Clearwater Central Catholic baseball coach Todd Vaughan pulled a framed team photo of the 2002 Marauders from the clubhouse wall. A dozen smiling faces in red and black jerseys brought back a wave of memories.
“Oh, that team was very special,” he said. “It’s one of those teams that’s always in my heart and always will be.”
The roster is posted on the clubhouse wall for fans to see as they take their seats for CCC home games. One of those names can be found on another clubhouse wall just a few miles away.
“For me, it doesn’t get any better,” said Clearwater Threshers manager, Shawn Williams, from the top step of the Spectrum Field home dugout. “When they told me last year that I’d be coming here, I was like, I knew it was going to be special to get a chance to be back home.”
Williams was a local kid. He grew up in Dunedin and played baseball on all of the local fields that a Threshers’ errant foul ball may roll to. His days at CCC helped turn him into a minor league-level player with dreams of the Majors.
That plan didn’t pan out on the field. But, now, his new dream is to make it to the big leagues as a manager.
That journey continues in his hometown.
“It doesn’t matter how you get there,” he said. “As long as you get there.”
Previous minor league managing stops in Williamsport, the Philadelphia Phillies’ Class-A short-season squad, and Lakewood, a Class-A affiliate.
“Pretty sure he’s appreciative of the times that he spent here with real goods times with the guys that he played with and the teams that we had,” Vaughan said. “They all kind of grew up together in high school here and we had some success.”
Those lessons have followed Williams in his travels – all the way back home.
“To get a chance to be here at home managing and having family and friends that are coming out every day, it’s just good to have the support,” he said.
The Clearwater Threshers are the Phillies’ Class-A advanced affiliate.