A lot has changed in 40 years among friends – a lot of hair is gone, they are taller, admittedly heavier and the laughs shared together are even more boisterous than they were as 15-year-old baseball players and Babe Ruth World Series champions in 1980.
Most of the Rotterdam Babe Ruth squad gathered at the Schenectady Municipal Golf Course Sunday afternoon to share laughs, stories and drinks on the 40th anniversary of their title in Williston, North Dakota.
“We started about five years ago with about five of us getting together,” 1980 first baseman Bob Anderson said. “Over the last couple of years, we started adding guys to the point where 40 years out we got just about everybody here, plus one of the former coaches.
“Your teammates are your friends for life. You may not be in contact with them all the time, but once you see each other it’s like we’re 15 again at times.”
Anderson, a former Schalmont High School baseball coach, is the father of two successful minor league baseball players, Ian, the third overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft, and Ben, a 13th round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2019.
He has shared his youthful memories with all the teams that he has been a part of.
“When I was coaching high school, I would tell a lot of stories of that and how that is important,” Anderson said. “I would take my teams on trips out of the state just to bring everybody together when it’s just the team.
“You spend a lot of time together, practicing, playing, eating, hanging out and it pays off on the field.”
The memories came flooding back for the Middle Atlantic Regional representatives to the 1980 13-15-year-old Babe Ruth World Series.
“You don’t see everybody, maybe you go 10 years without seeing somebody, 15 years without seeing somebody else,” all-tournament catcher Tom Franceski said. “All of the sudden you get together and it’s like you never left the room.
“You start throwing barbs at each other, things you used to say. All the things you forgot that these guys don’t let you forget that you did when you were 14-15 years old.”
There were also the game-day memories shared Sunday afternoon.
“I was telling these guys, that game against Medford, Oregon, our first game in elimination and we felt like Medford was from top to bottom probably the best team there,” shortstop Joe Ziobrowski said. “Bobby Frank hit a home run.
“The wind was gusting to left field and he got underneath one and it just kept carrying. We jumped up on the top step and that gave us the jolt that we needed.
“Against Fort Pierce [Florida], the second time, we had two rain delays and Wrandy Seaburg coming out after each one of those delays and not giving in to nothing. That’s how we got here.”
The lone coach left from that championship team is 85-year old Tom “Tim” Tegiacchi.
“I was always anxious how we lined up with other parts of the country,” Tegiacchi said. “The more we went into it, I said, jeez, we can beat anybody with this team because they were that good.”
Tegiacchi knew them in 1980 as young men; now they all share stories of families and life.
“They all look pretty good,” he said. “Most of them are very successful and it’s a thrill for me to get together with them.
“We lost out manager and our other coach, I’m the only one and I have really been looking forward to this for about a month now.”
The 1980 champion’s manager, Fred Saccocio, Sr., died in 2013 before any reunions occurred.
On Sunday, his son, second baseman, Fred Saccocio, Jr. shared in the day and its memories.
“I’m glad we had the experience, particularly my dad and I having shared the experience,” Saccocio said. “My dad was a very tough manager; the other two coaches were soft and great foils for my dad.
“It ended up being positive. Things that my dad and I did before he died, we had that.”
The afternoon also brought light to how great things were among old friends.
“We talk about adult stuff mostly, families, kids and what’s going on, careers,” Saccocio said. “It always goes back to funny things that happened that we wouldn’t share, sacred stories, it always goes back there.
“One thing I was thinking about was how much we laughed. Laughter was just a regular part of the day, all day long.
“Then you start becoming an adult and you’re working and you’re like, I’m laughing a whole lot less than I used to. It’s good to come back here and just laugh hard with the guys that you love.”
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