EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

August 4, 2013

The thrill of victory and the agony of ...

Two stars from the Andover team that went to Williamsport in 1988 learned life's painful lessons soon afterward

(Continued)

Guzowski recalled a close kinship with his mom, Ann, at a younger age. In fact, he later changed his name to Toby Guzowski McGrath to honor her place his life.

“My mother was very involved in politics,” recalled Guzowski McGrath. “If there was a inequality, environmental, education or other issue to champion she did. I still recall being seven years old and being dragged to New York City to march with a million other people in Central Park against the proliferation of nuclear arms.

“It left quite the impression,” said Guzowski McGrath, “especially since we slept on pews in a Manhattan church that evening with other families.”

His mom eventually lost her battle with cancer, but according to Guzowski McGrath, she didn’t go quietly into the night. When treatments in some of the top hospitals in Boston didn’t work, she moved Tijuana, Mexico for a summer to try different medicines that were not FDA approved.

In fact there’s a baseball connection with her exodus south of the border.

“My mom had written to me that summer telling me how she watched those boys out her window each day playing baseball and she thought of me,” said Guzowski McGrath.

“That’s why when I went to visit her I brought my mitt, a couple of balls and a bat.

“I actually played some pick-up baseball with the local kids in Tijuana when I went to visit her,” said Guzowski McGrath.

“We played on a makeshift field with heaps of trash just beyond left and center field. Beyond the right field line was the Pacific Ocean. What an amazing contrast.”

When his mother passed, Guzowski McGrath recalled becoming very close to his dad, as they lived alone as his older brother and sister were in college.

“There’s no question he was my best friend,” he said. “During this time period was also the advent of basketball teams competing more and more across state lines. I spent my springs and summers on basketball teams traveling throughout New England and played in the Junior Olympics in Tennessee and Kansas. My dad never missed a game or practice. We put plenty of miles on the family car and had just as many conversations.”

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