BIDDEFORD — C.J. Bolduc of Sanford High took batting and infield practice before a recent game against Biddeford, fielding several grounders at first base and showing an accurate arm throwing home or to second.
But that would be the extent of his time on the field, as it has been for every game this season.
Once the game started, Bolduc was in the dugout reprising his role as team motivator. Every team needs or certainly could use a holler guy, someone who encourages teammates and keeps things lively.
His passion for baseball began in Little League, which he said was “probably the prime of my playing career.
“We had some games under the lights and I loved it. That’s when I knew I wanted to be involved in baseball.”
Bolduc, a senior, became a student of the game. While he wished his playing career had continued through high school, his love of the game hasn’t diminished. In fact, it’s grown.
Bolduc is a member of the Spartans’ baseball team, like the other 17 players on the roster. He could get called into action by Coach Mark Boissonneault. He just hasn’t yet. There are players ahead of him, like big first baseman Jed Scott, who are regulars.
While he said not playing “puts a damper on my mood,” one would never know it. Bolduc is always upbeat, encouraging and into the game, said Scott. Boissonneault likens Bolduc to having a bench coach.
“I know my role and I’m fine with it,” Bolduc said. “My job is to yell and keep the energy level up. When someone is hanging their head, I go right to him and tell them they have to shake it off. Baseball is a team game and you can’t get things done unless everyone’s head is into it.
“I like to think of myself as important as anyone else.”
His teammates agree.
“We wouldn’t have cheering in the dugout if it wasn’t for C.J.,” said Scott, who will play football this fall at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“People cheer but C.J. really starts it. At home games he gets the crowd into it. He just loves baseball and being out here. He doesn’t have to touch the field. He loves watching the game and practicing with the team.
“C.J. is the epitome of a team player.”
Bolduc is in charge of Roscoe the Run Shark, a stuffed animal adopted as the team mascot after the second game of the season.
“We went out to dinner and there was this machine with stuffed animals in it and the shark was on top,” said Bolduc. “You have to use a claw to get them out and I think we spent something like six dollars trying to get Roscoe out. I hold it during games.”
Roscoe is the team’s good-luck charm.
“C.J. has everyone rub it before they get up to hit,” said Scott. “If you forget, he’ll come out of the dugout and rub it on you.”
Another favorite routine of the players is the seven claps that Bolduc, of course, leads.
“He’ll yell all of our nicknames and then make us do seven claps. That helps to get us going,” said Scott.
Why seven claps? There are seven innings to a high school baseball game.
“It’s all superstitions,” said Bolduc.
While Bolduc hopes to get into a game, he acknowledges his skills in relation to others on the team.
“I was looking for a pinch hitter earlier in the season,” said Boissonneault. “It was kind of a pressure situation and I told him to hit. He looked at me and said, “˜You’ve got someone better on the bench to hit.’
“It was an unselfish act. C.J. puts the team first.”
Boissonneault calls Bolduc an effective and articulate spokesman.
“We have a radio show in town where they ask all the teams and some of the players to talk about the upcoming season,” he said.
“C.J. was one of the seniors I brought to the show. He was so well-spoken that the station asked him back later.”
After graduation, Bolduc plans to attend Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.
“I’m hopeful of making the team at SMCC,” said Bolduc. “The other players might be more talented but there’s more to baseball than talent.
“You have to love the game and the people you’re around. I’m a team player. I’m thinking of coaching and feel I would be a good one.”
“I see C.J. being a coach at some level down the road,” he said.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: TomChardPPH