My my My my

The year is 1978.  Gas is 65¢/gallon, milk is $1.44/gallon, West Hartford has just endured the Blizzard of ’78, Laverne & Shirley is the #1 TV show, and Night Fever by the Bee Gees is the #1 song.  Bucky Dent is several months away from hitting the most famous home run in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry.  A skinny 22 year old kid is fresh out of college looking to help his local community and his best friend.  His name is Ken Goroshko and through a series of unexpected events he becomes the manager of a Major League team – Chevron.  37 years later Ken enters his final season as a Major League manager of Blue Back Dental and over those years has become a WHYBL living legend with his trademark smile and upbeat personality. 

Ken “Hondo” Goroshko has been part of the West Hartford Youth Baseball League since 1965 when he played for Fire.  We recently sat down with Ken to reminisce and share his favorite memories from his 37 years:


When did you get started in the WHYBL?  What was your first position? How old were you?

1978 as a Manager.  I was 22.  Our team was Chevron, formerly Bridlepath Pharmacy.  I was initially a coach and then my best friend John Kelly had to step down to take a job in New Haven so I took over.  Kell’s famous last words to me were: “don’t worry I’ll find a replacement for you within two weeks.”  37 years later I’m still waiting for Kell to send that replacement!

How and why did you get started volunteering – even though you had no kids?

Kell was my best friend.  He needed an assistant because he was in the middle of a job search just graduating from Springfield College.  Since he was a PE major at Springfield, he had to do an internship in coaching.  He interned as a coach in the WHYBL in 1977 with Skip Kemp on Chevron.  Kemp stepped down as manager in January 1978 and Kell was appointed manager.  He needed an assistant and I thought it would be fun to coach with my best friend.  Kell gets a job with the YMCA in New Haven and I take over.  Both Kell and I played in the WHYBL for Fire (Coaches Hickey and Scully) from 1965-1967.  Both of our dad’s were coaches and we had fond memories of our playing days.  I would sometimes keep scores of games with a piece of chalk at Norfeldt field.  Everyone biked to games.

Take us through the teams you have managed over the years?

Chevron, Conn & Conn, Chatfield, Molyneaux & Nadler Dental, Molyneaux Dental, and now Blue Back Dental.

Describe the experience of coaching your son (Alexander) in the Majors?

Both challenging and thrilling.  Honestly, it was a gift for me being his coach in baseball.  I probably was tougher on him than any other player.  I also hit him the most in batting practice than any other player (unintentionally).  Alexander was affiliated with the team from the time he was 5 as an assistant bat boy, to bat boy, and player.  I also had the fortunate experience of coaching him and his peers with Tim Venora on our 2007 Travel A team that had a great run in Cooperstown (8 wins).

What are some of your favorite memories of coaching?  Any specific games?

My favorite experience was seeing my son get his first hit against Connors at the age of 10.  A double off the fence at Wolcott!  I was in tears (inside) but could not show it.  I was so proud, but did not want to give any impression regarding his accomplishment versus our other players.  Other favorites were coaching my good friend’s sons: Bob Sitarz (Ryan, Colin), Mike Klimas (Greg), Bill Keenan (Jeffrey), and Chuck Bruttomesso (Tanner).  Watching them all develop and become outstanding players in their own right and outstanding young men, that was something very special.  We also broke the gender barrier in 1979 with the first female player – Karen Gilnight (O’Meara) at 2B.  Karen’s twin sons later played for Exchange.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the League over the years?

The WHYBL has grown exponentially for the better.  When I started, we only had a Major League with 15 players on each team, and 1 inning minimum playing time.  Wooden bats, bases with spikes pounded into the ground.  “Hat Day” which involved all players and teams going around town with their baseball caps collecting donations on behalf of the league.  The player development and quality of coaching today is light years ahead of what we had 37 years ago not to mention our current affiliation with Cal Ripken baseball.

Anyone in particular you would like to thank?

The list would be a long one.  I consider myself very lucky and blessed to be part of our League for such an extended time.  Great support, great friendships and coaches.  The future of our League looks very bright.


Over the years, Ken has touched the lives of so many players and coaches.  We caught up with some of them who shared their memories of playing for and coaching with and against Ken:

“When I was managing Talcott, we always knew that our game against Ken’s team was going to be a close one.  It didn’t matter which of us had the better team, the game was going to be a one or two run game that would be won in the last inning.  Ken does a great job of preparing his players and keeping them ready (on their haunches) to play at every point in the game.  It was always a pleasure competing against Ken and his team.  A true class act and gentlemen.”  — Jim Yanosy (Former Talcott Transmissions manager and current Executive Board member)

“When I began managing in the Major Leagues a few years back, I had the opportunity to coach against Ken.  It became obvious to me right away that he was someone I should model my own style after.  Ken is 100% about the kids, always a positive and encouraging influence during games.  It is very clear to me that his goal is to ensure each of his players learns the game of baseball, and more importantly learns to ENJOY playing the game of baseball and enjoy being a part of the team.” — Matt Andrews (Connors Insurance Manager)

“We are grateful that our son Jay has had Ken as a coach and mentor.  He truly loves and encourages our son on and off the field.  His knowledge of the game and positive influence in his life will impact Jay and the WHYBL program forever.”  — Jim and Sarah Falvey (Blue Back Dental parents, 2012-14)

“Coach Ken is such a special coach, taking his own personal time off season to help me with batting practice when I was in a slump and meeting me at the fields to help me the day before I left for the New England Regional tournament in Warwick, RI.  His advice and encouragement to be patient and work hard helped me to improve and hit .500 for the tournament.” — Jay Falvey (Blue Back Dental player 2012-14)

“Roberto Clemente said that any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in the world and you don’t you are wasting your time on this earth.  I can’t think of someone who has made a bigger difference than Ken.  My sons are blessed to have played for Ken; they will never forget it.” — Larry Lazor (Blue Back Dental parent 2012-14)

“Coach Goroshko is an attentive, patient, and instructional coach.  He is always teaching his players new baseball skills but also life lessons…how to be a good sport, persevere, enjoy a good meal, listen to and respect adults, work hard, and be their best.  He celebrates the small gains and growths as well as the home runs and no hitters.  Our family will always remember Coach Ken, bent down, hands on his knees, yelling directions from his position as third base coach.  We are so thankful for his time and commitment to the families of WHYBL.” — Janet Cashman (Blue Back Dental parent with 3 sons who played for Ken)

“I was introduced to Ken Goroshko when our sons played in the Minors together back in 2005.  After my son aged out of youth baseball, I approached Ken about becoming his assistant coach.  This would allow me to learn more about the game of baseball and additionally help my youngest son, Tanner, to learn from an exceptional coach/manager.  In my tenure as an assistant coach, I have seen numerous times when the team was performing either at a high level or a tough loss that Ken always kept it positive.  I was quickly introduced to how Ken got the kids focused on the fundamentals, plus the numerous nicknames from “Texas Joe, The Lazor Show, and Unleash the Veash.”  Ken made his teams about family and understands the legacy of WHYBL and how many generations this League has impacted.  Ken has coached players of players.  They would not only learn about the game of baseball but also the game of life.  I strongly believe that the players and families that have had the opportunity to be associated with Ken, have a greater appreciation for the game of baseball and the time and enthusiasm that Ken has demonstrated for 37 years as a manager.” —Chuck Bruttomesso (Blue Back Dental parent and coach)

“My favorite memories with Ken will be the All-Star and Playoff games that we broadcast together for WHCTV.  Ken would fill any dead air with stories of old WHYBL games and compare current players to Red Sox players from the 70’s like Fred Lynn and Rico Petricelli.  He would always find something positive to say about every player and coach.  His energy and enthusiasm are contagious and he leaves a great legacy and big shoes to fill.” – Rob Gallo (WHYBL Manager and President)