New England Roots

New England Roots: Dan Duquette on Dalton, catching Jeff Reardon, delivering papers to Mark Belanger and first visit to Fenway

[get_snippet] [theme-my-login show_title=0]
(Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Dan Duquette is part of a long line of New England natives who have grown up to serve as Major League Baseball general managers, a list that includes -- but is hardly limited to -- Roland Hemond, Harry Dalton, Dick O'Connell, Lou Gorman, Jim Beattie, Theo Epstein,  Jed Hoyer, J.P. Ricciardi and Mike Hazen.

Duquette was one of the game's youngest executives when he was named GM of the Montreal Expos in 1991 at 32. He later served seven seasons as the Red Sox GM, and after a 10-year absence from the game, became GM of the Baltimore Orioles, a post he continues to hold.

We spoke recently with Duquette about growing up in the western Massachusetts town of Dalton, his time in youth sports and his memories of being a fan of the four Boston teams.

BSJ: What are your earliest memories of participating in sports?

Dan Duquette: We had a good Little League team. My brother (Dennis) and I were on it and we lived on a dead-end street and (former major league reliever) Jeff Reardon and his brothers lived nearby. All the kids who we played ball with in the neighborhood -- tennis ball, whiffle ball — we all played on the same Little League team together. Reardon was a year older than my brother, who was two years older than me. I was a catcher on Reardon's team for his last two years. We had a good rivalry with another team in town. There were bragging rights at stake. If you had the best ballclub, you had some status in the town. Reardon was a really tough competitor and he could throw really hard. I couldn't catch Reardon that well, because he was the oldest kid on the team and I was the youngest. He could throw really hard -- at that distance of 45 feet, with a (future) major league arm, he had a terrific advantage. My goal was to just catch the ball and not hurt my hand. I had a sponge in the glove, a handkerchief — anything to protect my hand. And Reardon used to get really aggravated if I missed the ball. The fewest balls I allowed to the backstop in a game was, like, four balls. He used to give me a hard time.

BSJ: What role did sports play growing up in Dalton?

DD: Sports were important. It gave you a sense of community, but it also gave you status in the community if you could perform. My father and all the dads in the neighborhood volunteered their time to build another baseball field so we could play. We played some street hockey, we played basketball, we played Pop Warner football.