Don Saab is all-in. Just like he was 44 years ago.
The newest version of “Lawrence Boys of Summer” -- see Lawrence in the Legion Northeast Regional, which begins today in Worcester at 4:30 p.m. against Nashua Legion -- has rekindled fond memories.
Saab’s Lawrence Post 15 team, which included 18 players, is the last Lawrence team to play this far into the summer. In 1975, Lawrence was among the eight teams playing at Adams Field in Quincy for the Legion Northeast Region.
Lawrence finished two wins short of getting to the Legion World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
But, years later, it didn’t quell the amazing accomplishment, which included an overall record of 45-10.
“I am so excited for this Lawrence team and have been following them closely the last few weeks,” said Saab, now of Salem, N.H. “For me, back in 1975? It was one of the best summers of my life, if not the best.
“We played any team anywhere,” recalled Saab. “Our coaches (Jim Twomey and Iggy Brucato) worked on a schedule. We went to Maine, Connecticut, Manchester, N.H. We played the best teams and had a ball doing it.”
In fact, one of the greatest memories for Saab was celebrating with his teammates when it beat Webster-Dudley Legion to qualify for the Legion Northeast Regional in Quincy.
Saab hit two home runs in that game played at Fraser Field in Lynn. Teammate Dave Robinson pitched a complete game shutout. And Lawrence, which won 1-0, danced its way to the regional the following week.
“Unbelievable game,” said Saab. “We still talk about it. We lost the next game in the final, but it didn’t matter. We had to beat Webster-Dudley and we did. I don’t remember being that happy after a win. We went crazy on the field.”
A week later was another memorable game, this time a rematch against Morrisette Legion, in Quincy. Lawrence needed to win to clinch a spot in the Northeast Regional championship game.
It lost 5-1, ending hopes of going to the Legion World Series, then in Nebraska.
The score was deceptive. While the winning pitcher from Quincy, Tim Clifford, was 17-1 at the time and headed to Harvard University in the fall, Lawrence outhit them nine to eight, and left 16 runners on base (Clifford walked nine Lawrence batters).
“That was a tough loss,” said Frank Brucato, an assistant coach under Jim Twoomey and his dad, Iggy. “We had a great team. We could hit with anyone. We could pitch with anyone. You leave 16 runners on base, you probably are going to lose.”
Brucato ended up taking over the program with much success and many memories.
But that 1975 team was a special one.
“We had so many great players that it’s tough to talk about all of them because I’d leave out somebody,” said Brucato. “We had about six pitchers who were very good. That helped a lot. Jim (Twoomey) and my dad created an atmosphere that made Legion baseball a big deal. We played a lot of games. We traveled. We played on weekends. The month of July was baseball almost every day.”
Unlike this year’s team, which are all Lawrence High students or graduates, that team took players from Lawrence, Methuen, St. John’s Prep and Greater Lawrence Tech.
“It was a little different back then. It was a big deal to play Legion ball. In fact, we had cuts for the team because there weren’t AAU teams like there are now,” said Brucato.
But these boys are wearing Lawrence jerseys and they are getting full support from former players and coaches.
“This is great for our area,” said Brucato. “I realize Legion baseball isn’t as big as it used to be, but it’s nice to see Lawrence and (manager) Julio Ramos get it up and running again. The golf tournament last spring was a nice event to get a lot of former players and coaches interested in helping out. We’re all pulling for them.”
1975 Lawrence Post 15 team
Fred Simm Methuen
Don Saab Lawrence
Ed Saab Lawrence
Mike Delaney Lawrence
Jim Loffredo Lawrence
Peter Karamourtepoulos Lawrence
Leo Lopiano Lawrence
Steve Clifton Lawrence
Dave Robinson Lawrence
Tom Hambleton Lawrence
Juan Castillo Gr. Lawrence Tech
Chuck Prescott Gr. Lawrence Tech
Jose Hernandez Gr. Lawrence Tech
Paul Kelley Central Catholic
Earl Eddy Central Catholic
Charlie Martin Central Catholic
Greg Fulgione St. John’s Prep
Kevin McCann St. John’s Prep
Northeast Regional Tournament Schedule
Wed., Aug. 7
Fitton Field, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester
9:30 a.m. — Cumberland, R.I. vs. Stamford, CT
11:30 a.m. — Southington, CT vs. Brattleboro, VT
4:30 p.m. — Lawrence, MA vs. Nashua, N.H.
6:30 p.m. — Shrewsbury, MA vs. Hampden, ME