HOOKSETT -- Roger David Bjornberg Jr., 41, died May 31, 2009, at his home.
IN HIS LIFE: Other family members include his mother-in-law, Maria, sister-in-law, Tywana, brothers-in-law Todd, Steven, and Pete, and nephews, Leo and Owen, who was also his godchild. He was pre-deceased by his maternal and paternal grandparents, including his grandfather, John Hartigan, whom he greatly admired and cherished. Roger graduated from Providence College in 1989 and moved shortly thereafter to New Hampshire, a state he had always loved and easily called home; the "Live Free or Die" state motto became his mantra. Roger was an avid Red Sox and New England Patriots fan. He remembered his birthday, October, 1, 1967 more fondly as the "Day the Red Sox won the Pennant."
Roger loved his family, good humor, political debate, movies of all kinds, camping, playing and watching baseball, practical jokes, stoking the fire on a fall day beside the sounds of a close football game, eating chocolate on chocolate over chocolate, playing the piano, puttering around the house, jamming out to a Grateful Dead tune, outdoor swimming almost any time of the year, cracking Seinfeldisms, quoting stats of legendary sports figures, and reading just about anything.
Roger was a board member for Hooksett Youth Athletic Association and a beloved coach of Little League, soccer, and basketball for many years. He was proud to teach and guide so many youth on the fundamentals of baseball and the principle he respected most; true sportsmanship.
He was an amazing husband, father, son, brother, coach, and friend. He was a Friend of Bill's and a man of faith. Roger, always a fierce competitor, had fought cancer with the strength and attitude of a true champion. Roger will be dearly, dearly missed by his family and friends, and all whose lives he touched.
SERVICES: A celebration of his life will be held Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Phaneuf Funeral Home 243 Hanover St., corner of Union Street, Manchester, with prayers and remembrances in the funeral home chapel starting at 6:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Friday at 9 a.m. at St. Marie Parish, Notre Dame Avenue in Manchester, followed by a graveside ceremony at Mount Calvary Cemetery, Manchester.
Roger played 11 years in the GSBL.His first five years in the league with the now defunct Methuen/Lawrence/Manchester/Lowell Mudhens on which he received recognition as the Mudhens Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. He played a year with the Bedford Rockies and his last 5 years with the Merrimack Dodgers. He is a 3 time GSBL All-Star and has recorded over 150 base hits in the league with a GSBL career batting average of .320. Most of all Roger was a good teammate to everyone he played with in the GSBL.
Memorials may be made to the Bjornberg Memorial Fund, Bank of America, 1090 Hooksett Road, Hooksett 03106.
The Maine Diamond Dogs of Portland, ME recently won the MSBL Fall Classic 45+ Wood Bat National Division tournament held November 6th - 9th in Clearwater / St. Petersburg Florida. Current GSBL players Russ Ward of the Senators and Jay Hoyt of the Red Sox along with longtime Brewer John Collins started each game for Maine. Collins, batting leadoff and playing shortstop, recorded a 5-hit performance in the playoff clinching game vs. Ann Arbor. Hoyt pitched the Dogs to a 2-1 victory vs. the Tampa Bay Lokey A's in the semi-final matchup. Ward was named tournament MVP as he played all 54 innings with 4 multiple hit games and a gritty defensive performance filling in for the injured Collins at shortstop in the final.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Nashua thanks Nashua Storm and Single Digits Inc. for hosting a batting clinic for children waiting for a Big Brother. On Saturday, March 22, Nashua Storm players organized a batting session at Extra Innings. Bob Goldstein of Single Digits Inc.. sponsored the event. Nashua Storm, coached by Joe Dunne, is a team in the Granite State 30 and older baseball league. A great time was had by all, and Nashua Strom has some new fans who appreciate their gift of friendship!
These boys of summer are over 30, not over the hill
August 3, 2007
John Donati Union Leader
It was a battle of the blue and gray Wednesday evening at Holman Stadium in Nashua as the Granite State Over 30 Baseball League took the field for its 2007 All-Star Game. Merrimack had members of the two teams in town, the Dodgers and the Brewers, on each side of the diamond to add a local angle to the competition. There was plenty of competitive talent to go around, but the general consensus seemed to be about having fun and enjoying the game; many of the players are on a first-name basis with one another. A cool, windless and rainless night provided an excellent backdrop for what proved to be a relatively one-sided game as the Grey All Stars shut out the Blue All Stars, 8-0. "There are some really good players in the league," said Merrimack Brewers pitcher/shortstop Pete Lopez. "It gives us a chance to be competitive and make the game fun again." Lopez, a rookie to the GSBL, turned 30 a few weeks ago. He played baseball in his younger days for Manchester Central High School. He would go on to play for the University of New Hampshire, but when the program there was discontinued, he played for New Hampshire College, now Southern New Hampshire University. There are 12 teams in the league, some from as far away as Concord and Lincoln, who made the trip to Nashua for the game. The top teams were broken up evenly, but the numbers were slightly in favor of the Grey All Stars, with the No. 1 standing Concord Cardinals in the forefront. Some of the players in the league have been to the major and minor leagues. "It's great for us. It takes you back to when you were a kid," said Merrimack Dodger manager George Gatzimos, who was also one of the coaches for the Blue All Stars. He recalled a story from his childhood playing for the American Legion League on the same field and popping one up for the final out. Gatzimos and the Blue All Stars first baseman John Saraceno, both residents of Merrimack, have been playing baseball with and against each other since junior high school. Saraceno is also the GSBL president. Their stories are strikingly similar to many of the other players', having played high school, Babe Ruth and Legion baseball when they were kids. They are both competitive in nearly everything, they said. "The call me the league president, but I;m just the Merrimack Dodgers assistant coach," Saraceno said jokingly. "He (Gatzimos) can bench me, but I can throw him out of the league." They decided to put their own team together five years ago and have been improving ever since, building a team and improving rusty skills. "The first few years, we were bad, but we brought in seven new guys, built some camaraderie, and now we're able to be competitive," said Saraceno. Their passion for the game is evident. "There's nothing like being on the mound," said Gatzimos. "You're facing someone, and it's your best against their best." They said they're often asked if they play softball when seen in public in uniform, and the answer is a resounding "NO. BASESBALL." For Dodgers outfielder/pitcher Rob Baker, playing GSBL baseball means something a little different. "It's a chance to keep my youth before I lose it," he said. "Softball is just not the same. Most of these guys are pretty passionate about the game of baseball." It's not a beer-drinking opportunity to them. "These guys are here to play ball," said Saraceno. Most are traditionalist as well, with the league voting to use only wood bats (in 2005). "It sounds different, feels different, and it turns the game more into baseball with not so many long balls," Baker said about the use of wood bats. "When you hit a ball, it just feels better." Their home field in Merrimack is the high school varsity field. They are also members of the Merrimack Friends of Baseball, a group that pools resources and raises money for field time and upkeep for a common goal of promoting the sport.
By ERIC EMMERLING
New Hampshire Union Leader Sports
Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2007
WHEN THE OFFER of a professional contract arrived from Dan Duquette earlier this spring, Jeff Hastings had to laugh.
"Why wasn't this in the mail 10,12 years ago?" Hastings, head baseball coach at the Derryfield School in Manchester, chuckled.
Duquette, general manager of the Boston Red Sox from 1994-2002, invited Hastings to be a player/coach for the Tel Aviv Lightning this summer in the inaugural season of the Israel Baseball League.
Hastings, a Tilton resident and Plymouth State University graduate who played professionally with the Nashua Pride in the Atlantic League in 2004 and in the Canadian American League in 2006, signed on the dotted line.
His flight left Monday. Opening Day is Sunday against the host Petach Tikva Pioneers, whose lineup includes another New Hampshire resident, soon-to-be-46-year-old Ari Alexenberg of Portsmouth.
Slightly beyond major-league prospect status, Hastings and Alexenberg will be competing in a league created to increase the popularity of baseball in Israel, with a long-term goal of developing Israeli players. The Israel Baseball League comprises six teams, with a 45-game regular-season schedule, an all-star showcase and a championship series. Duquette is director of baseball operations for the new league, which has the support of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and New York Yankees minority owner Marvin Goldklang.
Derryfield coach Jeff Hastings, shown after the Class S championship this month, will be one of the initial players in the Israel Baseball League.
"This is just too great of an opportunity not to do, so I had to do it," Hastings said.
Hastings still holds career hitting and base stealing records at PSU, where he played from 1988-92. After college, he kept his skills sharp as a three-time ASA men's softball All-America selection and a dominant force in the Concord Sunset and Granite State Baseball leagues.
It was Alexenberg, whose parents are from Petach Tikva, who recommended Hastings to Duquette. (Ken Holtzman -- who set a Major League Baseball record for wins by a Jewish pitcher, with 174 over his 15-year career -- is the Pioneers' manager.)
"I'd be lying to myself if I didn't have some concerns going over there to a country dealing with unrest and terrorist activity, but I can't allow that to deter what is the right thing to do," said Hastings, whose wife and infant child will remain stateside.
Lightning players will reside in a local dormitory and travel as a group. Other professional leagues operated without incident there. Hastings plans to remain vigilant, and then have fun playing and coaching.
"The real intrigue lies in having a chance to play and coach in a brand new league," said Hastings, who has coached Derryfield to three Class S title games in eight seasons. "I want to help build excitement about the game I feel very passionate about."
Until recently organized Israeli youth baseball was a scarce commodity. Take Alexenberg's story as an example. Born in New York City, the Orthodox Jew didn't play organized ball because most games were scheduled on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. And, when he moved to Israel with his family for five years, he didn't play due to a lack of ball fields.
Alexenberg began playing organized ball in college at the age of 23.
Before stadium construction and groundwork for the Israel Baseball League began back in 2005, there wasn't one baseball diamond in Jerusalem.
Hastings and the league's other players -- including experienced college and professional veterans from the U.S., Canada, Venezuela and Europe -- will offer instructional camps and training clinics for Israeli youth.
"As I understand it, they want to have Israel represented at the 2009 World Baseball Classic," said Hastings. "And now the only people playing baseball over there are transplants that live there."
Like minor league games in this county, the league hopes to bolster game attendance with promotional and interactive activities. Regulation games last seven innings, with ties settled by a home run derby.
"I think the play is going to be exciting and competitive, and I think the experience is going to be fantastic," said Hastings. "I can't wait."
High Honors: GSBL Player Inducted Into SNHU Athletic Hall of Fame
January 17, 2007
Congratulations to Scott Bilodeau for his induction into the Southern New Hampshire University Athletic Hall of Fame! Scott entered the GSBL in 2003, playing his rookie season for the Derry Red Sox. Since then, Scott has also played seasons for the Nashua Yankees, and Nashua Nationals. Scott is now preparing for his 5th season in the GSBL, as a member of the Hooksett Red Sox.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- Class of 2007 Inducted Into Athletic Hall of FameWednesday, January 17, 2007
SNHU Sports Information
Induction Ceremony Photos
The Southern New Hampshire University Athletic Hall of Fame Induction ceremony was held January 13 at the SNHU Hospitality Center. SNHU athletic director Chip Polak announced the addition of Scott Bilodeau '99, Chuck Croteau '01, Orlando "Bino" Ranson '99, Dana Pratt '72, Kerri Silvestri '95 and Richard Walker '01 to the University's Athletic Hall of Fame that evening. With the addition of the 2007 inductees, the SNHU Athletic Hall of Fame now consists of 77 individuals.
Local television personality Mike DeBasi, Jr. served as emcee of the event, which also featured emotional speeches from the presenters of the five inductees on hand.
Bilodeau was a four-year member of the baseball team and led the team in batting average as a sophomore, junior and senior. He posted a school-record .354 career batting average and led the team to a share of the New England Collegiate Conference championship and the ECAC Division II title in 1997. He collected first-team All-NECC and second-team ABCA All-Northeast Region honors as a senior. He was presented his award by former assistant coach Jake Filip.
This past Sunday was the day that former GSBL President Michael Reed called it a career after pitching a complete game, 2-1 loss to the Hooksett Red Sox. Michael Reed of the Monadnock Braves decided it was time to go back to Sunday morning Mass with the family when the season starts again in April. Reed has spent many seasons on the diamond and has helped the league expand, develop and become the premier league that exists today.
Michael started with the Hudson Dodgers in 1995 and stayed with the team over its names changes (Heat/Astros/Reds) over the next 7 seasons. He took over as the manager for the Reds and the team enjoyed several strong seasons. He also played with the Senators, Rockies and finished his career joining the Braves in 2004.
Michael not only contributed on the field as a player and manager but also held league positions. He served as League Treasurer, master scheduler, umpire liason and as League President from 1999-2001. His accomplishments include working agreement with Budweiser and Bellavance on supplying the league with baseballs, institued the League annual sportsman of the year (and was awarded as the 4th recipient after Gary Fisher, Dan Cosgrove and Curt Colby).
"I've greatly enjoyed this league and the many friendships I have made, the people that I've played with and worked with on the Board that have made it such a quality environment. My fondest memories here in the league include being in the dugout for Mike Thibideau's return from Iraq and his first game back, anytime my wife and sons were there to watch me play, going out pitching better than I did when I (started), and just being one of the guys in the dugout, being a teammate to a lot of great guys for a lot of great years."
All of us from the GSBL wish you the best Michael. You have help make this league what it is today and we thank you for all of the hard work and mountains of accomplishments. Godspeed.
For the love of the game:Local Over-30 squad has plenty of juice left
August 13, 2006
By Alan Siegel
DERRY - "Hey, Timmy, did you forget to grab your Ensure this morning?"
It's 8:30 a.m. and the bench jockeys are already tearing into 46-year-old third baseman Tim Fischer. As infield practice continues, the opposing manager mutters to himself, "It's not a good sign when you have four guys looking for Advil already."
The men of the Granite State Over-30 Baseball League know that by the sport's standards, their time has passed. They're former minor leaguers, TV anchors, writers and cancer survivors playing a young man's game twice a week. Their kids come to watch them pitch, hit and throw in the summertime. And they'll tell you straight up that it's serious business.
"I quit golf for this," says Kevin Gray, who like Fischer, is a member of the Derry Astros, the GSBL's locally based team.
Minutes before Derry takes on the Nashua Nationals on this warm day in late July, two pitchers toss a football around to warm up their arms, while those in the dugout discuss David Ortiz's status as a walkoff machine.
The aluminum bleachers behind the backstop - their version of the players' wives section - aren't quite filled. After all, it's barely 9 on a Sunday morning. But try telling the players that.