Lynn Shore Little League was teetering on the brink of extinction just a few years ago. There was talk of locking the clubhouse doors and revoking the league’s charter.
But along came hard-working Lynn Shore president David Dorgan and the league became re-energized with enthusiastic players, dedicated coaches, appreciative parents, and a refurbished Kiley Park infield – and the future suddenly looked bright.
Charlie Bilton, a legendary Little League manager who made his mark in Saugus and helped the Saugus Americans advanced to the Little League World Series in Williamsport in 2003, joined the organization last year.
For the past month Charlie Bilton, manager Ryan Gendron, and coaches Justin Bilton (Charlie’s son), and Ryan Sullivan worked with the Shore All-Stars – six 12-year-olds and six 11-year-olds – in daily practices, and then took them on the organization’s longest run in the District 16 Tournament in years.
The Shore squad won its first District 16 Tournament game in eight years and three games overall including an 8-4 triumph over Swampscott. A potent Wyoma of Lynn team ended Shore’s run in the tournament Sunday at McMackin Park in Revere. Shore last won a District 16 title in 1982.
Shore has approximately 160 players and four Major League teams, making it one of the smallest leagues in the district.
The Shore 9-and-10-year-old reached the finals last year in the District 16 Tournament. Six players from that team moved up to the Williamsport team for this year’s 11-and-12-year-old tournament.
Sullivan said the key ingredient to the All-Star team’s improved showing was practice. “We practiced every day and the practices are usually 3-4 hours long. We’ve been at the park every day. The days that it rained, we went to the batting cages [The Hit Zone] in Swampscott.”
Max Gieg was the ace of the Shore pitching staff, opening the tournament with a 2-0 win over Saugus and following with an 8-4 win over Swampscott. Julien Silvestri hit a home run in the Saugus game while Erick Ubri clouted one out of East Lynn’s Volunteer Field to help Shore beat Swampscott.
Leadoff hitter and second baseman Andy Duverge was a spark plug throughout the tournament. “He’s the youngest player one the team but he’s one of the best and he’s a team leader on the field,” said Gendron.
Dayshon Anderson displayed his hitting and fielding talents in the five games. The other members of the team in uniform for the final game were Brayan Rodriguez, Jomar Moreta, Elias McDonald, Kendrick Jean-Francois, Odiase Williamson, and Seth Menard.
Sullivan said David Dorgan is the league’s MVP – most valuable president – who brought Lynn Shore back from the edge of closure.
“Dave’s the man,” said Sullivan. “He saved the league. It’s his second year as president and he’s done a great job. Dave has been great getting the resources we lacked in past years. He’s gotten a lot of stuff fixed like the streetlights near the park and he’s done the fundraising for new uniforms. He brought in the guys from Lynn Babe Ruth to help with the field and Bill Trahant put a brand new roof on the clubhouse.”
Sullivan and Gendron said Charlie Bilton came on board through their friendship with Bilton’s son, Justin, who was a coach in the league.
“Once Charlie received clearance from his doctors following his heart transplant, he came to Kiley Park to help coach our kids,” said Sullivan. “Charlie is a baseball genius.”
“Charlie is a big reason why our All-Star teams enjoyed the success they had the past two years,” said Gendron.
Bilton said he underwent heart transplant surgery on August 14, 2011. “My heart had dropped to 16 percent capacity and they kept me in intensive care. I expected to wait three to six months but God was good and I was blessed and I got a heart in three weeks. Over time things got better and my son asked to help out Lynn Shore last year.”
The Biltons also coach the Lynn Shore White Sox team and they are 17-1 this season. Gieg and Anderson are the team’s top pitchers.
Bilton was proud to see the Shore All-Stars defeat the Saugus Nationals Saturday. He was a coach in the Nationals organization for 25 years, winning three District 16 championships from 1985 to 1990.
“Nobody expected Lynn Shore to go this far,” said Bilton. “The kids have done an amazing job. The kids have worked very hard. We’ve come a long way. Great things happen when you do hard work.”
Bilton said he feels fine and is happy to once again be helping kids develop their baseball skills.
“I never thought I would throw batting practice again,” said the 65-year-old Bilton. “But things have gone very well. And it’s been a joy to work with these great kids from Lynn Shore.”