What better way to honor a man whose passion is baseball than to play baseball.
Earlier this spring Jeff Blydell, a well-known baseball coach in the North Shore Baseball League and a former star athlete in Lynn, was diagnosed with melanoma. Blydell, who is also an English High assistant baseball coach, has been undergoing treatment and since word of his illness came out, the North Shore baseball community has come together to support him with Coach Blydell Strong serving as the rallying call.
On Sunday, July 12, the North Shore Baseball League, with help from the North Shore Navigators, will hold a Coach Blydell Strong Day. All 10 NSBL teams will be in action. There will be five games with the first beginning at 10 a.m. with the last one scheduled for 8 p.m.
Blydell’s son, Chris, plays for the North Shore Phillies, the team his father formed nine years ago. He said his father, who was back in the hospital this week to treat a blood clot, is looking forward to the day.
“Baseball is a big part of his life,” the younger Blydell said. “It definitely keeps him going, seeing me and my teammates play. Having this day for him is really special. It’s a day of baseball. It sounds like a perfect day for him.”
Blydell said his father has undergone surgery and radiation but has still managed to not only get to almost every Phillies game, but also coach. When he was getting ready to undergo brain surgery soon after being diagnosed, Blydell said his father was asking for baseball scores.
Chris Carroll, the new English High football coach, coaches the North Shore Phillies with Jeff Blydell. Carroll said NSBL commissioner Mike Parker and vice president Steve Gridley have been the driving force behind Coach Blydell Strong Day. The North Shore Navigators have also stepped up to the plate with the field and the concessions.
“The Navigators are honored to be part of such a special day,” the team said in a statement issued by Joe Gill, director of public relations. “Coach Blydell has been a staple of baseball on the North Shore and a mentor to many players. We are glad to help honor him.”
Carroll said in addition to the Navigators, each team in the NSBL is donating at least $100. The league and the Umpires Association is also helping out. The day’s festivities will also feature a number of raffles with the proceeds going to help Blydell.
“Jeff is such a good guy,” Carroll said. “He’s hard working. He’ll work with any kid who wants to work, whether it’s in baseball, softball, basketball or football. He loves sports.”
Blydell (and wife Bonnie) passed a love of sports on to their children, Jason, Chris and Jenna. All three were excellent high school athletes. Jason attended Dartmouth College where he played football and baseball. He is currently a captain in the Marine Corps. Chris graduated from Framingham State where he played football and baseball. Jenna didn’t play at the college level, but she’s currently works in sales for Sports Hub radio. Chris Blydell said a lot of family members and friends plan to be on hand to make the day special.
“They’ll give him a bunch of support and make him realize how many people out there are rooting for him and praying for him,” the younger Blydell said.
The 10 a.m. game will pit the Kingston Night Owls against Lynn Brickyard. Peabody Champions plays North Shore Storm at 12:30 followed by the Bistany Bombers vs. the North Shore Phillies at 3 p.m., the North Reading A’s vs. the Manchester Marlins at 5:30 p.m. and the Swampscott Sox vs. the Beverly Recs at 8 p.m. Game times are approximate.