For some people, baseball is a hobby. For Old Orchard Beach resident Rod Choroszy, the game has been his life’s passion.

Choroszy’s dedication to baseball ”“ which includes several years of playing the game and decades in the coaching ranks ”“ is about to pay off when he’s inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

“I’m kind of a baseball junkie. I’ve been in baseball as a player or a coach since I was 8 years old … so that’s about 58 consecutive years,” said Choroszy, who was not expecting the call to the hall of fame. “I was kind of surprised and really pleased.”

Choroszy put together an impressive career at Thornton Academy, which included a pair of All-Telegram League selections.

The OOB resident has plenty of special memories from his playing days at TA ”“ with most centering around head coach Phil Curtis.

“I remember being really impressed with my coach, Phil Curtis. He’s kind of the guy that set the tone for me for loving the sport,” said Choroszy. “He was pretty passionate and liked us to be enthusiastic and have fun playing the game. I really enjoyed playing for him.”

Choroszy remembers working hard for Curtis, but also having plenty of fun.

“Everyday at practice, he kind of made it a challenge and also made it fun. I learned quite a bit from him,” said Choroszy.

The lessons he learned from Curtis helped Choroszy earn a chance to play for coach Jack Butterfield at the University of Maine.

“It was kind of an extension from what I got from Phil, carried onto Jack. My high school experience laid a great foundation,” said Choroszy. “I felt that Phil was very knowledgeable and he coached like every one of us were going to become a coach. We did a lot of situations and things like that which really helped me later on.”

Choroszy has fond memories of his days as a reliever with the University of Maine.

“College days are probably pretty enjoyable for everybody, but having baseball too, made it even more enjoyable. Playing for Jack Butterfield is probably the biggest treat of my baseball career,” said Choroszy. “He was tough, but he was a father figure to most of us … he helped us on and off the field and his knowledge of the game was superior.”

Choroszy ”“ along with the rest of the players Butterfield coached ”“ were stunned by his death in 1979, which came just three years after he left the coaching world and became a scout for the New York Yankees.

“Looking back on it, I wish I had stayed in contact with him,” said Choroszy. “I still had a lot to learn from him, but unfortunately that part is over.”

The Thornton Academy grad took the lessons learned from both Curtis and Butterfield and has put together one of the most impressive coaching careers in Maine history.

Choroszy coached at South Portland High School for 16 years before moving to the collegiate level. He would spend three years as an assistant at Southern Maine Community College, two years as the St. Joseph’s College pitching coach and has spent the last five years as an assistant at the University of Southern Maine.

The former TA standout is thrilled to be working with USM head coach Ed Flaherty.

“The situation I have now at USM is like a dream to pretty much end my career with that program, which is arguably one of the best Division III programs in the country,” said Choroszy.

Despite being 58 years into his baseball career, Choroszy is still as passionate as ever about the game of baseball.

“I try to do at least one thing with baseball every single day. Whether it be reading an article, watching a game, coaching some kids, it’s kind of gone beyond a passion ”“ it’s almost an obsession,” said Choroszy.

For Choroszy, the honor of being inducted into his home state’s Hall of Fame is staggering.

“It’s kind of overwhelming and really humbling,” said Choroszy. “The Hall of Fame organization does an unbelievable job. To be included with (the best of Maine baseball) is kind of unbelievable. It’s quite an honor and I’m really just overwhelmed.”

— Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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