The first signs of spring are buzzing and I am not talking about the garden. I’m talking about Baseball! New England has strong roots in baseball history but did you know that Ashland has a bit of Major League Baseball fame too?!
One of Ashland’s baseball personalities was Dennis Liborio. I stumbled upon a March 1978, edition of The Ashland Directions which featured an article by Steve Walenski about Liborio’s going away party. I would like to share his story with you.
Liborio went to Ashland High School (class of 1972), worked at the Ashland News Co. as circulation supervisor for 13 years, and was the clubhouse boy & bat boy for the Boston Red Sox (1969-72). He was a very busy young man with a baseball dream! In 1978, at the age of 23, Liborio left Ashland for California to begin his new job as assistant equipment manager for the L.A. Dodgers. We will get to his major league career later…Let’s talk about this going away PARTY!
A special testimonial dinner was organized by Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Fournier, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Hedben, and Mr. & Mrs. Steve Hagan at the Ashland V.F.W. hall. Over 100 friends, family, and townsfolk attended- some of you reading this might have attended (I have to ask, how was the roast beef?). There was even a cake that said “Remember your home base, Dennis”- very clever!
Leonard Fournier (Liborio’s former employer) gave a lovely speech: “I will always remember Dennis as a ‘go-getter’. Dennis came to me when he was just 11 years old asking for a job; and although he was to young, I noticed that he had a tremendous urge to work at the News Store. Dennis was the type of kid who would work relentlessly until he got what he truly desired. And we all know that Dennis’ desire was to work in baseball. In one word, ‘perseverance’ is what has made Dennis successful. I know Dennis will work hard at his new job, and I know someday Dennis will be the team’s head equipment manager. In the years I’ve known Dennis, I always thought of him as part of my family.”
Liborio worked for the Dodgers for 3 years before the Houston Astros called! He retired in 2011 with the Astros’ after 32 seasons and with an amazing list of notable baseball friends. In an article on MLB.com by Brian McTaggart entitled “Biggio Thinking of Ill Friend During Hall of Fame Process” (2015), I was able to find out about Liborio’s life after his retirement. Not going to lie, the title gave me pause.
Craig Biggio started his MLB career in 1988 for the Astros. Biggio arrived at the clubhouse looking for coach Yogi Berra but was stopped by a wicked thick New England accent “Who the [heck] are you?”, it was Liborio. This was the beginning of Biggio and Liborio’s friendship. As Biggio prepared for his Hall of Fame induction, Liborio would not be able to attend due to Alzhemers.
Biggio is quoted in the article: “That’s why this is so sad for me, one of my best friends in the game of baseball and I can’t even enjoy this with him. He would be so happy. It breaks my heart. He should be enjoying this with us along with everybody else and it just breaks my heart.”
Dennis worked hard and achieved his dream. He was very good at what he did, respected by players, and loved by all who knew him. I am glad that found that 1978 article.
Source: Ashland Directions, March 1978, Dennis Liborio on his way to the L.A. Dodgers, by Steve Walenski
MLB.com, 2015. Biggio Thinking of Ill Friend During Hall of Fame Process, by Brian McTaggart.