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Roger Brown's State of Sports: A fitting tribute to Joseph

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 22. 2018 9:36PM
George "Butch" Joseph, right, listens before the start of a Manchester Memorial vs. Manchester Central hockey game as then-Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas makes the dedication and plaque presentation for one of the new JFK locker rooms in honor of Joseph. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader File)

George “Butch” Joseph was a sports-minded educator who worked in the Nashua and Manchester school systems, so it’s appropriate that a sporting event bearing his name has been created by his friends and family members to provide scholarships for student-athletes in those cities.

The George “Butch” Joseph Slow-Pitch Softball Tournament will be held in Manchester next month to raise money for the scholarship fund, which will provide one scholarship to a Manchester student-athlete and one to a student-athlete from Nashua.

Joseph, who spent nine years as Manchester’s director of athletics (1986-93), was 84 when he passed away in April. He was also a coach, official and a supporter of youth sports for all ages in many places throughout the state. At 83, he was the driving force to get the locker rooms renovated at JFK Coliseum.

“This is what he would have wanted,” said Kim Joseph, Butch’s daughter. “He was about providing opportunities, and since he worked in Nashua and Manchester, two scholarships made sense. Every penny raised — 100 percent — will go to these scholarships.”

The inaugural tournament to fund the scholarships will be played Saturday, Aug. 4, at Gill Stadium and Manchester’s Wolfe Park. The tournament will feature a double-elimination format, and the championship game will be held at Gill. There will be concessions and a raffle to help raise funds. There will also be a kids tent to help give the tournament a family atmosphere.

For more information about the tournament or scholarship fund, visit the George “Butch” Joseph Scholarship Fund on Facebook.

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State of Sports spoke with two members of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, pitching coach Vince Horsman and starting pitcher Jon Harris, about the stress a minor leaguer can feel during the weeks leading up to the MLB trade deadline (July 31).

Horsman spent six years in the minors before he was promoted to Toronto in 1991. The Blue Jays selected Harris in the first round of the 2015 draft.

Horsman: “It’s part of the business and you just try to ignore it. You control what you can control, and you can’t control that. Obviously it depends on what position your parent club is in. If your parent club is fighting for a spot, then anything your parent club is going to do to help their chances of winning will impact the minor leagues as far as prospects going to another club. When your team is not in the hunt and other teams are looking to get a Happ (Toronto pitcher J.A. Happ) — you hear Happ’s name mentioned a lot — then it doesn’t impact our minor league system as much because we would probably end up getting minor league prospects back. The good thing is if you are involved in a trade, you know somebody wants you, and if you’re not involved in a trade, you know that somebody doesn’t want to lose you.”

Harris: “I’m sure there are some guys that kind of get bothered by it because they see their name when a team is going to make a trade for that guy, but this guy has to be included in it. It gets put on social media. It’s in the newspapers and stuff. Everybody sees it. Even the player sees it, but you can’t let that swallow you up because if you let it get to you too much it can affect you on the field. You’re calling your agent, ‘What’s the deal?’

“At the end of the day you still have to go play and until something happens, until someone tells you ‘Hey, this is what’s happening with you,’ you just have to go out there and keep playing ball until decisions are made whether it’s involving me or not.

“This game is a business. Every team is out there to win a championship and they’re going to do what’s necessary to get the players to win that championship.

“A lot of friends and family back home, they follow it and keep up with it and they’ll let me know, “There’s talks about this and that. That’s all it is. We can play GM all we want — we can speculate all we want — but at the end of the day we just have to keep playing the game whether we’re on this team or the next team. We’re still playing the same game even if it’s on a different field.”

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Here’s the schedule for the first day of this year’s American Legion Baseball Senior Tournament, which will begin Friday at Gill Stadium: Weare vs. Derry (11 a.m.), Nashua vs. Lebanon (1:30 p.m.), Laconia vs. Rochester (4:30 p.m.) and Merrimack vs. Concord (7 p.m.)

The state’s junior tournament will begin Saturday at Portsmouth’s Leary Field. Here are the first-round matchups: Nashua vs. Newmarket (10 a.m.), Londonderry vs. Jutras (12:30 p.m.), Merrimack vs. Dover (3:30 p.m.) and Portsmouth vs. Lebanon (6 p.m.)

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Practice for the 65th Annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl will begin next Sunday. This year’s game will be played on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Castleton (Vt.) University.

Winnisquam High School’s Pat Riberdy is New Hampshire’s head coach. There are 26 schools represented on the New Hampshire roster.

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New Hampshire Babe Ruth teams have yet to lose a game in the New England Regionals. The Nashua 13s were rained out Sunday, but are 2-0 and can secure a No. 1 seed today if they defeat Rhode Island in the final game of pool play; the Keene 14s are 3-0; and the Concord 13-to-15 team is also 3-0.