Many South Shore Baseball Club (SSBC) members earn college scholarships, some are fortunate enough to be drafted and play pro ball, and a select few such as Mark Woodworth go on to coach baseball at a higher level.
Woodworth, a native of Norwell, is in his fifth year as head coach at Wesleyan College in Connecticut, where he was a four-year starting shortstop and graduated as the school’s all-time leader in baseball games played.
A three-sport captain at Norwell High (Class of 1990), Mark was an All-South Shore League all-star in baseball, soccer and basketball, as well as SSL Athlete of the Year in 1990. He started attending SSBC when it first opened, largely so he could play baseball during the off season, and Mark later became an SSBC instructor. Little did he realize that the seed had been sown in terms of his future profession.
“I was there at the very beginning,” Mark said. “I spent every day of each Christmas vacation there while I was in college. It was the place to go; it was great. I worked the summer of ’90 up until ’94. I worked a couple of summer camps at Scituate and Hingham. The 11-and-under AAU team I coached in Iowa had Ryan Morgan and Tim Daley was a youngster back then.”
Woodworth captained the 1994 Wesleyan team to the New England championship and a trip to the NCAA Division III World Series, placing runner-up in the tournament and post a school record 30-8 overall record.
A baseball coach for 17 years, including 11 at the college level, Mark was head coach at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. He served as an assistant coach at Amherst and Wesleyan from 1996-97 while earning his Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree. As the Cardinals third coach in the 65th year of the school’s baseball program, Woodworth led Wesleyan into the NESCAC in two of his first four seasons, and he was named NESCAC Coach of the Year in 2002.
“It was great being around Frank Niles and the other coaches at SSBC,” Mark commented. “I was there because of Frank, pure and simple. He got everybody excited about playing baseball. I’m not surprised SSBC is doing so well all of these years later. I had a great opportunity to be around baseball people, talking baseball and learning how to play the game.
“I learned a lot of things about how to practice . It wasn’t about showing up at the cage and taking 10 rounds. It’s about being focused on your rounds of practice because there was time and space to explore baseball. Quantity of practice is important; quality of practice takes you to the next level.”
In 1995, Mark coached four future major leaguers as an assistant coach for the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod League, the same affiliate he played in as a member of the Wareham Gateman in 1993. He also played in the Boston Park League, Cranberry League and American Legion leagues.
In addition to coaching at Wesleyan, Woodworth teaches and serves as the director of intramurals and he is the New England coordinator for the Division III national coaches’ poll. As a supplement to his baseball teachings, he has written a book, The Rhythm of Baseball, about the technique and mental approach of baseball.
“At SSBC,” he concluded, “I learned how to play the game in an enjoyable atmosphere. At the end of the day that’s definitely a huge element. SSBC wouldn’t sustain itself so long if the best camp or exclusive programs were limited to only a certain few great players. I wish I could recruit more players from SSBC. They are advanced in knowledge; SSBC has raised the bar.”
Coach Mark Woodworth has made the grade from SSBC member to college baseball coach.