WATERTOWN. “Go back to where you used to be,” Paul McCartney sang to the other Beatles at their famous rooftop concert in January 1969, and Rico Brogna does just that. In a week filled with major events involving people and places in his baseball life, Brogna, a former Watertown High School and Major League Baseball player, felt:
One of his closest friends in the game, former Philadelphia Phillies teammate Scott Rolen, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 24.
On Jan. 28, he traveled to New York to present the 2022 American League Manager of the Year award to his one-time Phillies manager, Terry Francona, who was paving his way to Cooperstown, first with the Red Sox and now with the Red Sox. Cleveland Rangers to a packed Baseball Writers Association of America dinner audience at the Hilton Hotel.
Oh yeah, Brogna was named the new baseball coach at Watertown High School, replacing longtime coach Jerry Valentino, who stepped down late last year.
For Brogna, who went from WHS to organized baseball as a first-round pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1988, the program was never far from his mind.
“I got to work with some of the kids last year and saw some games just spending some time with them.
“I’ve continued because it’s a special program that very few people have had the opportunity to coach, and it served as my stepping stone to the bigs, so I’m thrilled that Paul and everyone else in the decision-making process gave. me this opportunity,” Brogna said.
Brogna brings years of experience and wisdom to the position, having played for nearly 10 years with the Tigers, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox and Braves before retiring in 2001.
After appearing with the Mets in the season-shortened 1994 season, Brogna, plagued by injuries and playing on the worst-ever surface at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, managed a back-to-back 100. -plus RBI season in 1998 and 1999, and provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base for Francona’s Philly teams.
Brogna also provided left-handed power, with four seasons in which he hit 20-plus home runs, finishing with a career .270 batting average.
“I like to teach the game.” Brogna, who will lead a Warriors team that graduated six key players to the 2022 squad and will feature many younger players when it begins the Brogna Era on Saturday, April 1 at St. Paul Catholic High School, will then set it up. Home debut at DeLand Field Monday, April 3 vs. Seymour HS
“We’ll be well drilled and ready,” Brogna said. “I want to see us progress, get better at it and continue to be successful here.”