The packages arrived just two weeks ago. Once again, Jeff Hoffman '81 decided to mail his fellow teammates a hat from the championship DeMatha baseball team of 1981.
"This is the third time I have done it. I did in 2001, then 2006, and now 2021," Jeff said yesterday from Orlando, FL, where he is the General Manager WKMG TV. "The hat keeps the spirit of our team alive," he said. "It was probably the best time any of us had ever had."
That point is echoed by Steve Miller '81, now the present varsity baseball coach at DeMatha. Miller, who once played at the AAA level, said the '81 season was "the most fun I ever had playing baseball." The squad had chemistry for sure and lost but one game all season. The team was inducted into the DeMatha Hall of Fame two years ago.
The coach was Bill McGregor, who admittedly was more of a football coach than a baseball coach, but still wound up winning four league titles in six years in his time as the varsity skipper.
"Bill was an unbelievable motivator," said Steve Morusiewicz '81. "He always wanted us to keep improving."
Of course, McGregor was wise enough to have baseball people helping him -- first Pat O'Connell '71 and then Vince Kerley '69. For a number of years, McGregor also had Mike Reynolds '66 assist the squad. Reynolds was well known for his special fungo bat and hitting 100 mph practice ground balls that whizzed across the then dirt infield at Riverdale Field.
One of the themes in the present popular TV show ‘Ted Lasso’ is that a good coach can coach almost any sport, even if his or her specialty may lie in another area. (People sometimes forget that Morgan Wootten was a very good football coach at DeMatha for 13 years). The key, it seems. is bringing the team together and getting everyone to believe in themselves. The members of the '81 team certainly believed.
"Bill McGregor had the ability to relate to us as young men," Morusiewicz said. "And we knew that he enjoyed coaching us."
The various members of the '81 team recently posted pictures of themselves on social media wearing the latest '81 hat, including Deno Campbell '81, the defensive coordinator of the football team.
Two years ago, Morusiewicz got jackets for the '81 team. Who knows what Hoffman will do 10 years from now? For now, the members of the famed team have a new memento to serve as a reminder of the sandlot days of their youth.