EAST PROVIDENCE — It wasn’t the optimum way to go out, but the end had to happen some way. Bruce Zarembka made it “officially official” recently, stating his departure as manager of the East Bay/Riverside Post 10 American Legion Baseball program after 12 years at the helm was permanent.
“It’s one of those things where I’ll never say never, but from this point and time I have no plans on coming back,” Mr. Zarembka said in a phone interview. “I’m not happy about the way it ended for me, but all in all I’m proud of the 12 years I spent as the manager. I had a great time. I have no regrets.”
Mr. Zarembka’s decision to resign as Post 10 manager late in the season this summer did, however, come under regrettable circumstances. Frustrated by the lack of commitment to the team throughout the year, he decided it was best for all involved if he step away. Post 10 struggled on the field, but still qualified for the playoffs. The locals were swept in two games by Auburn Post 20 of Cranston in the opening round.
“When the league (Rhode Island American Legion Baseball League) added the college freshmen a few years, it changed. Most of those kids are working and have other commitments, so we ran into a number of conflicts,” Mr. Zarembka said. “This year, especially, it was difficult. From Day 1 of practice to the last game of the season we never had everyone of the players on the roster at a game together. It was very frustrating.”
This summer might have been challenging, but Mr. Zarembka reflected upon several much more pleasant moments he enjoyed as Post 10 manager.
His most noteworthy on the field accomplishment came in 2006 when he guided Riverside all the way to an elimination game for the state championship. The locals would eventually lose to the powerful Cumberland Post 14 team for the title.
“That was certainly the highlight,” Mr. Zarembka said of the ’06 run. “Looking back the last few weeks on my time as manager that was the highlight of my career. It was the first time in 16 years Post 10 had made it to the state final.
“We started that year 11-3. We got out of the gate strong and kept it going. In my 12 years I’ve come across a lot of players, but certainly that group stands out.”
Mr. Zarembka noted the leadership of the likes of Gary Levesque, the ’06 team’s top hitter who would go on to have a superb career at Rhode Island College. Bryan Soderberg, Nick Lundstrom and Joe Whalen made up the core of the pitching staff. Rich Fonseca, who would later serve as Mr. Zarembka’s trusted assistant coach, Andrew Boisvert and Andrew LaSalle formed a strong defensive infield. Chuck Manning and Scott Breault ably caught. Jeff Cantrell was another key contributor.
“Like the saying goes, pitching and defense is what wins game, and we had that in 2006,” said Mr. Zarembka. “We were a clutch-hitting team that year. The kids just meshed. Everyone on the team that summer contributed to our success.”
In later years, Mr. Zarembka noted the efforts of players like Matt Rodrigues and Ray Branco as well as Joe Carnevale. Mr. Zarembka remembered watching Carnevale start an East Providence High School playoff game as a freshman and knew he had found his Legion pitching ace for the next four years.
“The thing I’m most proud of is we never missed the playoffs in my 12 years,” Mr. Zarembka added. “It didn’t matter if the high school team had a good year or not, come the summer the kids just seemed to gel together.”
As well as the players, Mr. Zarembka noted the support he received from all of his assistants, current and past. Mr. Fonseca, Chuck Thurber and John LaSalle comprised his staff for most of his managerial stay. Mr. Zarembka backed Ed McNaught, an assistant the last two years since Riverside merged with the East Bay program, as his successor to lead the team in the future.
“The league, the board ultimately has the final say, but I think Ed should be the manager going forward,” Mr. Zarembka said. “I had some very good coaching staffs through the years. I was lucky enough to work with some great people.
“And I think the program is in good shape. I think the merger (with East Bay Post 8) last year was very positive. It definitely increased the talent pool. There was some concern it would be the Barrington kids against the East Providence kids, but that never happened. The players got along well. And the Junior Division teams both had good years. Keith Marquis with the Post 10 team and Paul Bannon with the Post 8 team both did a great job. I think that bodes well for the future of the program.”
Mr. Zarembka will undoubtedly miss the relationships with his players and coaches as he steps away. He will also miss being involved in the sport, which he has been a passion of his since childhood.
“I’m going to spend more time at the beach and more time with the family. That’s for sure. I don’t think people realize how much time we spend on the team. We play four or five nights a week. When the game is over we do the stats, call the newspapers and get ready for the next day. It’s very time consuming,” Mr. Zarembka said.
“The bottom line is I love the game of baseball. It’s in my blood. I’m certainly going to miss it, but I’m also looking forward to the time away,” he concluded. “I always think about what I believe is the best baseball movie ever made, ‘Field of Dreams.’ Like the characters in the movie, I thought I would eventually just fade away into the cornfield. It didn’t quite happen that way, but I feel good about what I helped accomplish with Post 10 over the last 12 years.”