GORHAM — Ed Flaherty sat, arms folded, with his family next to him on folding chairs in front of the pitcher's mound at the University of Southern Maine's baseball field. He listened as several speakers praised him. He watched as current and former players, including many from his 1997 NCAA Division III national championship team, lined the basepaths.
If Flaherty, in his 32nd season as head baseball coach at USM, was excited or even a little nervous, he didn't show it.
"No, it was just a regular morning for him," said Debbie Flaherty, his wife. "Really, what was most important to him is that he wants to win. He said this morning that this is a big game."
The Huskies defeated Western New England 4-1 to improve to 25-8 on the season. But Sunday was a special day for other reasons. For the first time, the Huskies played on Ed Flaherty Field. The field was finally given a name as university officials honored their longtime coach.
"Wow," said Flaherty, moments after the new name was unveiled on the left field scoreboard. "This is something I certainly didn't expect.
"I am honored and humbled. And I feel a little weird about it. I'm still coaching these guys, and if I stay healthy I'll continue coaching them for a little more."
Flaherty thanked everyone who has helped him, from school administrators (Athletic Director Al Bean in particular) to trainers and groundskeepers, his assistant coaches (including long-time assistants Ed Boyce and Vinnie Degifico), his players and the fans. "I only feel a part of this," he said. "This could be the Southern Maine baseball field."
HUMBLED TO BE HONORED
Those who know him best aren't surprised at his low-key reaction.
Bean said Flaherty told him the honor was "nice, but not necessary."
Bean felt otherwise. "I think what Ed has brought to this institution in terms of success of the baseball program and the quality of his teaching and coaching, both in his program and in the classes he conducts (Coaching Philosophy and Fundamentals and Coaching Baseball), is just exceptional," said Bean. "He's had an enormously important impact on countless students in this institution."