BOSTON — Brian Butterfield should have known better, but he always liked the way Cornell running back Ed Marinaro celebrated a touchdown, clutching the football up, his hands held high.

Butterfield, then a skinny running back for Orono High, caught a 30-yard touchdown pass against rival Old Town just before halftime.

“Well, when I scored, I raised my hands and the ball, and walked through the end zone,” Butterfield said.

The next week, Brian received a phone call from his father, Jack, who wasn’t at the game but had just watched film of his son’s score and celebration.

“He called me on a Friday,” Brian remembered. “He said ‘If you decide you want to do that again, instead of handing the ball to the referee, that will be your last football game.’

“Enough said on that one.”

As usual, the message delivered from Jack Butterfield to his son was concise, clear and firm.

“I’m so thankful he was there to teach me right from wrong, and to tell me no,” said Brian, now 58 and the third-base coach of the Boston Red Sox. “Sometimes you don’t understand it as a young person, but as you get older you start seeing the way things are. You understand it and appreciate it greatly.”

Butterfield doesn’t need it to be Father’s Day to remember how Jack Butterfield influenced him – and indirectly every player Brian Butterfield has taught, from Derek Jeter to Xander Bogaerts.

Jack Butterfield died in a car accident in 1979 at the age of 50.

“I miss him all the time, even to this day,” Butterfield said. “There are things I just want to share with him or ask him his advice.”

Butterfield spoke about his dad from the Red Sox dugout at Fenway Park. But it was in the visitors’ dugout that Butterfield first appeared at Fenway in uniform. He was 7 years old.

• • • • •

A graduate of Westborough High in Massachusetts, Jack Butterfield enrolled at the University of Maine and became a two-sport standout in football and baseball in the early 1950s. He then coached football, basketball and baseball at Foxcroft Academy for two years (the ’54 baseball team won the state title with a 32-1 record) before returning to Orono.

Initially coaching three sports, Butterfield eventually settled in as the head baseball coach and an assistant with the Black Bears’ football team.

Soon, little Brian Butterfield was a fixture on campus, watching practices and serving as the baseball team’s batboy.

“He was around all the time,” said Stump Merrill, who was a sophomore catcher on the 1964 UMaine team that reached the College World Series. Merrill would go on to manage the New York Yankees – and it was Jack Butterfield who got Merrill his first job with the Yankees.

Back in ’64, Maine needed to beat Northeastern at Fenway Park to qualify for the World Series. The Black Bears not only won that game but were the surprise of the World Series, finishing third. Jack Butterfield was named the national coach of the year.

“He was a great man and a father figure,” said Al Livingston, the former Cheverus High baseball coach who was Butterfield’s team captain in 1972. “We were always so prepared.”

Merrill said Butterfield “took the discipline of a football coach and employed it in baseball – everything was done in time blocks, with drills … you knew where you were supposed to be, and you better be there.”

While Merrill called Butterfield “very much” the disciplinarian, he also experienced the father-figure side of his coach.

“My junior year, I didn’t have enough money to go back to school. The Butterfields took me in,” Merrill said. “Brian and I shared a room.”

The college player and the 8-year-old became buddies.

“The kid would stand on a milk crate and beat me in pool,” Merrill said.

• • • • •

When the Yankees and Red Sox play these days, it’s common to see Brian Butterfield and Merrill chatting during batting practice.

Then again, Butterfield is always visiting with someone before a game. He not only has cultivated relationships during 36 years of professional baseball, but has developed a reputation as one of the best instructors in the game.

“People gravitate to superstar players. Well, I call him a superstar coach,” said Seattle Mariners scout Bill Masse, who both played under and coached with Butterfield. “Butter is the epitome of the baseball guy. It’s just his attitude. There’s a lot of fun, but there’s also a lot of seriousness.”

And there’s always instruction.

Brian Butterfield’s reputation as a teacher solidified in the fall of 1993. An infield instructor for the Yankees, Butterfield took a young shortstop named Derek Jeter under his care and taught him how to field.

Jeter had just finished his first full pro season in the minor leagues, committing 56 errors. There was talk of moving him to a new position. But first, Butterfield would get a crack at him.

Butterfield put Jeter through 35 straight days of drills, hitting an exhaustive number of ground balls and later watching video with him, analyzing Jeter’s technique.

Jeter would later tell the Wall Street Journal that Butterfield’s instruction was “five of the most important weeks of my career.” Jeter made 25 errors in 1994, reached the majors in 1995 and went on to win five Gold Glove awards.

Butterfield made it to the majors in 1994, joining Buck Showalter’s Yankees staff as first-base coach.

Since then, Butterfield has coached with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays. He joined the Red Sox before the 2013 season.

Butterfield’s prime project lately has been Xander Bogaerts, a gifted athlete who was not considered major league-ready at shortstop when he was first called up to Boston in 2013.

For the past two spring trainings, it was nearly impossible to see Bogaerts without Butterfield nearby. If Butterfield was not talking to him in the clubhouse, he was putting Bogaerts through extra drills before the team’s regular practice.

“He’s always on me,” Bogaerts said, “but I know that’s what it takes to be great.”

And Bogaerts has reason to listen to Butterfield, a coach who has taught the likes of Jeter (Bogaerts’ favorite player) and other prime prospects how to play the game right.

“He’s extremely well-respected. Nothing was handed to him. He’s earned it,” Merrill said. “It’s the way he gets after it, his ability to teach and the passion he has for what he’s doing – that about sums it up.

“There’s a lot of Jack in him.”

• • • • •

Jack Butterfield never directly coached his son in sports, especially with so many responsibilities on campus.

“But Jack made time for Brian and for his two sisters,” said Patricia Butterfield, Brian’s mother who lives in Dixmont. “They were very close.”

Jack and Brian enjoyed golf and, of course, excursions to Fenway – as fans. “It was the boys’ trip,” Brian said.

During the summer, Brian played in youth baseball leagues and Jack watched. During the school year, when Brian wasn’t playing school sports, he was watching his dad coach.

“Brian was always around, not because Jack asked him to be but because he wanted to be there,” said John Wolfgram, one of Maine’s most renowned high school football coaches, who played football and worked under Jack Butterfield at Maine.

Wolfgram didn’t play baseball at Maine but still visited the diamond to watch Jack Butterfield.

“I hung around the baseball team because I wanted to learn from him,” Wolfgram said. “His coaching technique would apply to any sport.

“Jack was the complete package as a coach. Extremely well prepared. Excellent motivator. Excellent teacher. Intense but with a great sense of humor.”

While still at Maine, Wolfgram coached baseball, including a summer team that included Brian.

“Brian was not a great athlete, but a good athlete who did everything well,” Wolfgram said. “He understood the game inside and out.”

Brian Butterfield would go on to play football, basketball and baseball at Orono High. Before his senior year, in 1974, his father took the head baseball coaching job at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Jack and Patricia moved south while Brian stayed with friends to finish at Orono High.

Because of his commitments, Jack never saw Brian play football. But during Brian’s senior year, the Orono coaching staff express-mailed game film to Jack in Florida so he could watch Brian in action. That’s what prompted the phone call after Brian’s Ed Marinaro impersonation.

“He knew when to kick me in the rear end,” Brian said. “He also knew when to lift me up.”

The lift would come soon.

Never seeing his son play football bothered Jack. Orono’s last game in 1974 would be at Foxcroft Academy, but Jack and Patricia were in Florida.

“He turned to me and said, ‘We’re going,’ ” Patricia remembered. “He said ‘I’m going to see my son play.’ ”

They didn’t tell Brian they were flying up.

“I was staying at my friend’s house and when I woke up, mom and dad were already at the breakfast table,” Brian said. “We ended up winning the game, 16-14. That was really emotional for me. Knowing mom and dad were there to watch, it’s one of my greatest memories.”

• • • • •

Brian Butterfield stayed in Orono the next year and played second base for a Black Bears team that again reached the College World Series. Longing for baseball in a warmer environment. Butterfield transferred to Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida.

Jack Butterfield also changed jobs, moving from college coaching to become a scout for the Yankees in September 1976. Five months later he was named the Yankees’ director of player development.

Brian Butterfield’s college career soared. He was named national junior college player of the year in 1977, then moved on to Florida Southern College, winning the NCAA Division II national title in 1978, and finishing second in ’79.

Brian signed a minor league contract to play for the Yankees in the summer of 1979. After that season he returned to Florida Southern to finish some courses for his degree.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 1979, Jack Butterfield was killed in a car accident in Paramus, New Jersey. Brian was sleeping when his college coach, Joe Arnold, came into his dorm room.

“He hugged me and told me what happened,” Brian said. “It was quite a shock. We had a phone down the hall. I called mom right away. She had been trying to reach me. I flew home the next morning.”

Butterfield returned to the Yankees’ organization the next spring and played in the minors for them until 1982, reaching Triple-A.

He played for the Padres’ organization in 1983 before moving on to his destiny – as a coach – becoming an instructor with the Yankees in 1984.

Butterfield lived outside of Maine for years but returned in 2000. He and his wife, Jan, a Presque Isle native, live in Standish in the offseason.

Now that Brian is coaching third base for the Red Sox – and seen often on television – those who knew Jack as well as Brian occasionally do double takes.

“Brian has a lot of the same mannerisms,” Wolfgram said. “We used to call Jack ‘The Chin’ because he always stuck out his chin. You see Brian (in the third base coaching box) doing the same thing.”

If Brian Butterfield carries himself with confidence – and optimism – that’s not a coincidence. It was just another lesson passed on from Jack to Brian: Don’t hang your head.

Sage advice for a coach on a struggling Red Sox team.

“You have to keep getting off the mat,” Brian said. “One thing you can’t do, you can’t let these guys see you sweat. If you’re going to cry, go back to your hotel room, close the door and close the curtains, and then go ahead and cry.

“But once you get here to the field, you put a smile on and stick your chest out.

“I always remember that. If I was having a little pity party, dad wouldn’t let me go there. I can still hear him saying it: stick your chest out and let’s go.”


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