story & photo
by Christopher Annino
The CT Dugout Club was host to two baseball legends, Walt Hriniak, renowned hitting coach and Bill “The Spaceman” Lee, Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame inductee, at the Groton Inn & Suites. Walt is known for working with many of the great hitters, including: Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evens, Wade Boggs and Frank Thomas.
Walt advises, “You don’t always have to hold onto the bat with both hands during the end of the swing.” “Dwight Evens, in the eighties, ended his swing with one arm and because of that he was able to rack up more offensive numbers.”
Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski was an average player. His two strong characteristics that helped make him a great player included never giving up and always hustling. The mistake that coaches make is that they pay too much attention to their star players and not enough attention to other players.”
Walt talked about Roger Lafrancios, Old Lyme resident and former Boston Red Sox catcher, as being one of those players with a great deal of talent. With a little more attention, he could have had a longer career.
Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, in an interview about Walt, “I can’t express what Walt has meant to me and my baseball career, but I’ll say that I’ve got so much from Walt that I can’t give back. Certainly, my winning batting titles are a reflection on him.”
Bill “The Spaceman” Lee took the stage and gave the audience of players, coaches and fans his humorous but accurate philosophies on baseball and how it should be improved. When asked about Jim Rice, Red Sox legend and recent inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame, “The Spaceman” replied, “The press is too critical to many of the ball players. The day they announced Jim Rice’s nomination, I said it’s about time!”
Bill ended his speech by giving great advice to the youth, Don’t focus yourself on one career. If you want to play ball, it’s great but find other things you like to do so that you can expand yourself.”