As promised in last week's edition, I have finally put together the All-Time WHS Baseball team … except, the talent was so deep, that I elected to divide the team into two. The first group listed below consists of the top 21 players ranging from 1937 to 1971, and next week the second part will feature about 25 of the top players from 1972 to the present, totally 46 players.
On this list below, of the 22 players, 14 are members of the Wilmington High School Hall of Fame, while a large handful of these selected players went on to some kind of great collegiate and/or professional tryout/career.
Here's the team:
WILLIAM “EARL” BALDWIN, 1955
Baldwin was a standout southpaw pitcher at WHS, who as a freshman, was one of the team's strongest pitchers, helping the 'Cats capture a league championship title. The other three years the teams were not that successful, although he was still the team's ace on the mound. He was an outstanding athlete which included playing football, hockey and basketball.
In 1956, he was signed by the Red Sox and dressed two games for the Lafayette Red Sox of the Midwest D League but didn't appear in any games.
After his baseball career ended, he became the President of Baldwin Crane & Equipment Corporation.
JOE BEATON, 1961
One of the more consistent hitters and players on the success of those teams in the early 60s, Beaton was a key player in the 'Cats league championship season of 1961, which included losing to Woburn in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
A first baseman, Beaton led the '61 team in hitting with a .382 clip. Later on he came back to WHS as a longtime assistant coach, mostly in football.
EDDIE CASEY, 1961
A talented athlete, who also played semi-pro football with the Nashua Colts and is a member of the WHS Hall of Fame, Casey, a right fielder, was a powerful hitter on any baseball diamond. Among his highlights included belting a home run in a 16-3 win over Swampscott in the first round of the state tournament. That team featured Billy and Tony Conigliaro.
PETER EMERY, 1965
A four-year starter at shortstop, including his freshman year when the 'Cats reached the state final, Emery is regarded as one of the top position players of his generation.
After high school, he went and played at Colby College in Maine, batted .343 and was named to the All-Mine Collegiate team, before he signed to play one season of minor league ball in the Red Sox organization.
Emery is a member of the WHS Hall of Fame.
AL ETHIER, 1952
Another outstanding three-sport athlete of his generation who played four years on the diamond, Ethier was a two-way threat between hitting and pitching on the championship team of 1952. At the plate, he batted over .400 and almost every single game he had multiple hits.
As a pitcher, he finished 4-1, which included tossing a 2-0 complete game (9 innings back then) 1-hit shut out over previously unbeaten Punchard High. That performance was his second straight complete game, while he has given up one run over 19 innings of work. Besides pitching, he also played right field.
After the completion of the '52 season, Ethier, along with teammate Jere Melzar, were invited to the Yankee School tryout.
KEVIN FIELD, 1962
Part of the Big-3 along with Rick Froton and Jeff Williamson, Field was a tremendous all-around athlete, also excelling in football. In baseball, he was a three-year starter and is regarded as one of the top pitchers in the history of the program. As a junior, he batted .328 and helped the 'Cats win the Lowell Suburban League Championship title for the first time.
The following year as a senior, he again led the team to the league title, and pitched a 5-0 state tournament victory over Newburyport and followed that up with a win over Cathedral, helping the team reach the state finals, losing to Randolph. Besides his dominance on the mound, he was also one heck of a shortstop and hitter.
He was named to the Lowell Suburban All-Star team, the Boston Globe and Travelers All-Scholastic Honorable Mention teams two years straight.
After WHS, he went on to have a brilliant career at Northeastern University, going undefeated as a starter and a reliever, and helped the Huskies reach the College World Series.
RICK FROTON, 1962
In all due respect to the many other pitchers on this list, Froton is the best hurler to ever play at WHS. He finished his career 23-3, including 8-2 record during his senior year, with two no-hitters. He became the first pitcher to toss a no-hitter since Joe Woods in 1940 and remains the only pitcher in program history to toss two no-hitters in the same season. In the home win no-hitter against Methuen, he struck out 11 batters.
Later in the season he had 14 strikeouts in a 10-3 win over Chelmsford. Then in the playoffs, he outdueled Woburn's Eddie Foley (who was 5-0 at the time) with a 6-4 victory, with 15 strikeouts, including the final five of the game. Froton also picked up the save against Cathedral, only to come back the next day and lose the heartbreaking game to Randolph.
Froton was then signed by the Red Sox and went on to pitch for the Wellsville Red Sox of the New York Penn League, Single-A Affiliate team before suffering some arm injuries to force his retirement.
JIM GILLIS, 1963
One of the all-time greatest athletes to ever wear a WHS uniform, Gillis was an outstanding baseball player, who was a key component in the team's two straight league championship titles, including reaching the state final in '62.
A third baseman, who could also really hit the ball, Gillis had a number of big hits in the team's deep state tournament run.
After high school, he played both baseball and football at Springfield College, went on to play seven years in semi-professional baseball. He came back to WHS to first coach the '77 team to the Eastern Mass semi-final game before taking over as the Athletic Director.
He is enshrined in the WHS Hall of Fame as an athlete, a benefactor and a part of many great teams as a player, assistant or head coach.
ROBERT GOSS, 1950
Like so many on this team, Goss was an outstanding three-sport athlete, who also excelled in football and basketball, and is a member of the WHS Hall of Fame. In baseball, he was a four-year starter as a pitcher and outfielder. He had the program record for strikeouts as a pitcher during his senior year and was regarded as an excellent hitter.
BILL GUSTUS, 1971
A crafty southpaw, who pitched more to contact, Gustus was instrumental in the team's league championship season of 1971, the first in nine years. That senior year he finished the regular season with a 5-2 record, tossing seven complete games. In 48 innings, he struck out 35.
That came after he finished 4-4 as a junior with 38 strikeouts in 53 innings, giving him a two year total of 9-6 with 101 innings of work and 73 strikeouts.
FRANK HADLEY, 1937
At 5-feet-11 inches, Hadley was a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher in the mid to late 1930s. He was named the Most Outstanding player of the 'Cats during his senior season and was one of the first members inducted into the WHS Hall of Fame.
After high school, he was scouted by Red Sox, but ended up playing in the Washington Senators organization, including finishing 13-5 and a 2.45 ERA for the Chattanooga Lookouts, which competed at Level-B at the time.
TEX JOHNSTON, 1948
A massive person with giant hands, Johnston, who has been said to have hit moon shots as a hitter, was also a fireball pitcher. In 1948, he finished the season with a 10-4 record, including striking out 101 batters.
After he graduated from WHS, he played for the Ramblers, a semi-pro team at the time and also had a tryout with the Red Sox but blew out his arm. He is a member of the WHS Hall of Fame.
TED KAMBOUR, 1951
A hard throwing pitcher, Kambour had many dominating performances in the early 50's, usually with 10 or more strikeouts, including 13 in a big win over Johnson during '51 season.
After WHS, Kambour played at Amherst College and then went on to pitch for three years for the Yakima Bears, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1958 he became one of the few pitchers to throw a perfect game, against Salem. He was a captain at Amherst and also served in the Peace Corps.
JERE MELZAR, 1952
One of the best athletes at WHS during his generation, also excelling in football and hockey, Melzar, a third baseman, a mainstay with team for several seasons, batted over .400 during his senior year with four home runs as he helped the Wildcats capture the league championship.
After the completion of the '52 season, Melzar, along with teammate Al Ethier, were invited to the Yankee School tryout.
JIMMY MELZAR, 1961
One of the all-time great shortstops and hitters ever to suit up, Melzar was known as a power hitter, who hit towering home runs.
He played some years of semi-pro with the Indians organization. From there, he played both baseball and fast pitch softball for years, an incredible accomplishment. In baseball, he played 13 years for the Chiefs of the Intercity League. He was inducted into the InterCity Baseball League's Hall of Fame in 2011.
GERRY O'REILLY, 1951
One of the first inductees into the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame, O'Reilly was one of the more feared power hitters in the league and in program history. A first baseman, he hit at least four home runs during the '51 season, which included three in one game, a 12-0 shellacking over Dracut. He went through a short stretch of games combining to hit the three round-trippers as well as pair of triples.
BILL RITCHIE, 1965
An excellent three-sport athlete who is a member of the WHS Hall of Fame, Ritchie suffered just one loss throughout his stellar pitching career. He also led the team in hitting as a senior.
ARTHUR SPEAR, 1949
Considered one of the all-time greatest pure athletes of his generation, Spear, a member of the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame, was the first WHS catcher to play all four years and was also a big reason why the team enjoyed a league championship title in 1947.
ERVYL STEWART, 1942
Another tremendous multi-sport athlete who is a member of the WHS Hall of Fame, Stewart nicknamed “Terrible Turk” was a first baseman.
He was regarded as the team's best defensive player as well as best hitter, and was also known as the league's best all-around player. He was named to the All-Suburban Team in 1942.
JEFF WILLIAMSON, 1963
The third member of the 'Big Three', Williamson was part of that championship season in '62, but got sick and didn't participate in the team's tournament run to the state final.
He had several huge wins that season including a ten-strikeout performance in a 14-1 win over Burlington, and a six-strikeout performance in a gritty, 3-2 win over Billerica. He returned as the team's ace pitcher the following year as a senior.
After high school, Williamson went on to pitch four years at Springfield College before signing on with the Baltimore Orioles organization. From 1968-'70, he played his first two years at Level-A Miami and then split between A-AA in his final year.
JOE WOODS, 1940
One of the most dominating pitchers of his time, Woods played all four years in baseball as well as three years of football, two years of basketball and two years of hockey. In baseball, he was mostly known for his no-hitter, nine strikeout game against Tewksbury.
COACH: JOE GILLIGAN
Gilligan started his 18-year coaching career at WHS in 1956 and captured three league championship titles, five state tournament appearances, and was the leader of the 1961 and '62 teams that are among the best teams in program history. The '62 team reached the state championship game losing to Randolph by a run, coming in the last of the ninth inning.
He also guided the 1971 team to a league title, which he later said was among his top achievements.
Gilligan coached a number of players who played at the professional level, including pitchers Rick Froton and Jeff Williamson, among others.