In roasting Bidwell, we will also honor his service to Avery Point
In the pantheon of great ideas, this isn't far down the list, perhaps behind only the mute button, central air and an afternoon nap.
A roast for Roger Bidwell.
Finally, the region's No. 1 after dinner speaker, who has fired good-natured darts at many of us over the years, gets to sit and listen to a stable of his friends exact revenge. Come one, come all, Saturday, Nov. 3 at Port 'N' Starboard at 6 p.m. Better news: It's all for a good cause, notably Bidwell's scholarship fund to benefit future baseball players who attend UConn Avery Point.
Before we start having some fun with this: The point of the night, aside from our sides hurting with laughter, is to raise enough money to establish a scholarship in Bidwell's name. We cannot disappoint.
Bidwell, among the most beloved sport figures ever in our corner of the world, spent 36 years as the athletic director and 34 as baseball coach at Avery Point, sending hundreds of players to four-year colleges and a handful to the majors. Bidwell won more than 1,000 games and sent six teams to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series. He's an NJCAA Hall of Famer.
But those are just words on the resume. Even Bidwell's estimable exploits need to be punctuated with something else: Roger being Roger. The man is effortlessly entertaining. We all know successful coaches whose egos either inflated to the size of a passenger's side air bag or who have the people skills of celery. Bidwell has always been about people.
He used gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) humor to educate his kids for nearly 40 years. They all left the program armed with their Bidwell-isms, which they remember now way more than any bunt coverages or how to grip a changeup.
The roast is the brainchild of program alum Kevin Petchark, whose son, Alex, plays for the Pointers. Petchark has enlisted the help of Bill Buscetto and Isaak Lazarou, who combine to know pretty much everyone. This suggests that perhaps we should get there early, given the potential crowd.
Roasters include John McDonald, maybe the greatest Avery Point alum, who played 16 years in the majors. Johnny Mac, East Lyme's favorite son, ought to remember a few beauties about his old coach. Former University of New Haven baseball coach Frank "Porky" Vieira, who could make a corpse laugh, is on the list as is Jeff Joyce, the former Fitch coach and Bidwell protégé, who mimics Bidwell's voice better than the man himself. (I've heard Joyce's material here and let me just say he will have the room howling).
I love this stuff. Maybe because of this: The older we get, the more we drift to people who make us laugh, make our day and make us feel better about ourselves just by their presence. That's Bidwell.
Sadly, this is probably too sappy for good roast material. Which is why the committee asks that all attendees be at least 21. And not easily offended.
Pre-registration is available through Matt Fraulino, the Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement, via email@example.com or at (888) 822-5861. Either way, please come with checkbook handy to make the scholarship in Bidwell's name a reality.
We could ask that the gym or the practice field at Avery Point be named in his honor. But that's not Bidwell. Buildings have nothing to do with people. An annual scholarship, there to help kids benefit from Avery Point just as they did for many years under Bidwell, is the cherry on top.
I can't wait for this. Most of the sports community will be there. Heaven knows what's going to be said. The perfect tribute for a guy who has entertained us for four decades.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
Stories that may interest you
And this is the story of Dom Griffin, a former Whaler, class of 2008, who used rock bottom as a means not merely to rid himself of the figurative shovel, but to parlay his second chance into a happy life.