New Skipper Picked for Pierson Baseball

Posted on 17 November 2009

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By Benito Vila

The Brooklyn and Los Angles Dodgers had only two managers from 1954 to 1996; the Boston Red Sox had only three left fielders from 1939 to 1989. While the names of Hall-of-Fame managers Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda mean nothing to today’s high school players, the plaques of Ted Williams, Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice mean only a little more.

This coming spring the Pierson baseball Whalers will see a change on the field, one era ending and perhaps another beginning. On Monday night the Sag Harbor district school board accepted the appointment of middle school physical education instructor Jonathan Tortorella to the varsity baseball coaching position. That appointment leaves long-time Whaler coach Sean Crowley on the sidelines for the first time in 22 years.

Crowley came on to lead the baseball program for the first time in the spring of 1988, after joining the district as an elementary school physical education instructor in the fall of 1987. As the Pierson skipper, Crowley tallied 204 wins against 271 losses, leading his team to nine league and regional championships.

The most recent championship was posted this past spring, seniors Casey Crowley, Joe Mascali and Ryan Miller leading the Whalers to the county Class C title. That 2009 team put together a 12-6 regular season and swept two games from Port Jefferson for the crown.


Just as Alston had 23 consecutive one-year contracts before Dodger management made the move to Lasorda, Crowley has had 22 consecutive appointments to the varsity position, often without another district candidate applying for the assignment.

This year, Tortorella applied for the position, both he and Crowley interviewing before a committee made up Pierson Athletic Director Montgomery Granger, an administrator and a teacher. While there has been much speculation on why Tortorella was selected, it is fact that the committee made a unanimous recommendation to district superintendent Dr. John Gratto.

At the board meeting Monday, Crowley spoke on his own behalf, expressing well-worded disappointment but ultimately encouraging this year’s team to rally around their new coach. In closing, he mentioned the year 2032, 23 years from now, hoping his replacement has “as much success and fulfillment.”

Despite Crowley’s achievements, which include setting an all-time high for wins by any Pierson baseball coach, there are many who have not liked his managing style. He made mention of that in his remarks and cautioned that parental communication was a “slippery slope.”

An Awkward Moment

After Crowley’s speech and after the board stepped through its agenda, which included the acceptance of Tortorella’s nomination, board president Walter Wilcoxen opened the meeting to questions from the floor. In the course of that discourse, which covered many topics, Jeffrey Peters, Tom Gleeson and Walter Tice all spoke kindly of Coach Crowley and his contribution to the community.

Tice admonished the board for not making more of Crowley’s achievements, suggesting it should have amended its agenda to “include a motion of gratitude for the years of service given.”

That statement, preceded by a pointed assessment of how poor the relationship between the board and its employees has become [in the context of the teacher contract negotiations], caused board member Dan Hartnett to make a motion to do as Tice suggested.

The motion was immediately seconded by Ed Haye, but no one on the board spoke up or thanked Coach Crowley, leaving those assembled awkwardly waiting for something to be said and wondering aloud why nothing was done.

The long and short of Monday’s meeting remains that Pierson will have a new baseball coach for only the third time since 1969, Bob Vishno preceeding Crowley and staying through the 1987 season. That continuity is remarkable considering how much movement there has been in the district’s other academic and extra-curricular appointments in that time.

Still, Coach Tortorella is not new to the Pierson baseball program. He led a middle school team to a 9-1 mark last spring and coached much of this year’s varsity to a 13-3 mark at the JV level in 2008.

Coach Tortorella is a 1999 graduate of Southampton High School. He, like Crowley, is a graduate of Springfield College, earning his master’s degree there after undergraduate studies at the University of Massachusetts.

Jonathan Tortorella (top right) will be the new Pierson varsity baseball coach.

Sean Crowley (inset) led the Pierson Whalers baseball team for 22 years.

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18 Responses to “New Skipper Picked for Pierson Baseball”

  1. BobbyV says:

    It is the sag harbor way parents have too much say in the athletic programs. They are delusional and think their kid’s are much better than they are!

  2. yankees09 says:

    Did you read the article, it stated that two people applied for the job,and someone else got it. His statement of the parental communication is a slippery slope, I do believe the parents pay his and the other teachers and coaches salaries in their taxes, so yes he should have communicated with them and yes parents should have a say. But the article didn’t say that’s why he wasn’t rehired, and as far as kids not being good I hope you don’t work with kids either with that attitude. I personally wish Coach T all the best he is a great guy who has done wonders for the kids there.

  3. Long Over Due says:

    Over the years Mr. crowley has had more complaints against him than anyone I know. The way he has treated some of the students is criminal. He picks and chooses his favorites and the rest of the athletes suffer. Good job Board of Ed and Mr. Granger.

  4. BobbyV says:

    I don’t agree I believe this was another Board of Ed (Haye) hachet job.
    Now this so call AD wants to have parent weekly forums? Well don’t let the door hit you on the way ou Monty!

  5. yankees09 says:

    Oh ok I get it use the parents when you need something, like a contract by marching around town and carrying signs “Call a BOE member” but they shouldn’t speak of their kids experience in sports programs. Expect to them to be a part of their educational life but don’t get involved in athletics because they are delusional. And if it’s true that he has had so many complaints leave him there because parents shouldn’t speak. Please the year is 2009 and kids deserve the best

  6. Whaler says:

    I would like to first congratulate Coach T on being appointed the new Varsity baseball coach and wish him and his team the best of luck. As a former whaler who had a few differences with Coach Crowley I would still like to thank him for a championship season in 06 and congratulate him on his other achievements in 22 years of coaching.

  7. baseballfan says:

    I also played for Crowley and I am thrilled that Tort got the job it was time, the seasons of his pets and abuse can now be over, did anyone go the awards dinner? Please a joke! The end of a era that allows players to not be spoken to, the players to be over pitched, the players to whom refused to play for him now can, the sheer arrogance of him will be off the field. Yes the PLAYERS won the 06,not him his record speaks for itself 204 wins 271 loses, that’s not even 500. Thank you BOE and thank you Mr. Granger you got it right!!!

  8. Long Over Due says:

    Obviously Bobby V did not witness last years Varsity Baseball’s MVP. Nothing against Casey Crowley but, the team should have had some input into this award, which Crowley stated they had. He has also not witnessed what goes on. Good, no great ball players that REFUSED to play another season for Crowley, even in their Senior year. As far as Ed Haye, he does an outstanding job for this district and we should be greatful for the time that he puts in. Congrats T, you’ll do a fantastic job.

  9. baseballfan says:

    LOL the team did vote on MVP, and they did it as a group and that’s not who they picked. The awards were a JOKE! As was the program, now it will become a program with Tort. No tenure in athletics thank god for small favors.

  10. jfed says:

    I know many of you have things you think need to be said. My family has been on the bad side of this blogging, and trust me, it is very, very hurtful. If you like the way this all turned out, fine, but before you post something, remember, this man is someone’s son, someone’s husband and someone’s dad.

  11. baseballfan says:

    Yes jfed that is true as the players that had him where someone’s son, someone’s grandson and someone’s brother.

  12. Buzz says:

    I can’t believe how Sag Harbor treated a loyal, dedicated, hard-working, successful teacher and coach. Sag Harbor had such a good reputation but now things are changing with the new board, AD, and Sup. Some of these blogs are slander and could have legal consequences. The Sag Harbor Express should remove these blogs that are lies immediately. Many people in the community, the faculty, former students and athletes are behind Coach S. Crowley and will continue to be loyal to him no matter what you print.

  13. the truth says:

    I wonder if you polled all of his former student athletes…….how many would say that he was a positive roll model in their the parent of three former students and athletes..he was not!

  14. Whalers 06 says:

    As a former player for Coach Crowley I can look back on it and thank crowley for what he did for us. He dedicates his time for Pierson and he got nothing in return. 22 years as the Varsity Baseball coach and they dont even thank him for all he accomplished. Crowley won the schools only small schools championship as well as the only Long Island championship which I was happily on. Yes some things Crowley does can be debated and he can seem like a dick when your in HIGH SCHOOl, but looking back at it I can say that I am glad to have Crowley as a coach and I want to thank him for all that he has done for me. I wish him the best of luck and I am seriously concerned on where the new board is taking Pierson athletics and I hope that someone steps in and fixes it.

  15. Sports guy says:

    Mr. Crowley was a great coach and teacher, I had him as a teacher in 87 I remember his first day a Pierson Elm. I was in 2ND grade.. For all the left wing pamper parents who thinks he was to hard or had favoritism, you are the reason your kid cant hold a job and still lives in your house in Sag Harbor. Coach C. was treating us just like the REAL world, work hard and you will do well. He did not sugar coat situations, You were not to be late to practice ( work ) simple things like that taught us how to become productive members of society… I left sag harbor After graduation and having played collage level sports as well as semi pro sports. If any of you players think Coach C. was tough LOL you are going to have a major wake up call. Shame on the School board for not even thanking him for all he did for young people and the life long effect he has had….

  16. baseballfan says:

    Oh he has a long effect on his players……not a great one on many of them.

  17. double d says:

    Is it true that two different senior groups petitioned to have him removed?
    I don’t know who the team voted for MVP but from the looks on their faces it certainly was not his son. Who by the way is one of the most respectful, conciderate and mature seniors last year. He deserves better than that pathetic whining his father did about maybe getting the bus driver job( he was bypassed for AD) at the awards. Also am i the only one who thought he sounded a bit……..

  18. ladiesman69 says:

    congrats torterella, and crowley, great job on many successful seasons

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