Article

!PLANET EXCLUSIVE! AFTER 30 STELLAR YEARS OF SERVICE, ARE PETTY POLITICS FORCING COACH BOBBY MOYNIHAN OUT AS PHS BASEBALL SKIPPER?

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JAN. 29, 2014) — When you mention the phrase “Pittsfield baseball,” many names might spring to mind — Art Ditmar, Gene Hermanski, Tommy Grieve, and Mark Balanger, to name a few. It won’t take long before you get to the likes Chuck Garivaltis, Larry Bossidy, Tony Ferdyn, Carl Boteze, and Buddy Pellerin. We could go on an on. Then, you realize, after 30 years at baseball coach at Pittsfield High School, you have to include Bobby Moynihan.

THE PLANET remembers Moynihan the player, a non-stop shortstop whose scrappy, peppery style won our admiration, a Nellie Fox-type spark plug who always hustled and played hard. When he took over at PHS a generation ago, Moynihan established a no-nonsense style that became a characteristic of his ballclubs. His teams played hard, respected the game, and always represented the school well, in alrge part because Moynihan insisted upon it.

Several years ago,  Moynihan was asked by a reporter, “How long would you like to coach?” Moynihan, then in his 24th year, answered: “As long as I can go, as long as they’ll let me. There are some guys who are retired [from school] who are still working. There’s no time limit.”

Moynihan should have added: “There’s no time limit as long as the game is being played on a level field.”

As the school gears up for spring sports, evidence suggests that, after a generation of unblemished hard work, Moynihan might have stepped on a tilted pitch.  Is the fix in on Bobby M? Here’s what THE PLANET has learned.

Under a new provision passed last year by the school committee whereby all school sports coaches must re-apply for their jobs each year, Moynihan re-applied to coach the PHS baseball team for the 31st year. No decision was made on Moynihan’s application. Inside political forces rallied against Moynihan, who then filed a grievance with the school committee. That grievance will be heard behind closed doors today (the state’s Open Meeting Laws allow boards to go into executive session when discussing personnel matters).

Multiple sources tell us that school committee member Jim Conant was the force looking to oust Coach M. Sources say that Conant got upset at Moynihan because the coach the cut two of Conant’s sons from the PHS squad, the last occurring in 2013. In response, sources says, Conant “started using his power and began a petition to remove the coach.” We also learned that “other parents” complained to Moynihan when their sons were cut from the team. They joined Conant’s closet-job efforts, apparently putting pressure on school administration to fire Moynihan “or else.”

Welcome to the age of helicopter parents, an obnoxious species of homo braggadocio who exclusively breed geniuses of superability found otherwise by the rest of us only in comic books and movies. Their children compose their first symphonies in pre-school. These Moms and Pops — no June and Ward Cleaver, to be sure — use computers to make calendars with pictures of the Lil’ Darlins’ on 12 months of the year. You know the type. They use Facebook. A lot. To tell us how perfectly perfect their kids are.

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Of course, one of the biggest decisions for any coach in any team sport is selecting the roster. We’ve known coach Moynihan for a lot of years, and we can only say that based on our experience, if he cuts kid, it’s because, in his judgment, (a) the kid is not good enough, (b) he’s good enough but has a bad attitude and isn’t a team player, (c) it’s best for the kid, (d) it’s best for the team, or (e) some combination of (a) through (d).

Conant, responding to THE PLANET’s request for comment, told us, “Just a bunch of rumors here. We have moved on. I wish coach the best. Dan, I’m sure you know that SC members have no power or input with school personnel matters.  This could be PPS policy issue and is private to the party involved. I do not know.  We should have confidence that what ever the out come, it will serve the best interest’s of PPS policy and students. Your comment about some rule changes, I know nothing of that. Perhaps this is a policy or contract matter.”

One source tells THE PLANET, “Conant was behind this. His first son a few years ago as well as a second last year were cut. This combined with his belief for a number of reasons that Bob should no longer be coaching. Bob is a good man with high moral character and deserved a better fate than this. We should celebrate his 31 years. I hope when my day comes I am met with a better fate.”

Sources say there have been “numerous letters supporting Moynihan sent to the mayor and school committee.”

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Meanwhile, we received this Letter to the Editor from a parent with a son on the PHS baseball team:

“Coach Moynihan Should Be Allowed to Return”

“Here are a few thoughts I have on the PHS baseball team and Coach Moynihan. I am not leaving my name as my son is currently on the PHS team.

“I can only comment on the last 2 years (2012 & 2013) as my son has been with PHS baseball program for 2 years now. So far he has had a positive experience and we appreciate the time and effort that ALL of the coaches put in for the program and the boys. I’m inclined to think that Coach Moynihan should be allowed to return as I don’t think his performance warrants his removal and I am not aware that he has done anything improper that would require his removal. Over the last 2 years the varsity record is 23 and 20 (11 and 11 in 2012; 12 and 9 in 2013). In both years they qualified for the Western Mass tournament. In 2012 they won their first playoff game and lost the second. In 2013 they lost their first playoff game. Could the results have been better? Sure. But what is the minimum criterion for judging a successful season? I would say it is qualifying for the playoffs, which requires 10 wins, so by that standard he has been successful. Also, Pittsfield has had to play in Division 1 all these years so when they get to the tournament the competition is a lot tougher than most of the other Berkshire county teams have to face.

“The ‘chatter’ among some of the player’s parents is that given the level of talent on the team, the results should be better so it must be the fault of the coaching in general and specifically the head coach. Well Coach Moynihan doesn’t bat, field or pitch during the games so it seems to me that more blame for game results falls on the players. Just because Pittsfield youth leagues, such as South Little League, have a history of All Star success doesn’t automatically guarantee the same success at the High School level. There are 2 public high schools in Pittsfield so the talent gets somewhat diluted in all sports when the kids get to 9th grade. Perhaps we are just not as good as we think we are. Has Coach Moynihan made some questionable decisions related to in game strategy, playing time and discipline? Of course he has. What manager hasn’t? Usually the “bad” decisions are forgotten if you win the game and magnified when you lose. And what parent, whose kid is sitting on the bench more than they are playing doesn’t think the coach has it wrong?

“The letter from Attorney Ferris, which was reported in the Berkshire Eagle seems to have it mostly right from my perspective. The (now former) school committee member who led the charge to replace Moynihan is Jim Conant. His son Josh, now a senior, played on the team his freshman and sophomore years. He was cut during tryouts in 2013. Was it because his dad was trying to get Coach Moynihan fired? I’m sure that had a lot to do with it but I also believe there were also other reasons related to Josh’s attitude being less than team first. Apparently this wasn’t the first time the Conant’s have had issues with Coach Moynihan as Josh’s older brother had a similar experience when he played for PHS last decade. Is this primarily a personal vendetta by a connected local politician?

“Whatever ends up happening, the PHS baseball team will be under a spotlight this season whether Coach Moynihan returns or a new head coach is named.”

— Anonymous

THE PLANET RESPONDS: Anonymous asks: “what parent, whose kid is sitting on the bench more than they are playing doesn’t think the coach has it wrong?” ANSWER: Any parent that cares about their son and wants the best for him. “Budinsky” parents who harass coaches because their kids aren’t playing enough are doing their children no favors. In Moynihan’s case, without addressing any specific situation, we would posit that if Coach benches a player, he has a valid reason. Let’s face it, parents. You’re kid most likely isn’t the next Ted Williams or Cy Young.

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“Yesterday the fields were only grey with scattered snow, / And now the longest grass-leaves hardly emerge; / Yet her footsteps mark the snow, and go / On towards the pines at the hill’s white verge.” — A Winter’s Tale,” D.H. Lawrence, (1915).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

54 Responses to “!PLANET EXCLUSIVE! AFTER 30 STELLAR YEARS OF SERVICE, ARE PETTY POLITICS FORCING COACH BOBBY MOYNIHAN OUT AS PHS BASEBALL SKIPPER?”

  1. dusty
    January 29, 2014 at 3:04 am #

    What a great lesson to teach your kids. If you don’t get your way use revenge to get even. If they do replace the coach does the new coach have to promise ahead of time to let this kid play and be the starting pitcher every game? Is the new guy already in the cue having made this promise?

  2. ShirleyKnutz
    January 29, 2014 at 4:58 am #

    This is a very bad precedent. Who will want to coach in Pittsfield after seeing how a successful longterm coach is railroaded out of town. However as a teaching moment it seems similar to how the Feds and State governments “silence” their critics, it is who you know and who you know in a power position if you need to “get” back at someone. Isn’t that what is happening in NJ and Washington?

  3. Billy
    January 29, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    Unchecked power

  4. Billy
    January 29, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    It was like last night at the council meeting ,The mayor wanted to scrap the rules and the guidelines to use a million from the G.E fund . He said we can revisit it later? I never seen more reckless management of funding. I was glad JLo and Barry said it didn’t make sense to not lay out rules and time limits before you allocate money not after? The corner office talks about rules when they are attacking someone. ,then turn around and are so lax with such a large amount of funds. I applaud his attempt. But it’s not coming to Pittsfield. , the site needs. Remediation and the state is not gonna cover it. A million won’t cover squat. Corey Thurston hinted last night the the really want a building to already exist. I applaud them for being for something, but not throwing out the rule book when it suits them .it makes us look so un professional.

  5. Billy
    January 29, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    Meant they

    • Jim Gleason
      January 29, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      ok christine yon, keep going. what did Melissa do wrong last night, or is that for a later post?

      • Billy
        January 29, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

        Jim I’m not Chris yon stop being a two year old.God thank god you like Bianchi I wouldn’t want you on my side your a embarrassment

      • Billy
        January 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

        Argue issues or go get a life Chris Yon is gone and so is Jim Riberto stop blaming the lack of leadership in the city on other people .You have to own up to something someday

        • Billy
          January 29, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

          Ruberto

          • levitan
            January 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

            Jim Riberto stop blaming the lack of leadership in the city on other people

            Fair enough. I’ll stop blaming Ruberto for Bianchi’s shortcomings, in exchange, you stop pinning Ruberto’s settled policies on Bianchi. For example, Spectrum was engaged in court by the Ruberto administration and the consequence of tortious interference was hanging there like a piano on a frayed string.

          • danvalenti
            January 29, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

            Ruberto Administration did initiate court action against Spectrum, as you say, LEV. But it should be noted that it won all three decisions in the preliminaries. Then Bianchi took over, gave the case to Kathy Degnan, and the next thing you know, the city gave Spectrum the store. It was, as we wrote, a courtroom disaster for Pittsfield taxpayers. That’s all on Bianchi.

      • danvalenti
        January 29, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

        BILLY is not — repeat, NOT — Christine Yon.

  6. Thomas More
    January 29, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    Ah it takes us back 25 years when a coach cut a senior who had sat the bench for three years. Until high school the boys father had coached every team he played on and he was always the starting shortstop. When he was cut dad went to the superintendent to complain. I was musing last week had junior’s baseball career gone the way pop had planned it he would have been enshrined in Cooperstown this summer.

    • Larry
      January 29, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

      A story I’ve also witnessed more than a couple of times!!!

      You are spot on!!!

  7. NJP
    January 29, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Attached is an editorial written in the Berkshire Eagle on 1/14 regarding Coach Moynihan, following an article posted in The Eagle and followed by many letters to the Editor (all printed) supporting Coach Bobby! The Eagle article and editorial bested your exclusive coverage two weeks later.

    http://www.berkshireeagle.com/editorials/ci_24905919/issue-goes-beyond-coach?IADID=Search-www.berkshireeagle.com-www.berkshireeagle.com

    • Johnny 2 Shoes
      January 29, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

      I love it when DV makes the BB say, UNCLE!

      • danvalenti
        January 29, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

        Lately, we’re making them say “Aunt” “Napoleon Solo,” and “Illya Kuryakin.” A bonus point for anyone who gets the references!

  8. mike r
    January 29, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    Both of Jim’s kids were terrible ball players. But when Jim got Wachonah Park under the lights for the PHS Team back in 2003, guess who was starting although he was a talent less arrogant schmuck who do not play. Jim’s kid.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 29, 2014 at 7:56 am #

      Saw his youngest son play at thought he was very good.That be said he must of not been good enough to make the team. Sad thing is a valuable lesson was loss. Instead of complaining, go out bust your butt practicing and getting ready for the next season. Use it as motivation, no one will succeed all the time.

    • Allen
      January 29, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

      Sounds like Mike R’s kid was past over.

  9. Tim Bartini
    January 29, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Did any of you “Pittsfield Schools suck” people read in todays Eagle, the letter to the editor from the coach of the Cathedral High Girls Basketball team? I know this might affect your gloom and doom attitudes but believe it or not there is a lot of good things being taught in our school system. Great job Lady Braves and Coach Matt Mickle!

    • joetaxpayer
      January 29, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      Tim never said Pittsfield schools suck, both my kids graduated from PHS. Sorry don’t get the Eagle, will try to catch it on line. Did you catch the story on IBerkshire where the Taconic player made a unsportsmanlike comment to Drury’s coach and the police had to get involved. I believe the suspended the Drury coach 2 games for his unprofessional reaction.

    • Jim Gleason
      January 29, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      Pittsfield schools are a laughing stock, Tim. The only one on the last committee who belonged there was Terry Kinnas and we’re all at loss for his not being able to serve again.Dan Elias is good too, I should include that.

      • joetaxpayer
        January 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

        Jim, I believe the teachers in the Pittsfield Public School’s are as good as anywhere.I just think the way they are managed hurts them at times.Also the politics gets in the way of the kids education.

      • levitan
        January 29, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

        You’re talking about the School Committee. Thank heavens they aren’t PHS.

      • Tim Bartini
        January 29, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

        Jim. Sorry to disagree with you . I think there are quite a few Pittsfield school system graduates that have done very well ! Elisabeth Mitchell “Banks ” has been in many well known movies. She started in the PHS Drama shows. Taconic grad Stephanie Wilson was a astronaut on the space shuttle. We have many grads from Pittsfield doing very well. [REDACTED]

        • danvalenti
          January 29, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

          TIM
          No one has stated otherwise. Of course there are many graduates that have done well. As for the grads you name, you can cherry pick a handful of grads from any school and find stars. It would be far easier to name those who ended up messing up. They are a dime a dozen.

        • Jim Gleason
          January 31, 2014 at 8:55 am #

          Tim, that was 20 or more years ago and back then, yes, PPS were much better than they are now. There are some very good teachers here too, but if they aren’t given the resources to do their job correctly they are handcuffed. I’m talking about the over stuffed administration center where there are assistants to assistants of assistants making between 80 and 199k per year. That is frivolous and not necessary and takes money from the schools, where it is most needed. They also buy the cheapest supplies for not only the classroom but for the maintenance of the schools, including wax and custodial supplies needed to maintain appearance and longevity of the floors and equipment. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

  10. shakes his head
    January 29, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    just start the kids and make it well known it is only because their parents are on the School Committee? That would fix the problem

  11. Joe Blow
    January 29, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    I would like to see all sports out of the school system. If parents want their kids to play get together and form a league.

    • Jim Gleason
      January 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      that’s the most moronic statement i’ve heard in a long time, and i’ve heard some doozies lately!

      • Joe Blow
        January 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

        I guess you didn’t watch the State of the Union last night,it was full of doozies.

      • levitan
        January 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

        Yeah, JG, that assumes there is no connection between academics and sports. Team activity is a part of education and team sports fits the bill.

  12. Gene
    January 29, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Thats the way it works in Pittsfield, things don’t go your way, then use inside influence to pull strings. Serious issue because its the very reason why Pittsield wont get the MBTA contract. Politics are too bad. This costs the region countless millions but the GOB are happy. They have theirs.

  13. joetaxpayer
    January 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Gene I find it funny that the State of Massachusetts is making it a rule that all MBTA cars be put together in MA. Yet the City has no problem going out of state for many contracts. The real brain teaser is that people on EBT cards can use them anywhere in the Country. Why not keep all that money in state?

  14. Gene
    January 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    Joe yes I agree, its “funny” but not “ha-ha” funny as we used to say. City management is bad and getting worse by the hour .

  15. Dave
    January 29, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Just a question. If Coach Moynihan requests that this issue not be done in executive session can this be dealt with publicly?
    I don’t know if he would request this but I sure would if there is no basis.

    • danvalenti
      January 29, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

      DAVE
      I’m not sure of the answer. If anyone knows procedure if the person requests open session, let us know.

  16. Jim Gleason
    January 29, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    This sounds eerily similar to my Dad, Don Gleason, being fired after 53 years of service at the CYC, which isn’t the CYC any more because they’re not there any more. Coach Moynihan does NOT deserve this kind of shabby treatment after 31 years coaching baseball and all of his years service as a teacher ar PHS too, let us not forget that! The name of the coward behind all of this would not have come out if not for Dan’s service to our community. I applaud you for this and many other great stories the BB is afraid to publish. this decision comes down to the Principal at PHS,Matt Bishop, who is the final appointing authority for head coaching positions at the school. No mention was made of him. If Conant tried to get this done through Jim Abel, the Athletic Director for Pittsfield Schools, I would understand it more because, in my opinion he, Abel, isn’t worth his weight in feathers. I hope the Mayor and School Committee have the intelligence to see this for what it is, which is payback or vendetta, whichever you prefer to call it.

    • dusty
      January 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

      If the mayor and school committee wanted to they would have snuffed this issue a while back. Obviously they are on board with it. They owe Conant a favor for all his favorable gob votes.

    • danvalenti
      January 29, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      JIM
      Yes, I concur. What happened to your dad was an injustice. Great, great man. Also, let me assure you, I know for a fact that BILLY is not Christine Yon. You can take that to the bank.

  17. Georgie
    January 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Jim Conant is also the chairman of the Conservation Commission. Can we assume that he’s probably meting out justice in that capacity as well? What does that look like?

  18. Billy
    January 29, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    Dan will you do a article to follow up on the story in the B section of the Eagle.Lee public Schools said to day that they must change the way things are operating in order to save Money and still provide a quality education.They said it is necessary due to declining enrollment and rising cost. They said doing nothing is not a option and the town folk. Do not want the budget to keep increasing.They said Lee is looking at Athletics and extracurricular activities as well.they said they are looking at the budget. And leadership structure as well.
    I applaud the small towns and their commitment to their residents
    And not burdening their next generation with a unsustainable. system.
    I look around and Pittsfield just doesn’t get what permanent damage were doing or selfishness and. Greed has taken precedence over the common good and a strong fiscal footing for the next generation instead of the house of cards we passing on to them now.
    Dan please add to what was written like only you can because the deserve kudos. And we need to learn before it’s to late.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 29, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Billy, agree what Lee is trying to do save money should be looked into. Also what every town in MA. is doing to save tax dollars should be looked at and copied if applicable. W.Springfield’s streamlining of recyclables,other towns mergers of dispatchers and towns that merge and sell off buildings that could be put back on tax rolls.

      • danvalenti
        January 29, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

        YES! And not only what Lee is doing, but many towns and municipalities across the country that don’t want to end up like Detroit. The bills are starting to come due for all the pyramid of benefits given from taxpayer money to municipal unions.

      • Billy
        January 29, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

        Joe
        We are spending money we don’t have on a department that is not only too big but is not getting the job done,We are leaving our kids with huge debts and they are going to charter schools and anywhere else that will serve their needs instead. Of their own.The mayor and Mel maz talk about coming to get her to accomplish things and move the city forward.Well start there and stop trying to control every board or opinion that differs from your own you owe that to everyone who did not vote for you and they out number those who did. Hell over 1000people voted blank for mayor that tells you something.

    • danvalenti
      January 29, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

      BILLY
      We have addressed this topic more than any other media source, and we shall continue to do so in the future.

  19. Billy
    January 29, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    Dan please ask Jim to stop being unprofessional. . I can. Call you and you will know I’m not Chris Yon. I would just like you to get him to knock it off. I don’t what his obsession. Is but it is unhealthy. Chris Yon got elected and served . End of story please ask him to knock it off cause I’m not her her and I can prove it in a second

    • danvalenti
      January 29, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

      BILLY
      Will do.

    • Jim Gleason
      January 31, 2014 at 9:01 am #

      sorry, my mistake. Won’t happen again.

  20. Eugene Smart
    January 29, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Buddy Pellerin is one of the Coaches on this team. This is disgusting. There trying to kill 2 legends in one shot…

    • danvalenti
      January 29, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

      BUDDY belongs in this discussion. In fact, ES, I will go back and add his name, which I inadvertently omitted.

  21. Billy
    January 29, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    Thanks Dan

  22. Giacometti
    January 29, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Having been one to be canned for no reason after 30 years this stinks worse than yesterdays diapers