Cochin, John (2009)
Born in Sanford, Maine in 1936, John Cochin, the son of an Armenian immigrant, didn’t have a clue what baseball was all about until the final day of school in 1946 when Eugene Gerry, a Sanford policeman and John’s next door neighbor, asked the impressionable 10-year old if he’d like to learn the game of baseball.
“I said sure,” remembers John. “He showed me all about the game, how to hit, throw and catch and explained the rules of the game. I was hooked in no time.”
The summer of 1946 was a perfect time to fall in love with baseball as Red Sox stars Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky captured young John’s heart and mind. He and Gerry listened to Red Sox games on Gerry’s porch all summer and John Cochin’s baseball journey had begun.
The game came naturally to John as the lefty first baseman and pitcher moved from the sandlots at Emerson School to organized baseball. At 14, John was a member of the 1951 Thomas W. Cole Post American Legion team that won the state championship and was New England runner-up.
John played every inning in each of four years for Sanford High School under Coach Joe Nunan, splitting time between the mound, first base and the outfield. John was an All-Telegram League selection in 1955.
John’s baseball career continued to flourish at the collegiate level. After a year at Northeastern, John transferred to Nasson College in Springvale where he compiled a career batting average of .380 over 3 seasons.
After a year of teaching and coaching baseball and basketball a Limerick High School, John landed a job teaching high school chemistry in Sanford in 1963 and served as assistant baseball coach to Bob Blouin from 1966-71. He took over as head coach in 1972 and his teams compiled a 149-81 record over 17 seasons, winning Sanford’s second Telegram League championship in 1974 and first-ever state championship in 1978. He was named Maine High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1978.
At one point, John coached a Babe Ruth team, a Little League team, and the Sanford varsity baseball team all at the same time, due to a shortage of youth coach volunteers. In addition to coaching American Legion baseball for several years, he and Norman “Pie” Fournier coached the Sanford Little League All-Stars to the District championship in 1962, earning a berth in the state tournament held in Bangor.
John’s strengths as a coach were summed up by long-time assistant Roland Cote: “Cochin knew talent well and what to do with that talent to benefit the team. He knew how to position his players and, best of all, he made it fun. We worked together very well always talking things over before we made a decision.”
John retired from full-time teaching in 2008 after a 48-year career, 45 of them as a chemistry teacher at Sanford High. He still serves as sports editor of the Sanford News, a position he has held since its first issue in March of 1980. His weekly articles report on all Sanford high school and junior high sports as well as the local youth leagues. An avid historian of the game John has chronicled the exploits of Tommy Cousens, Mimi Pickett, Paul Demers and the brothers Walter and Henry L’Heureux, Sanford’s semi-pro heroes of the 1950’s, and was instrumental in securing their deserved niche in the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
In retirement John enjoys watching the Sanford Mainers play in Goodall Park which he and numerous other friends of Sanford baseball helped restore after a devastating fire several years ago.
An avid hiker, John is a proud member of the New Hampshire 4000 Footer Club, having climbed all 48 mountains in that state with that elevation or higher. Today, John, with a boost from Eugene Gerry, you’ve scaled yet another peak, and the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame welcomes you to the mountaintop.