Photo, courtesy John Cardullo
Gary Bucci - the new baseball coach at Cranston East - by John Cardullo
Gary Bucci - the new baseball coach at Cranston East
by John Cardullo
LET’S GO! Gary Bucci takes the helm as the new Cranston East Thunderbolts baseball team.
To say that Gary Bucci always dreamt about being a Head Coach of a Division One high school baseball team would be accurate. Bucci is completing his first year at the helm of the Cranston East Thunderbolts baseball team. “I was and still am very excited about being named the head coach the Thunderbolts baseball team.” Bucci said. “but to be honest it is harder than I expected for a couple of reasons. The first is the logistics of coordinating kids that are eligible. Second is dealing with the players class attendance issues, their grades and the many things that you normally take for granted.” He goes on to say, “the commitment from some of the players was not what I expected, but I hope that we are on our way to change that”.
If anyone can do it, Gary Bucci will be able to; his positive attitude and competitive nature was developed when he began his personal baseball journey at a young age playing in Johnston. After a standout athletic career in both baseball and football as a Panther for Johnston high school, Bucci went on to attend Central Connecticut. After graduating from college, Bucci returned to Rhode Island and in 1997 he began coaching in the Cranston Western Little League organization. It was at CWLL where he’d lead the team to the Regional Championship and to Williamsport, PA in the Little League World Series. Bucci’s “LET’S GOOOOOO!” was CWLL “war cry” as it marched to Williamsport. Bucci remains very involved with CWLL still to this day.
It was in 2007 Bucci began his high school coaching career at Cranston West. There he was able to coach many of his players that went through CWLL. In 2010 he was asked to become a full-time varsity assistant coach at Exeter West Greenwich. In 2018 Bucci was approached by LaSalle Academy to take over the Freshman and JV program for the Rams. At LaSalle, the Rams won the Rhode Island State Baseball Championship with Bucci as an assistant. At the end of the 2018 season, Cranston East’s longtime baseball coach Mike Walsh left the head coaching post to accept an administrative position in the Cranston School Department, leaving the Thunderbolts looking for a new Head Coach. When Bucci was named as the Thunderbolts new Head Coach in late February he got right to work, meeting with the returning players, putting together a coaching staff and setting up the base organization to run a high school baseball team.
At the time of this writing, Cranston East is 6-10 and currently in 8th place in Division 1-A. Bucci’s response to the question, “what would you change, if anything, if you had to do it over again, as it pertains to this season?” Bucci’s answer? “Nothing really, I have switched the emphasis of things we work on at practices due to what I and the coaching staff has seen as major deficiencies in some of the kids in the program”. Asked about some of the intangibles he didn’t expect, Bucci’s answer was “the fundraising issue was something that I knew about; it does take a lot of time and energy, but unfortunately in public schools today it has become a necessary staple in your program. Fortunately, the support from both the school and the parents have been great!
Again, the major issue is dealing with the eligibility regarding grades and the absences, have me doing a lot of jockeying in the lineup on who is playing and who is not.” Another point he made was, “I would love to see the high school season go into June as opposed to playing most of the schedule in terrible weather in April and May. Another was playing the same team in the same week, I would like to see the schedule be more uniform and balanced, you can find yourself in a big hole before you know it. An expansion to the season with more games would be nice”.
Gary Bucci’s commitment to the Thunderbolts is “100%” and his hope to continue to build a hard-working environment at Cranston East is unwavering. Knowing Gary Bucci, his “LETS GOOOO! Attitude will catch on over at the East side of Cranston and the Thunderbolts will be a team to contend with for many years to come.
John Cardullo, Sports Writer