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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bishop Guertin, Silver Knights mourn death of coach Tom Bowles

NASHUA – Shock and sadness has struck the local baseball community, especially at Bishop Guertin High School and the Nashua Silver Knights.

Tom Bowles, who served as BG’s pitching coach in the spring and with the Silver Knights in the summer, died Thursday at his home of an apparent heart attack. Players and his coaching colleagues were shaken by the news. ...

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NASHUA – Shock and sadness has struck the local baseball community, especially at Bishop Guertin High School and the Nashua Silver Knights.

Tom Bowles, who served as BG’s pitching coach in the spring and with the Silver Knights in the summer, died Thursday at his home of an apparent heart attack. Players and his coaching colleagues were shaken by the news.

“It’s difficult,” Bishop Guertin coach Scott Painter said Friday. “It’s tough because I’d been coaching with him for 15 years (at BG and in youth baseball). He was great. The kids loved him. He was an old-school guy, but he had their respect, everyone on the team. It’s a loss for the whole baseball community.”

Bowles, 68, also was an assistant coach at Nashua High School South under B.J. Neverett from 2006 to 2011. When Neverett stepped down, Painter immediately brought the popular coach over to BG. Meanwhile, Bowles was a bench coach and pitching coach for the Silver Knights since their inception in 2011.

“He’s been with us since day one,” Silver Knights president Tim Bawmann said. “It’s a big loss for us. It’s certainly not going to be the same without him.”

The Cardinals are preparing to start Division I tournament play next week, and the Silver Knights are opening their season next week, with the home opener next Friday night. Bawmann said the team will hold a pregame tribute Friday and the players will wear a patch with the initials “T.B.” on their uniforms all season.

Meanwhile, Painter and Guertin school officials met with all the players in the Guertin program in the school chapel late Friday morning to inform them of the news. Seniors had final exams in the morning but Painter and athletic director Pete Paladino opted to wait until after those were done before informing the entire team.

“There were no tears, but you could definitely see a lot of the kids were shaken up,” Paladino said. “One player stood up and said ‘I think we should practice, because coach would want us to go on.’ ”

The Cardinals, Paladino said, did practice on Friday afternoon. Their first-round tournament game, site and opponent to be determined, is scheduled for Thursday. Painter expects the team to continue with business as usual, but with heavy hearts.

“We’ll gauge the feeling of the kids, see where they’re at mentally, and see where it goes from there,” Painter said. “We’ll see if they’re all on the same page, ready to go.”

Paladino sent an email to the players’ parents, informing them of Bowles’ death and telling them that the school would provide grief counseling if needed, and that guidance counselors will available.

“If you want someone, reach out,” Paladino said he told the baseball program. “Keep an eye out for one another. The coaches have struggled with this, too.”

Bowles, a Iowa University pitcher in the 1960s, coached and taught for several seasons at Goffstown High School, then gave that up so he could watch his son, Steve, play high school ball. He later joined the Panthers as a coach.

He was a native of Natick, Mass., who moved to Nashua after taking his teaching job at Goffstown in 1980.

Neverett, the Silver Knights’ vice president of player personnel and a coach, urged Bowles to join him with the Knights. Bowles was scheduled to meet with Neverett and new Silver Knights manager Ted Currle on Thursday night.

“It was a natural thing to bring him in,” Neverett said. “Great baseball guy, very knowledgeable, great story teller. The kids loved his stories.”

“He always had those stories,” said former Silver Knights pitcher Cody Rocha, the team’s closer for the last two seasons.

“He always had his two cents, no matter what. From a personal perspective, he was great for me.”

Bowles was active. He ran with the pitchers and threw batting practice. He was close with former Silver Knights manager J.P. Pyne, and occasionally helped Pyne, now an assistant at the University of Maine, when he was head coach at Daniel Webster College.

Pyne saw Bowles for the last time about 10 days ago.

“He stopped down in Lowell at the America East Tournament,” Pyne said. “I gave him a big hug, we spoke for a few moments. I feel very lucky I was able to see him. He was a real special guy to me. Somebody I’ll never forget.”