Milford legend honored
CONCORD – If you look at his career, Rollie Hardwick has always been an athlete.
He was an outstanding baseball and basketball in the early 1950s at Milford Area Senior High School (popularly known then as MASH). He played baseball at Keene State and eventually earned a contract from the Cincinatti Reds as a third baseman. He also played football, baseball and basketball while serving in the U.S. Army.
And now? He’s a U.S. Senior Games gold medal tennis player.
Sunday, Hardwick, who also was a longtime coach and athletic director at Milford, became a Hall of Famer, inducted into the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual ceremony.
"You kind of escape your athletic days when you get to be as old as I am,"Hardwick said with a chuckle. "But anytime you get recognized for anything, it’s always nice."
Hardwick doesn’t lament the fact that a professional baseball career never really materialized.
"If I was good enough I think they would have held on to me," Hardwick said.
Hardwick had another shot. He had a tryout with the Red Sox at Fenway Park, prior to a Red Sox- Yankee game. "Ted Williams was bunting to me at third base and Mickey Mantle was swinging a bat right next to me," he said. "That’s just something you just don’t forget."
Does he lament anything about that? Yes. "I didn’t have brains enough to go up to Ted Williams and say, ‘Would you sign this baseball for me,’ " Hardwick said.
Hardwick gave up his oaching duties to focus on being Milford’s first AD in 1970, and stayed for 20 years. During that time he also officiated soccer, basketball and softball.
Hardwick is still a fixture around Milford High School practices and games.
"Everything has changed," Hardwick said in his video interview shown at Sunday’s ceremony prior to receiving his plaque. "Some of it has changed for the good, some of it not so good.
"When I was growing up, playing baseball,we were always ragging on the other team. That’s no longer acceptable, that’s probably a good thing.
"But the thing I notice, because of the size of the schools, now you have to be committed to one sport. Kids don’t get a chance to vary their activities. The time commitment for them is in that one sport. It’s too bad they have to commit to that one sport throughout their high school career."