Hawks former leader recalled
The northern Massachusetts/southern New Hampshire baseball community lost one of its most valuable members on Tuesday with the early morning passing of Harry Ayotte at age 77.
Ayotte is most remembered in Nashua for being the first field manager of the independent minor league Nashua Hawks in 1995 through the first part of the 1996 season. Those two seasons marked the return of professional baseball to the city after a nine-year absence, but it was also Nashua’s first foray into the sometime questionable world of independent minor league baseball. The Hawks had shakey ownership at best and folded midway through the ’96 campaign.
Ayotte, who hailed from Chelmsford, Mass., was extremely well known in the Lowell, Mass., area as he was a longtime assistant coach at Chelmsford High School. He also owned and, from time to time, coached or helped coach the Central Massachusetts Baseball League entry known as the Chelmsford Merchants, a summer team made up of current and former collegiate players, many of them from the Nashua area.
But he also made his mark in Lowell owning and operating the Mill City All-Americans of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, from 2000 to present. His family now runs the summer wooden bat league team, which almost moved to Nashua this past off-season but opted instead to set up shop in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
Ayotte, who became ill late last spring, was honored by the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association as one of their 2010 Assistant Coaches of the Year for his longtime work with the Chelmsford High School club.
Ayotte was known for his gentlemanly manner and sharp baseball mind. His patient approach probably helped the Hawks overcome many upper management miscues and get through their one full season in ’95.
“I learned everything I know about the game from Harry after I thought I knew everything,” longtime Nashua area coach Bill Twomey, who was on Ayotte’s Hawks staff and became one of his best friends.