March 25, 2003
You need brains to play baseball at Babson College.
Not only was senior pitcher Billy Fitzgerald bright enough to be accepted by a high academic standard college like Babson, he’s been sufficiently talented to pitch into his fourth season for the Beavers, too. Last season, Fitzgerald led the Beavers in mound starts with 10.
He also had the smarts to sharpen his baseball skills as a youngster at the South Shore Baseball Club.
Born and raised in Scituate, Billy first started going to SSBC for the same reasons most kids did and continue to do so — play baseball indoors at its Hingham facility during the off season,
particularly the winter months.
“SSBC filled the gaps when I couldn’t play because there was snow on the ground,” he remembered. “I got the opportunity to hit, catch and receive instruction. It was nice playing indoors. I’ve always felt players from the Northeast have been at an unfair disadvantage with Southern players who play outdoors year round. It always drove me crazy that they thought they were better than us.
“I was on a 16-year-old “Seadogs” team that traveled to a tournament in Sarasota. It was great beating a lot of Southern team, but it still bothers me because, technically, we finished second. We should have won it all because we lost only once, in the finals, and it was a double-elimination tournament. I’ve always enjoyed competing against tournament teams. It was the first time I was really able to calibrate what I was up against.”
Fitzgerald comes from Scituate, not necessarily known as a great baseball-producing town, although Michael Conroy (Cleveland Indians farm system player) also comes from the small, beautiful town by the ocean. Billy used SSBC and the “Seadogs” as a reality check, competing with and against players such as Conroy, Ryan Morgan (Boston College), Sam DeVito (Eckerd) and others. They pushed each other to become better baseball players and even got their parents to car pool them to SSBC. “We surrounded ourselves with that kind of talent and dedication,” the 6-0, 180-pounder added. “I got to see some of the best players in the state and knew them when I played against them in the Bay State games, high school and even now in college.”
Vin Hillyer, Steve Almonte and John Flanders’ were Billy’s pitching coaches at SSBC. Today he is a marketing/communications major at Babson and plans on staying involved, vocationally, that is, in sports. He recently had interview with Bally’s Fitness and the Boston Red Sox in sales.
“Billy’s a real good kid with a great attitude,” SSBC president/director Frank Niles, Jr. remarked. “He’s a power pitcher with a good arm who likes to challenge hitters with his fastball. Billy’s a great competitor and he loves being on the mound. He’s always been a superb teammate, one who’s uplifting to everybody with a real can-do approach to everything.”
Billy does admit it’s difficult playing baseball and keeping up, academically speaking, at a school like Babson. “My goal was to go to the best possible school and Babson is one of the best business schools in the country,” he noted. “Academics have changed my focus, too. I thought about pursuing a baseball career, but I’m going into business instead of trying to play minor league baseball. I’ll still play baseball, but somewhere like the Boston Park League.
“Academics and baseball sometimes play off each other. When school gets hard, baseball can make it a little easier to deal with. And when I have a good game, I come home all fired up and want to do my homework. Babson also has an incredible support system. If you need help, it’s there for you. I’ve been told that only one-percent of all high school athletes play in college. I’m very happy playing here and wouldn’t change a thing.”
His future definitely includes coaching baseball, Fitzgerald says, possibly at SSBC. “I’m interested in coaching,” he noted. “I certainly see myself coaching my son some day in Little League.
Those guys at SSBC are synonymous with baseball. I’d like that, too.”
Billy’s known as “Big Fitzie” on Babson’s team, now that his brother, freshman pitcher Tom, has joined the Beavers. A couple of years ago, the left-handed pitcher was a major contributor to Boston College High School’s state championship team. Even though Billy also attended B.C. High, Tom was on the freshman team when Billy was a senior for the Eagles, and this, surprisingly, marks the first time the Fitzgerald brothers have been teammates.
“It’s a nice opportunity for is, our parents and friends,” Billy spoke for the Fitzgerald brothers. Oh, yeah, Tom’s another member of the growing SSBC alumni club.
Bright boys, those Fitzgerald brothers, huh?