On Troy Pappas Day, Hawks honor a lasting legacy

By Dan Doyon / sports@seacoastonline.com  May 11, 2019 

SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — It’s been nearly seven years since Troy Pappas passed away, but Marshwood High School baseball coach Eric Fernandes has made sure every kid he’s coached since then understands the legacy he left behind.Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 9.30.59 PM Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 9.30.32 PM Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 9.30.07 PM Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 9.29.50 PM Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 9.29.08 PM

So that Pappas’ character and spirit will always live on through everyone who puts on the Marshwood uniform.

Pappas, a 2012 Marshwood graduate, was a beloved scholar three-sport athlete, son, brother and friend, who tragically died later that fall during his freshman year at Bates College.

Every year since, the baseball team has hosted Troy Pappas Day in his honor. Saturday marked the seventh edition — matching the No. 7 he proudly wore on the baseball field.

“It’s tough because these young men are wonderful, and the community is wonderful, but some unfortunately now didn’t know Troy,” Fernandes said. “I’m trying to get them to understand what he meant to the people he was around and what he was willing to do. Time and time again I have to fight comparing kids I coach now, to people like Troy and his peers.”

Both of Pappas’ parents, John and Mary, along with his sister, Rayna, were present. So were some of Troy’s old classmates and friends, teachers and a community that came to recognize a special individual who gave his all in every part of his life.

“The fact that we are able to still have John, Mary and Rena come back, that they’re willing to let us do this — they feel this is important,” Fernandes said. “My wife told me that every spring we have to bring Troy back, a number a years ago, and that’s what we’ve tried to do.

“I think he came back a couple nights ago against Kennebunk and helped us,” the coach added of a game Marshwood trailed by five runs before rallying for a 12-6 win on Thursday.

The Hawks (4-5) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Saturday against Falmouth on RBI hits from Connor Caverly and Gabe Place, but five Marshwood walks aided a six-run top of the fourth inning for the Yachtsmen. Falmouth starting pitcher Garrett Tracy limited the Hawks to six hits in 5 1/3 innings to secure the 7-3 Class A South victory for Falmouth (3-3).

“They got a special day for them remembering a former player, and all the respect in the world to them,” Falmouth coach Kevin Winship said. “We knew it was going to be an emotional day for them; then they get up 2-0 and it put a lot of pressure on us. We got the momentum shift and it worked out for us.”

Pappas’ everlasting legacy of giving was on display prior to the game. As an organ donor, both of his lungs, both of his kidneys and his left hand have been successfully saved to improve others’ lives. John Bidorini, who received Troy’s kidney, threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

“That’s the way we look at at it — it’s a glimmer of light in the awfulness of what happened,” Mary Pappas said. “There were some good things that came out of his death.”

John Caverly, who was Troy’s middle school principal, gave a speech following the game and presented Troy’s parents with a special plaque: a framed seventh grade project for which Pappas traced his left hand and was asked to describe himself. He wrote words like cool, smart and athletic.

“It’s really nice to get back in touch with the community, seeing people we haven’t seen in a while, some old friends and it’s great to see Troy’s memory is still alive and it makes us feel good,” John Pappas said. “We owe a lot to coach Cavalry and coach Fernandes for doing all the behind the scenes stuff to make this happen, along with John’s wife (Renee) and (athletic director) Rich Buzzell.”

There was also a concession stand on Saturday featuring hamburgers, sausages and hot dogs, along with commemorative purple Troy Pappas shirts on sale with the No. 7 on the back. The proceeds went to a scholarship named in his honor.

Mary and John Pappas named three scholarship recipients following the game, each based on words that described Troy. For the word “resilience,” Tucker Davis was honored.

“Today was about being bigger than baseball,” Davis said. “The fact that we can live on Troy’s legacy for seven years now is pretty special.”

Adam Doyon represented “effort.”

“None of us knew him that well since we were so much younger, but we try to carry the qualities that he had every single day,” Doyon said. “He was truly a great person and a great teammate.”

Troy’s “leadership” qualities were represented by Trevor Chase.

“Troy has always been a big part of this community, he was always a great kid and a great role model for everybody,” Chase said. “When we lost him it was such a tragic event, but we like to honor him every year because of what he was an example for.”

Troy Pappas continued to shine on a sunny Saturday.

“It means everything to us,” Mary Pappas said. “The community has never wavered. There is just as many people here today as the first one. It’s just so touching that everyone wants to remember with us. We couldn’t me any more grateful.”

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