Knight, Rick (2006)
Think Rick Knight would go “big-shot” after guiding the Westbrook Little League All-Star team to Maine and East Regional championships last summer and a 5th place finish in the 2005 Little League World Series?
Not a chance. Try to catch Rick any day this spring and it’s likely you’ll find him at the Westbrook Little League complex scrambling to get the fields ready for that night’s game. Plenty of laurels could have been rested on but self-promotion is not in Rick’s vocabulary. The retired Verizon executive is much more at home exhorting his current Eagles team then basking in the spotlight of last summer’s glory.
Rick grew up in Westbrook, the youngest of eight children. Rick’s dad, Lawrence Knight, was one of the top pitchers of his era and sparked the baseball flame in Rick, regaling his son with tales of pitchers’ duels against Husky Aube at the storied Warren League Grounds and listening to his beloved Red Sox on the radio.
Rick’s keen aptitude for the game was evident, especially, when, after graduating from Westbrook High School in 1970 and St. Joseph’s College in 1974, Rick was hired by New England Telephone, and as part of the management trainee program, was encouraged to participate in a volunteer activity. Rick chose to become involved in two worthy organizations – Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and Westbrook Little League - and has made enormous contributions to each over the past 25 years.
The Rick Knight coaching resume is impressive enough:
Six time city champs (85, 90, 95, 97, 04, 06) & 4 second places finishes
Eight All-Star district championships 85, 87, 89, 93, 94, 02*, 03, 05
Five time All-Star state championships for Westbrook (10-year-old champs 1994 & 2003 – 12-year-old champs 1985, 02,* & 05),
One New England Championship & trip to World Series in 2005
Nominated by Little League Inc. as their candidate for 2005 Youth Coach of the Year to “Baseball America”
*Served as Coach instead of Manager.
Look behind the trophies and you’ll see a man who personifies a delicate blend of attributes necessary to being a successful Little League coach.
“He has a gentle and supportive but intense coaching style,” says longtime friend and fellow coach Bob Haskell. His sister Cynthia McGarry adds, “He teaches kids how to respect adults and each other, how to be part of a team, how to work together for the good of all and most importantly, how to develop self-respect.” Run of the mill stuff when you grow up in a large family, but life-long lessons passed down to Westbrook’s youth by Rick Knight.
Rick’s mastery of the 12-year-old Little League mind is not purely psychological. He’s a stickler for teaching fundamentals and prides himself on organizing drills and practices that keep kids enthusiastic and attentive. An avid reader of instructional books and an eager participant at coaching clinics, Rick wears a teacher’s mantle while expertly spurring on and gently reining in his young charges’ competitive nature.
One example of Knight School: Every member of a Rick Knight-coached All-Star team plays at least 3 innings every game, even though one inning is the minimum required by tournament rules. Rick’s approach has consistently proved successful by producing 1) a happier team and 2) more kids who contribute later in the game.
Rick’s success in guiding a plucky band of 12-year-old All-Stars to the mountaintop of Little League baseball in 2005 was a huge boon for the City of Westbrook. Of even greater importance, though, is that Rick Knight will continue to coach his beloved Eagles and provide instruction and inspiration to young ballplayers in Westbrook for years to come.
AMERICAN JOURNAL Posted May 6, 2015 Updated March 8, 2016
Westbrook's 2005 Little League World Series team honored
BY ADAM BIRT
“I’ve been coaching Little League baseball for 35 years,” says Rick Knight, who managed the then-boys on their spectacular run, “and this was the most talented team I ever coached. They also played very well together as a team, with the right kind of chemistry for success.”
10 years later, Westbrook Little League team reflects on magical run
The 2005 team advanced to the Little League World Series.
BY STEVE SOLLOWAY STAFF WRITER . August 16, 2015
“Even today there are conversations in the coffee shop about that team,” said Lou Lampron, a fixture in Westbrook community sports for decades. “That summer was a special time in Westbrook. Any time, at any level, you reach the World Series it’s special. I don’t care if it’s the Red Sox or a team of 12-year-olds.”
Much like Boston’s historic comeback against the New York Yankees to reach the 2004 World Series 10 months earlier, Westbrook mounted an improbable comeback to win the New England Regional and earn a trip to Pennsylvania.
Westbrook didn’t win the World Series, but somehow, that didn’t seem to matter. Maine had already embraced them. Only the Suburban Little League of Portland in 1951 and Augusta East in 1971 had preceded Westbrook in the World Series. Neither of the other teams had the benefit of playing in front of ESPN cameras.
They won’t forget Knight, either. He was 53 then and recently had left his position in management for Verizon. The 2005 All-Star squad wasn’t his first team or his last. This year’s Westbrook Little League All-Star team reached the state tournament.
“Rick was great at teaching and coaching,” said Lemay. “He was stern, and if we ever started to lose focus, he got us back on track. We were the team that could afford playing loose. There was no pressure from Rick, no pressure from our parents.”
Rick Knight has returned to the World Series several times, most recently two or three years ago. He and a friend got to the U.S. championship game early but the grandstands were full. He went to the ticket window anyway. The tickets are free but fans need one for a seat.
Sorry, Knight was told. No more tickets. Knight was wearing his 2005 World Series cap. The designs vary from year to year but the colors don’t. Someone else in the ticket office moved to the window and spoke to Knight.
“You were the manager of the team from Maine, weren’t you. How many tickets do you want?”
Knight and his friend got two, right behind home plate.