A Tribute to The Juice…

Honoring Coach Dube, August 4th, 2012

Just about thirty minutes prior to the grand gathering at Mountain Brook Road in Sturbridge, MA, I was still at home, contemplating the afternoon ahead, wondering who in their right mind would attend such a strange, surreal, and ‘ancient history’ event.

This gathering was in honor of the 35th anniversary of Tantasqua winning the State Championship in baseball. We already had a 30 Year reunion, and after a passage of five years, I did have reservations about how many folk would indeed partake in this latest extravaganza.

As it turned out, not many. But those that did had a wonderful time, as Mike Dube and his lovely wife, Catherine, put on a splendid affair, replete with fine foods, a tent, plenty of beer, and great ambiance.

The photo above was taken from the 1977 yearbook, the year we won the championship. My brother Jim was a star pitcher on the team, and I was the catcher to his extraordinary repertoire of pitches. Others who attended were, Beth, our scorekeeper and comrade in every game, and it was great to have her there. Nick and his wife, Paula; ‘Kip’ as he was known, or Brian;  Dan and his wife, Amber; John and his wife, Vicki, and their daughter Zoe; my brother Jim and his wife, Edna, and their son Jimmy; Bob, and a late edition to the party, Hutch, an old friend who I haven’t seen in all these intervening years. Rounding out the cast one cannot leave out Coach Al Walker, a pillar of calm and strength during all those trying playoff games. The Matthews were there too, enjoying the pleasing environs, and the entire affair was one of camaraderie and comfort.

But this blog is about the man, Coach Dube, The Juice. It is about his tenacity, his drive, his vision and dream, his belief in a scraggly bedraggled bunch of ballplayers that we could, actually, become…Champions!

This was Dube’s very first year as Varsity baseball coach, and he took us on quite a ride. Right into the finals and a fantastic win in North Adams. It was quite a heady experience for all of us, and we were thrilled and excited to be the best of the best.

And the only reason we were number one was because of this man. He believed in us; he knew we had talent; he instilled in us the drive to never quit, to keep going, to believe in our abilities. And we did it.

So this tiny gathering of people, with only a smattering of former players in attendance, sat there on this perfectly comfortable and inviting summer afternoon, and reminisced upon those former glory days.

Amongst the food and beverages and conversations, there was a ‘connect’, a wonderful bonding between all who partook in this festive cookout, this group of folk three decades + later, all laughing and telling stories and having a fine time.

And it was all made possible by our coach, a man who still loves his ballplayers, a man who cherishes that spectacular moment of sheer elation, of joy, of excitement, and what better way to honor such a heroic year of sports than to once again indulge our spirits in all things grand and fabulous.

Even though not too many people deigned to show, it did turn out to be an unforgettable afternoon. Coach Dube, with his love and drive and indomitable soul still loves his boys of summer, allowing one and all to come relax, have a good time, and enjoy each others’ company.

To you, Coach, may many more years of health and happiness be yours, and to your lovely bride, Catherine.

I think we can all thank you, not only for these past gatherings, but for instilling the power and intensity that you brought to the game and to our own collective spirit. I, for one, am very grateful.
Thank you, Coach. We all love you!

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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