Some sad news to start your weekend everyone. I received an email from Coventry’s Tracey Colucci this morning informing me of the passing of James Joseph “Jim” Spearman. Spearman was a fixture in Coventry baseball as a coach, as a mentor, as a friend, as a fan for over a half a century. I cannot begin to sum up his impact and his place in Coventry baseball in one paragraph or two, so I would like to share some of the tributes that I have received this morning through Tracey with you.
Before I do, I wanted to mention that Tracey and I spoke about Mr. Spearman last Spring around this time. Tracey was glowing in her praise for how Mr. Spearman had positively affected her son Anthony over the years, and asked me if I would be interested in writing a story about him. I was over the top excited and did manage to call and even text Mr. Spearman on a few occasions. Here is my text to him and his humble reply.
- From me: “Mr. Spearman, Tracey said you are a great influence on local players. Those are my favorite stories to write about. Let me know if you are interested in telling yours.”
- His reply: “I am not a very interesting person. Just an old man coaching baseball, check around and others will tell you the same. But, if you think it will help get volunteers and help youth sports and youth programs, I will do it.”
“If it will help others,” without knowing the man, I somehow know this Coventry legend was unselfish and friendly and always willing to make others have a better life. I was so fortunate to have met him, spoke to him, and got to know why everyone in Coventry just raved about Coach Jim. Here are some tributes along with some photos shared by Tracey this morning:
“Not sure if you knew that us here in Coventry have lost a baseball legend!!! Coach Jim Spearman passes away Thursday night unexpectedly. He was at the field earlier that night passing out uniforms for Opening Night then went home since he wasn’t feeling well. All that knew him are so heart broken with the loss of such an amazing guy and Coach!! Coach Spearman was a great family friend, an amazing Coach who touched the lives of so many players and families 50 years, gave service to our country and town, loved his family, and so loved the game of baseball and being on the Babe Ruth field, but most importantly was a genuine and loyal man. I feel so fortunate that Anthony knew him and had him for a Coach for so many years at Coventry Babe Ruth…he truly loved my son (and all who played in Coventry Babe Ruth) and the both of them have such a love for the game!!! Coach Jim will be so missed!! This is a unbelievable loss. There will never be another to fill his shoes. A baseball legend in town!! We will talking about him in the days, years and decades to come!! “
One Dad, Christian Shaw said it best in his FB post… “To say you knew him, was to say you loved him. He could make the least-gifted player on the team feel special, all while keeping the stud of the team humble. His molding of adolescence men was so critical both on and off the field that his influence will be measured in decades not years! If you were lucky enough to converse with him off the field (watching the game, instead of coaching) you were in for a pleasant surprise…Mr. Spearman had more stories than Dr. Seuss and his stories usually ended with a life lesson or a chuckle! Coventry Babe Ruth will have a void that can never be filled, but I’m grateful that I had the pleasure to know him for the 10+ years (of his 50+ year career). He impacted so many baseball players that it’s unfathomable. You will always be remembered by the Shaw Clan because you brought so much joy to my boys at the point in their baseball lives that they were questioning some coach’s motivation. You brought back the love of the game for them and they now again smile on the diamond. Rest In Peace Sir, you sure as hell deserve it!”
For those of you that would like to pay tribute, there is a memorial service on Monday, April 25th at Iannotti Funeral Home, Coventry. His obituary can be found by clicking this link – Coach Jim Spearman. In the last line of Mr. Spearman’s obituary, and fittingly “In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Coventry Babe Ruth League, P.O. Box 117, Coventry, RI 02816 would be appreciated.“
James Joseph Spearman – always thinking of helping others, even in passing. To the Rhode Island Baseball Community and more specifically the Coventry Baseball community, I am so sorry for your loss. Rest In Peace, Coach Jim!