“The best year we’ve ever had is right now,” said manager of the Marblehead Seasiders Joe McKane in a recent interview about the town’s summer baseball team. The Seasiders, founded eight years ago by McKane, just completed a record-breaking season with 10 wins. They lost in the North Shore Baseball League playoffs last night, 7-6.
The Seasiders baseball team is made up of players, ages 18 to 26, from Marblehead, other North Shore towns and beyond.
Colin Dhaliwal ventured all the way from his home in California to come play for McKane, who has followed him in his baseball career since he was 14 years old. Dhaliwal graduated high school on June 10 before receiving a call from McKane about coming to play for the Seasiders this summer.
“[Colin] said ‘When do you want me?’” McKane told the Current. “I said, ‘June 11, we have a doubleheader.’”
This year, there were only four Marblehead players on the Seasiders’ roster. McKane attributes this to the Marblehead High School Varsity Baseball Coach Michael Giardi, who manages Peabody’s NSBL team, the Peabody Champions. Giardi, who’s fostered a close relationship with the Marblehead community over the years, has managed to recruit several Marblehead athletes onto the Champions.
However, despite Giardi’s efforts, MHS graduates Brady Lavender and Schuyler Schmitt have remained loyal to McKane and the Marblehead team. McKane considers Lavender and Schmitt to be two of the “star” players on the team. McKane also highlighted pitcher James Giugino from Methuen, pitcher Ian Gallagher and his brother Ryan also from Methuen, captain Trey Blackmer from East Boston and Mike Mitchell from Salem, who helped coach another player on the team, Harry Lynch, at Essex Tech.
McKane reflected on two games that stood out to him from the 2023 summer season so far. On July 18, the Seasiders went against the highest ranked team in the league, the Northeast Tides. The game resulted in a 0-0 tie stretched over eight innings with Giugino and Ian Gallagher pitching.
“Pitching is 75 percent of the game,” said McKane. “If you don’t have the pitching, you’re not going to the playoffs.”
The second game that stood out from the season was against the Beverly Recs on July 23. After falling behind, 4-0, the Seasiders came back and won 5-4 with Lavender hitting the game-winning run.
Best park on the North Shore
McKane started the Seasiders eight years ago after driving by Seaside Park on a summer afternoon and seeing no one playing baseball on the field. The park’s grandstand was built in 1916 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Seaside is the best park in the North Shore, hands down,” said McKane. “When I started out, I said, ‘I’m gonna make [the Seasiders] like a minor league team.’”
McKane passed out programs at Seasiders’ games, hired a website designer and raised roughly $10,000 a year. He’s now cut back to primarily writing weekly newsletters about the team’s achievements and raising $3,800 a year from the community.
Though managing the team takes a lot of work between scheduling the games, recruiting players and more, McKane appreciates the team and even thinks of them as family.
“We’ve been through a lot of thick and thin,” said McKane. “I have three sons and the Seasiders are like my fourth son.”