By Jim Sullivan
---- — American Legion Post 150 catcher Tyler Chaisson was all set to join the baseball team at St. John’s Prep in his junior year, but it didn’t happen.
“I feel like Coach Yanchus didn’t really see me,” Chaisson said of the Eagles’ legendary coach, Pat Yanchus, whose team became Catholic Conference champs this year. “He didn’t think that I could add anything to the team. I’m guessing that’s why he cut me. The other coaches liked me, but he thought I couldn’t offer as much as the other players.”
A tough break and with no junior varsity squad to join, Chaisson was out of luck on the diamond. But the Newburyport native made the best of a bad situation, joining the spring track team, where he ran the 100 and 200 meters, eventually running the 100 in the Division 1 State Finals.
But with the summer on the horizon, it was time to think baseball again.
“You should have seen this kid, first day of tryouts,” said Nor’Easters coach Tim Southall. “He was so nervous, he was shaking trying to take batting practice.”
Although Southall liked what he saw, once again, Chaisson didn’t make the opening day starting lineup. It looked like he would split his time riding the bench and playing with the junior team. But that’s when things changed for him.
“We were kind of slumping at the start of the season,” Chaisson said of a young Nor’Easters team that started the season 1-3. “So Coach told us that he had to switch things up and we were going to move people around. He told me at the beginning of the season that he was going to be giving me a chance and he came up to me and said, ‘This is your chance.’ And I’ve just tried to take advantage of it.”
“When you get an opportunity, you’ve got to take advantage of it and he’s doing it,” said Southall. “We just weren’t playing good baseball (at the time). And even when we got to 2-3, we just weren’t playing well, fundamentally. So, that was when it was time to kind of make some changes.”
Amesbury’s Mac Short was moved to DH, Chaisson started squatting behind the dish and the Nor’Easters are now 7-3.
“Mac seems to hit better when he is just DH’ing,” Southall said of Short, who made the senior team as a sophomore last year. “With the summer and the heat, it’s been a long season for Mac with the high school season and stuff and it wears down on you. The catching position is tough. It’s nice being able to give him a little break and he can just focus on hitting and he’s done a great job with the transition. And the proof is in the pudding. The team has improved and we’re on a nice little streak here.”
“It’s been going well,” agreed Chaisson. “It’s still kind of sinking in. I’m still kind of realizing how much of an all-star team this is and hopefully I can use this to remind myself that I can make teams like this.”
Chaisson may not need that much of a reminder; he just made the Bay State Games, where he will be playing along with current Legion teammate, Georgetown’s Colby Ingraham.
“Tyler is a kid that I had heard a lot of good things about,” said Southall. “He came in and he’s done everything that I’ve asked him to do and he’s taken that opportunity and run with it. I’m thrilled with him.”
Once the summer is over, Chaisson is looking into playing in net for the Eagles’ soccer team and has an interest in studying medicine when he gets to college. But before college, the St. John’s diamond will beckon once again.
“I’ve heard from the assistant coaches that I should definitely try out next year,” said Chaisson. “So, I’m preparing for that. I would love to play for them. I (hope) they need some help next year.”