Three years ago, the entire Warwick Continental Little League family suffered a great loss when longtime coach Lou D’Abrosca passed away.
Last Thursday, as Mike Gannon’s 11-year-old all-star team celebrated its state championship with a victory over Cumberland, Gannon, the manager, couldn’t help but think about D’Abrosca.
In Gannon’s mind, Continental and Lou D’Abrosca might as well be synonyms.
“He was Warwick Continental,” Gannon texted me the next day. “He would have loved this group of kids.”
D’Abrosca wasn’t there to see the team march through the District 3 tournament, and then follow that up with a perfect run through states. He wasn’t there to see the multiple laps around multiple fields, carrying championship banners. He didn’t have a chance to see the home runs and the dominant pitching performances.
That’s why his wife’s presence was so special.
Monica D’Abrosca, who was married to Lou for nearly 49 years – 40 of which he spent coaching at Continental – saw it all. Her late husband wasn’t there, and Monica doesn’t spend a lot of time watching Continental baseball games these days, but starting in the second game of the district tournament, she saw nearly every inning of the 11-year-old team’s run.
Sitting in the stands seemingly out of the blue, the first game she saw, Continental won 17-0 against Coventry. The last game she saw, Continental captured its title.
“It was the first time I’d seen her in years,” said Gannon, who got to know the D’Abroscas years ago as his son was starting out in tee-ball and the D’Abrosca family was a fixture at the field. “I gave her a big hug. It was great to see her. She just had a connection – Coach Lou always had all his boys and they were her boys too.”
Monica D’Abrosca lives next door to one of the players on the team, Aidan Warrener. Somehow, she got word that something special was happening, and for the rest of the summer, there she was, watching and loving a team that her husband undoubtedly would have loved too.
“She adopted our team as her own,” Gannon said.
Gannon never asked exactly why she had started to come out to watch his team, which became one of the most accomplished group’s in recent Continental history.
He didn’t have to ask.
“I think I know why,” Gannon said. “She never lost the passion or the love for Little League baseball and the kids compete at a high level. It was just kind of a connection I think between the past and the present.”
In the coming weeks, Gannon and his state champion bunch are going to make that connection official. They all signed a baseball, and when a group of them can make it work, they’re going to go over and present it to Monica.
Along with the ball, Gannon is planning on giving her a hat with the state championship pin on it and a framed picture of the team, holding the state championship banner.
But before they give everything to her, they’re going to get a history lesson on who exactly Lou D’Abrosca was, and why thanking his wife for her commitment to the team is meaningful.
“I think recognizing her and what she means to our league is important,” Gannon said.
Most of them were 8-years-old when Lou passed, and many of them barely know his significance.
Gannon will make sure that through Monica they honor the man who helped shape the league itself.
“He was passionate about baseball and making sure the kids played the game the right way and making sure they were better kids than they were ballplayers,” Gannon said. “I think you could say that about this 2014 team.”
Having her there just made a special summer a little more bit more special.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Lou D’Abrosca always had that effect on Little League baseball. He made it special for 40 years.
This time, he just got a little help.
“I always say to the kids, ‘Act like someone is always watching you,’” Gannon texted me on Wednesday. “And I have to believe that in this case someone is. Coach Lou has a front row seat.’”
Kevin Pomeroy is the assistant sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and firstname.lastname@example.org.