LAST MONTH, colleague Roger Brown wrote the following in a State of Sports column: “You could argue that when (Cody) Morissette and (Ben) Malgeri were juniors (at Exeter High School), they were part of the most talented high school baseball team in New Hampshire history.”
OK, says Manchester’s Ron Beaurivage, let’s argue.
“I don’t want to take ANYTHING away from that (2017) Exeter team, especially Cody Morissette, who is an outstanding athlete,” said Beaurivage last week. “But I don’t think you can find a high school with three kids in the same class drafted.”
That high school was Manchester Memorial. The years were 1970 and 1971. Beaurivage, 68 and now retired after career in insurance, was one-third of a Class of ’71 troika that in their junior and senior seasons lifted the Crusaders to consecutive state baseball title in the state’s highest division. The others were Mike Flanagan and Scott Thompson.
The Crusaders beat Berlin 4-0 for the Class L crown in 1970 and topped Nashua 8-0 for the 1971 title.
Flanagan pitched the 1970 title-winner. A year later, with Flanagan’s arm hurting, Beaurivage pitched the semifinal, and sophomore Tommy Kathan pitched the final. Flanagan homered twice and Beaurivage went deep, too, off the red barn at Keene’s Alumni Field.
“Flanagan and I were being recruited by UMass, so the recruiter was happy with what he saw,” remembers Beaurivage.
Beaurivage was a pitcher/first baseman, Flanagan a pitcher/center fielder and Thompson was a shortstop/third baseman. All three were drafted while they were in high school, Flanagan (15th round) by Houston, Beaurivage (17th round) by the Mets and Thompson (25th round) by Detroit. Flanagan and Beaurivage were eventually redrafted while in college, Flanagan after his sophomore year (seventh round, by Baltimore), Beaurivage after his junior year (17th round again, by Oakland).
Flanagan, who passed away in 2011, starred at UMass then went on to win 167 games in the major leagues, a Cy Young Award and a World Series ring with the Orioles. Thompson, who signed right out of high school, played rookie ball. Beaurivage also starred at UMass, then played four years of pro ball, in Lewiston, Idaho, Burlington, Iowa (Single-A), then Birmingham, Ala., and Chattanooga, Tenn. (Double-A).
Meanwhile, the team he was trying to make, the Oakland A’s, were winning World Series championships.
“Back in those days, that was (Reggie) Jackson, (Sal) Bando, (Joe) Rudi, Catfish (Hunter) — and that was no good for me,” Beaurivage chuckles.
Beaurivage and Thompson, who owns his own courier service, have remained best friends. Beaurivage this summer returned to help coach Sweeney Post’s American Legion team — his fourth different decade helping to coach the program.
He continues to follow the exploits of local ballplayers, especially great ones like Exeter’s Morissette, who played for a team with seven players who committed to Division I colleges: Morissette (Boston College), Malgeri (Holy Cross), Kyle Ball (Stetson), Kyle Maurice (UMass Lowell), Tom Polhemus (Army), Bobby Cliche (Maine) and Brady Green (Northeastern).
Morissette last month was drafted in the second round by the Miami Marlins. Malgeri went in the 18th round to Detroit.
But Beaurivage stands by the Crusaders, he says, and at the very least, it’s a great discussion. Plus, he says, that Crusaders trio all starred in basketball, too, helping Memorial to win back-to-back state titles.
Um, just like Morissette did with the Blue Hawks in 2017 and 2018.
Let the argument continue, I say.
Elsewhere around the fields and rinks ...
• Tanner Kirwer on Thursday became the seventh New Hampshire Fisher Cat to hit an inside-the-park home run, the sixth Fisher Cat to accomplish the feat at Delta Dental Stadium.
Kirwer, a speedster, blasted one off the left-field fence, just to the right of the Hannaford sign. The ball deflected sideways on the warning track — off the body of Binghamton left fielder Carlos Cortes — and center fielder Jake Mangum fell down, allowing Kirwer to scoot all the way around.
While we’re talking about baseball draft picks, Kirwer was a 20th rounder in 2017. He’s a Canadian (province of Alberta), and he crossed the border to play at Niagara University.
• Repeated stick taps for ex-Hanover resident Hilary Knight, who last Tuesday became the all-time goals leader in women’s hockey world championship history by potting her 45th. And the point was her 78th, tying Cammi Granato for first on that list, too. The U.S. beat Russia that night, 6-0, but lost to Canada on Thursday, 5-1.
• UNH added three players to its men’s hockey roster recently, including goalie David Fessenden, a transfer from Alabama-Huntsville, which recently discontinued operations because it doesn’t have a conference to play in. Fessenden, who is 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds, made 20 starts over two years. He posted a 2.93 goals-against average in 16 starts last season.
The other two new Wildcats are junior forward Harrison Blaisdell, a transfer from North Dakota, and freshman forward Liam Devlin from Needham, Mass. If the name Blaisdell rings a bell, it may be because his dad, Mike, played nine seasons in the NHL.
• Speaking of Wildcats, coach Marc Hubbard’s always-talented men’s soccer team opened the season with a 2-0 win at Boston U. on Thursday night. UNH, ranked 20th nationally, continues to recruit international players, such as first-year midfielder Johann von Knebel (a grad student from Hamburg, Germany), who scored Thursday’s insurance goal. The first was scored by Tola Showunmi, of Enfield, England, a transfer from Merrimack College. The Wildcats held BU to no shots on goal. They play their home opener today against Hubbard’s alma mater, Colgate, at 5 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.
• Danton Barto, who coached the af2 (arena league football) Manchester Wolves for two years, died last week. Barto, 50, died of complications from COVID-19. He was not vaccinated, according to his wife’s Facebook post.
Barto coached the Wolves in 2008 and 2009. They made the playoffs both seasons, and Barto took them to the conference final in his first year. Average attendance at the SNHU Arena (then the Verizon Wireless Arena) was 5,936 in 2008, 4,772 the next year. The Wolves suspended operations in 2009.
• Team Police beat Team Fire in the Aug. 20 CHaD Battle of the Badges baseball game, and Team Police also won the fundraising battle, by $2,200. Ed Shaughnessy of Sunapee Police led all players in raising $6,240. In total, $111,000 was raised for children’s programs. Great job to all who helped the cause.