Rick Sanford, Head Coach
For more than 30 years, Coach Rick Sanford has been coaching at the high school, college and youth level and for the last decade, with the West Hartford Post 96 American Legion program. Along with fellow coach, Steve Meucci, Sanford founded WHABA, the West Hartford Amateur Baseball Association, and initiated start-up programs such as, “Winter Workouts” and the “Summer Slump Buster.” Coach Sanford also started the West Hartford Thunder and Lightning travel program and through the generosity of the Francalagia Family and BF Machine Co, opened WHABA Headquarters, an indoor baseball facility, in 2014.
Coach Sanford, a former high school and college player, might be better known for his play for over 20 years with the MSBL (Men’s Senior Baseball League), winning four national championships, including two with the infamous barnstorming team, the Bristol Baseball Club, and one while playing with his son Nick in the father-son division for Team Maine in Arizona.
Coach Sanford says he is most proud of helping put West Hartford baseball back on the baseball map while restoring the passion and traditions that made it famous and watching numerous players go on to play college baseball during his and Coach Meucci’s tenure. Coach Sanford enjoys all levels of baseball, especially at the youth level, because “that’s where it is played in its purist form.” He is honored to be taking this journey as coach of the USA-Cuba Goodwill Team. “The cultural experience is going to be awesome for the kids. The baseball portion almost becomes secondary. And, I can’t imagine a better group to represent West Hartford during this inaugural trip.”
Coach Sanford has been married to wife Chris for almost 30 years and says, “she lets me do what I love to do and she’s a saint!” They have two children; son Nick, a former WHABA player who went on to play baseball at University of Massachusetts before becoming a WHABA coach and West Hartford police officer and daughter Charlotte, a nursing major at Marymount University, VA. Beyond the world of baseball, Coach Sanford has an actual career as an Asia Pacific Aftermarket Sales Manager for United Technologies, Pratt and Whitney.
Coach Sanford’s favorite team: The Boston Red Sox, especially the ‘04 SOX! They were the definition of “team” and never quit.
Best advice received: Swing hard in case you hit it (from my father) and if you want to make friends, go to summer camp (my first boss).
In 10 years: I’ll be that old, crabby guy driving the John Deere tractor around with a two-year-old cigar in my mouth, kicking kids off the field.
To sum it up, Coach Sanford believes life is like baseball. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains.”
Tim Brennan, Asst. Coach
Tim Brennan - Local Program Lead, Assistant Coach. Tim has been coaching baseball for 11 years and is thrilled to be the local program lead and Assistant Coach for the first USA-Cuba Goodwill Program. As the son of Spanish teachers who ran exchange programs with families in Spain, connecting cultures is in his blood. To assist with goodwill efforts, Tim founded Teen Cultures Connect, a non-profit organization.
He has served as Deputy Mayor of West Hartford, volunteers on the boards of non-profits, including as President of The World Series Club, an offseason hot stove club that honors MLB baseball players. Tim is Assistant General Counsel for The Hartford and a graduate of Washington University School of Law and Providence College.
Eric Fay, Coach
Steve Meucci, Coach
Coach Meucci’s core belief is that “winning is not the most important thing…. preparing to win is.” This principle was instilled in him by his father, Joseph Meucci, as well as the many coaches throughout his athletic career, and is the driving force behind his passion for coaching.
Coach Meucci was a 12-varsity letter athlete at Newington High School, and Captain of all three teams (Baseball, Basketball and Football). He went on to play Division I Baseball at Jacksonville University where he again earned his role as Captain. He continued to play Baseball in the Twilight League, where he then redirected his love for playing baseball to one of coaching and mentoring.
After moving to West Hartford, CT, Coach Meucci became dedicated to supporting and developing the skills of West Hartford Youth. For many years he coached WH Youth Soccer, Youth Basketball and Youth Baseball, in addition to JC Courant Baseball, Alumni Baseball and then WH Legion Baseball for 12 years.
With respected friend, and fellow coach Tom Miceli, they co-wrote a coaching manual for West Hartford American Legion Baseball, which they used to mentor and train other coaches. Steve and Coach Rick Sanford devolved a “winter workout” program for youth ages 9-18, and together co-founded West Hartford Amateur Baseball Association; WHABA. Steve and his twin brother Tom Meucci are co-founders of “Friends of West Hartford/Newington Baseball”, through which fundraising efforts support yearly high school scholarships and money for sports equipment for local high schools.
Coach Meucci is currently a coach for the Rawlings Connecticut Legion Showcase, and is a member of the Connecticut Coaches Association, and the National Youth Coaches Association. He was inducted into The Cooperstown Dreams Park Youth Baseball Hall of Fame as a coach, and was a awarded a Public Service Award for his “dedicated service and contribution as a volunteer youth sports leader in CT”, presented to him by Susan Bysiewicz, CT’s Secretary of the State in 2005. Coach Meucci is a Materials Manager at Pratt and Whitney, UTC.
Steve and his high school sweetheart, Claire, find strength and love in their two sons, Joe and Tim. Joe is an Architectural Design Assoc. at Mikyoung Kim Design in Boston. Joe earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT), was a WIT Baseball player, and a former WHABA player. Tim is a US Navy Officer, US Naval Aviator Candidate, and a Boston University Graduate.
Coach Meucci feels that, “during this good-will baseball tour, we not only represent West Hartford and Connecticut, but the United States as a whole. The players have an opportunity to build a friendship with another culture…. and isn’t that what its all about?”