Neverett making adjustments after tough personal year
The time. The free time. That’s one of the biggest ways how life is so different now for Nashua Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett.
Two special seats at Holman Stadium just off home plate, a couple rows below the concourse, tell him that.
They had belonged to his father and mother, Bill and Sheila Neverett, and will remain unsold as long as the Silver Knights are around. It was just about a year ago that Bill Neverett passed suddenly, and Sheila, who had been dealing with health issues the last few years, passed away this past spring.
Every once in a while – especially late last season – Neverett would catch himself looking up at those seats from the third base coach’s box.
“They really enjoyed coming here,” Neverett said. “My mother especially. She’d count down the days before the season. She loved to watch the people here.”
But last season was both their final times at Holman.
“When my Dad passed last July, it was very sudden, no preparation at all,” Neverett said. “It was quite a shock.”
It was the night of July 26. The Silver Knights had enjoyed a walk-off win over Martha’s Vineyard, but Bill Neverett wasn’t around to see it. He had left in the third inning, telling those around him he wasn’t feeling well. Sheila stayed for a while and Neverett’s younger sister, Nancy, took her home a little later. Ironically that night B.J.’s brother Tim was broadcasting a Red Sox walk-off win in Boston.
EMT’s were called to the Neverett house around mindnight, and B.J.arrived shortly after.
His Mom’s death in the spring was a little easier to deal with. “She was ready,” he said. ” She was unbelievable…But it’s something I’d never been through before, the end of life.”
Nothing could really prepare Neverett for this as he goes through the first season without them both. The Silver Knights have served as a great distraction, first in 2016 when he was making daily treks to a Boston hospital to see his Mom, and then get back in time to prepare for a game. And again late last season, after his father had suddenly passed.
When the Knights won the 2016 championship, Neverett brought the FCBL title trophy for Sheila to see while in still in the hospital.
“I left it with her for two or three days,” he said.
You see, his parents had watched Neverett’s coaching career all through his Nashua High School days to now. B.J.said Bill wouldn’t critique him too much, just tell him when the team didn’t play well or when he thought it did.
But this says a lot: The Silver Knights manager knows exactly when his biggest moment came in the Nashua uniform.
“It was the fact that in 2017 they were both here that night and witnessed the championship (at Holman),” Neverett said. “Just the fact, I’m thinking right then, this could be it, the last one they were going to see. That was my biggest thrill, that they were here to see it. I remember going up to them after the game and saying ‘I’m just glad you guys were here to see that.'”
In fact, Neverett admitted that after the 2017 title season, he thought about giving up the manager’s job.
“I thought about walking out on top,” he said. “That would have been a good way to go.”
But something stopped him. It might have created a tough void in his parents’ lives.
“They enjoyed coming so much,” he said. “They liked being around here. I said, ‘You know, I should just hang around here. I should just stay and see how it goes.’
“I’m glad I did. It was good. She (his mother) was around (and not in the hospital).”
Last year Neverett had a season to finish, about two weeks worth, after his first family loss. It couldn’t have been easy, but it wasn’t as hard as one might think.
“Baseball games gave you time to get away from it,” he said. “I have to commend the players on the team; they were really good about everything. They really were very supportive. But it was difficult.”
When the season was over, Neverett had the chance to catch his breath before starting the school year where he teaches, at Fairgrounds Junior High.
“I kind of did nothing the rest of the month of August,” he said. “I went away.”
But his mother also needed support. Neverett has long praised the efforts of his sister Nancy who handled a lot of that when he and Tim had their busy sports jobs perform. “She was here and more than willing to take care of a lot of things that he and I couldn’t really do,” Neverett said.
Fittingly, the seats will stay in the Neverett family. Bill Neverett’s longtime buddy, Larry Hodge, who is in his 90s but like Bill has been a Holman regular, comes to sit in one of them, and often Nancy will join him. It certainly is strange to see Hodge around Holman without his longtime friend.
“There’s still a lot of sentiment there,” Neverett said.
But again, the free time. “I’d say my last five years my total attention has been on them,” Neverett said. “Outside of baseball and the field.”
The Nashua house the Neveretts lived in for several decades was slated to be sold this past week. It was strange, Neverett said, when the phone was shut off.
“The house has been in the family since the Fifties,” Neverett said. “That phone number was the one I grew up with. And now it’s gone. That number has been in the family for 62 years. And now it’s gone.
Weird. And sad. Yet baseball and life – albeit a somewhat different one – go on for Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett.
Rest assured he will look up at those seats a few more times this summer.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.firstname.lastname@example.org