Steven Walsh is in his 18th season in the Yawkey League, a longtime association with the semi-pro baseball league that started after his graduation from East Boston High School.
Walsh is still doing what he did best for EBHS coaches Donnie DiLorenzo and Phil Brangiforte in his three-year All-Star career as a Jet: hitting the ball exceptionally well and helping his team win.
Walsh, now 37 and playing for the Brighton Braves, celebrated an impressive milestone in a July 25 Yawkey League game against the McKay Club at Rogers Park in Brighton. The 6-foot, right-handed batter produced the 300th hit of his Yawkey League career. For the record, Walsh adroitly placed a hard-hit grounder between the third baseman and shortstop for a single. McKay Club Manager and league President Emeritus Dave McKay presented Walsh with the game ball while players on both teams applauded.
The moment was particularly emotional for Walsh, who wasn’t sure he’d be able to continue his baseball career following a devastating knee injury that he sustained in a skiing accident six years ago.
“I missed the entire 2013 season because of the skiing accident,” said Walsh. “I had to have surgery to repair three ligaments (ACL, MCL, and LCL).”
After several months of rehabilitation, he was able to return for the 2014 campaign.
His Love of the Game Was Built Early On
Walsh was introduced to baseball in the East Boston Little League where his talent was recognized early. He was an All-Star in the Minor and Major Division, playing two years for the Williamsport team.
His father, Paul, was a strong source of support from the beginning.
“My father has been at virtually every one of my games for my whole life,” said Steven appreciatively.
Steven made his varsity baseball debut as a sophomore at East Boston High School and later played American League baseball and one season of collegiate baseball at Salem State.
“I was coached by Donnie DiLorenzo for my first two seasons in high school and Phil Brangiforte (the current EBHS principal) was my coach in my senior year,” said Walsh, who was an All-Star outfielder and a .300 hitter. “My coaches were awesome. They made the game fun and I learned so much from them.”
Looking to play baseball at a highly competitive level in the summertime, Walsh began playing in the Yawkey League, an elite loop that has current college players and former professional players.
He played his first two seasons with the Boston Padres before joining the East Boston Blue Sox and eventually the East Boston Bombers who were coached by Ron Jordan. He played for the Harbor Point (Dorchester) Dodgers and became a member of the Brighton Braves in 2014.
“Interestingly, I have two career Yawkey League home runs and they came one week apart for the East Boston Blue Sox in 2004,” recalled Walsh, a four-time Yawkey League All-Star and Gold Glove award recipient.
Also highly regarded for his defensive skills in the outfield, Walsh said he patterns his game after Dwight Evans, his boyhood idol who was known for his cannon arm and prolific bat.
“My favorite ballplayer growing up was [former Red Sox star] Dwight Evans,” said Walsh.
On the road to reaching the 300-hit milestone, Walsh said he has batted against some truly terrific pitchers. He lists four hurlers in the “toughest I have faced” category: Mike Smith, former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and now a Yawkey League teammate; former Providence College pitcher Marc DesRoches of the Somerville Alibrandis; Derek Bates of the Somerville Alibrandis; and now-teammate Mike McCarthy of the Revere Rockies.
Outstanding Sandlot Athlete Award in 2019
Steven Walsh was the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Sandlot Athlete of the Year Award at the annual East Boston Athletic Board Banquet in June.
It was a full-circle achievement for the lifelong baseball standout who was named the Outstanding Baseball Athlete of the Year by the same organization in 1999.
From his earliest days on the fields of the East Boston Little League until today where he continues to put on the uniform and compete, Steve Walsh has been an ambassador of the game, always encouraging young athletes to play baseball.
He knows the end may be near as an active player and he’s okay with that. “After two knee surgeries, it’s tough playing alongside the college players – they call me, ‘Uncle Walshy,’” he said with a smile.
But asked specifically if this season might be his last, Steve Walsh replied, “I’ll continue to play ball for as long as I can or my body allows me. I love the quote from George Bernard Shaw who said, ‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.’
“With that being said, I hope to stay young and continue to play.’’
It’s safe to say that Steve Walsh will back on the field in 2020 and for many years to come collecting additional base hits and memories.