always sneaking up in the batting cage asking for another 50 or 60 swings when nobody was looking.”

Andy Baylock knows dedication to baseball.  His coaching philosophy has fostered the development of hundreds of great players on and off the field.  “You have to be fun to be around,” Baylock has said about ballplayers.  “Its one of my basic things.  Be good people, be dependable, be accountable, be responsible, be caring, be loyal, be self-disciplined, be respectful.” The GHTBL is grateful and honored to have Andy Baylock back in the league to help lead us to many more years of success.