The dugout has been North Haven coach Bob DeMayo’s home away from home for the last 56 years. After undergoing knee surgery following a fall two days before the start of the season, DeMayo wanted to get back in the dugout, even if he couldn’t actually coach.
“I’m more of an advisor,” he said.
He said he sits in the dugout and sometimes just outside of it to watch North Haven games. DeMayo has not been able to coach this season, but still lends a helping hand.
“Its been very frustrating for me,” he said. “I look forward to coaching.”
The frustration began as DeMayo was leaving church in Madison in March. He said he slipped on some snow on one of the steps and fell directly on his knee, severing the quad tendon from the bone.
That was not the end of DeMayo’s knee problems.
“I actually had two serious falls after that before I could get to the orthopedic surgeon,” he said. “They thought it was an ACL (injury). It was a combination of things that made it a messy job.”
The coach likes to stay active too, and said the knee problems may have began while he was playing tennis before the three falls. A blood clot also formed as a reaction to the medicine he is taking, he said. DeMayo said he attends physical therapy three times a week and his doctors are monitoring the blood clot.
All DeMayo wanted to do was coach another season. Calling all the pitches and directing runners and batters from the third base coaching box has been a large part of DeMayo’s life for five decades. However on crutches the coach could do none of those things, so he broke the bad news to his players that he would not coach this season.
“It’s a team game,” he said. “So I’m going to do what I think is best for the team.”
That meant handing the keys to the car to Muchie Dagliere, his assistant. So far the Indians are 6-11 and need to win two out of their last three to clinch a state playoff spot.
Dagliere played for DeMayo at North Haven and coached against him at Wilbur Cross. He said although DeMayo has not been able to coach, he’s been a great advisor.
“I think he’s got another 56 years of coaching left in him,” he said.
It hasn’t been an easy season, but DeMayo said he knew his assistants would lead the players well. Part of DeMayo deciding not to coach was because his assistants had done such a good job in his absence.
DeMayo would not be absent for too long, though. He said around the fourth or fifth game of the year, he showed up to watch his Indians. He could not get around well at first, so his wife drove him to the park and he watched from his car.
“It was very strange,” he said. “But I knew that what I was doing was the best thing (for the team.)”
The coach, who has 838 career wins, shouldn’t have that strange feeling much longer. Now back in the dugout, he said he is determined to coach again next season.
“I don’t want to end a long career this way with what I had to go through this season,” he said.
Contact Henry Chisholm at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Henry on Twitter @nhrHenryC.