The Salem State University baseball team has been on a roll lately and one of the people contributing to the Vikings’ success is Lynn native Al Donovan.
Donovan, an outstanding pitcher for Lynn Tech back in the early 1980s, took on the role of pitching coach for at Salem State back in the fall under head coach Mike Ward. Now living in Nahant, Donovan brings a wealth of experience to the job. He played at the college level and for the past 10 years, has been a pitching instructor to many high school players on the North Shore. He is also the founder of the North Shore Tigers, a four-year old AAU baseball program.
“I knew Mike from years ago working at camps and clinics and playing ball. I have a lot of respect for him. I see the time he puts in. He does a phenomenal job with the kids,” Donovan said, adding the timing was perfect for him to take the job.
Although the father of two boys, Tyler and Connor, has been focusing much of his attention at the youth level in recent years, he’s no stranger to working with older players. He was a volunteer coach at his alma mater, Central Connecticut State University for a year, before going on to serve as a freshman coach at North Reading High and an assistant coach at Lynn Tech.
Donovan graduated from Lynn Tech in 1984 after racking up a 24-3 career pitching record over the course of three years. He went on to play at Western Carolina before transferring to Central Connecticut State University where he made the 1987 Division 1 All-New England team. He threw a no hitter while there and left with school records for innings pitched in a single season and wins.
Donovan went on to play and coach in the North Shore Baseball League and serve as its commissioner from 1996-2000. He’s a member of the NSBL Hall of Fame.
“Al and I met probably 24 or 25 years ago. We were working (former North Reading High baseball coach) Frank Carey’s camps as young coaches,” Ward said.
Ward said he always respected Donovan and when he was looking for a pitching coach, Donovan seemed like a good fit.
“He has a great background as a pitcher and in working with pitchers,” Ward said. “I think he’s a great addition to our program.”
Up until a few years ago, Donovan was very involved in Lynn Youth Hockey, serving as president for several years. These days, he works his love of baseball (serving as pitching coach at Salem and director and coach in the North Shore Tigers program), around his job at Oxford & Associates, a high tech staffing company. Donovan co-owns the North Shore Tigers with former Lynn Tech baseball standout Jerson Perez.
Donovan is very excited about the Vikings’ prospects this season. The team (12-5) had an eight-game winning streak heading into Wednesday’s game against Plymouth State University.
“It’s an outstanding team,” Donovan said. “It’s a young (22 freshmen and sophomores), hard-working team.”
The Vikings have several local players
in the mix including three who played at St. Mary’s – shortstop Ryan Beliveau of Lynn and pitcher Matt Turmenne of Peabody, who are co-captains, and pitcher Sean Buckland of Lynn. Beliveau and Turmenne are seniors and Buckland is a junior.
“We’re doing well, plugging away,” Donovan said.
Donovan said the Vikings have been fortunate to get so many games in considering the weather. The winter that wouldn’t end has forced many college teams to postpone games until their fields are ready, but Salem State has a turf field and has been able to get in all but two of its games. A couple of the teams the Vikings were scheduled to play on the road came to Salem because the field was ready.
“It’s really been a good ride so far,” Donovan said. “It’s been a short ride, but a good ride.”
Donovan’s son, Tyler, is a sophomore at St. Mary’s and a player on the junior varsity team. His younger son, Connor, is a seventh grader at Sacred Heart.