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Legion baseball Coach Guarino looking to win championships and newfound cancer battle this season

Sports

 For West Haven‘s Ray Guarino, baseball has been in his blood since he first started tossing a baseball with his father.

He’s coached high school baseball for years, he’s an assistant coach at Yale, and he’s been the head coach for the Hamden Under 19 legion team for the last 7 years.

Right now, baseball is helping Guarino deal with the biggest battle of his life.

Back in March, Guarino was hitting fly balls to the Yale baseball team–something he’s done a thousand times–but this time he felt a pain on his side.

He thought maybe he pulled a muscle, but then the pain got worse. In late May, the pain was so bad that he went to the hospital.

“They determined I had spots or lesions on my ribs on my back and down my spinal cord,” Coach Guarino said.

Earlier this week, he finished up 12 rounds of radiation and on Monday he’ll find out more about his condition.

Guarino’s health hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves: coaching baseball.

“I’m here now and I get to spend some time with the Hamden guys, and they’ve been tremendous.” Guarino said. “They came and visited in the hospital bring me food, send me text messages…and it’s the little things like that that help get you through the day.”

Related: Naugatuck Little League field one of six finalists in field makeover contest

His voice is a little softer, and he had a chair in the dugout for the doubleheader against Madison on Saturday, but his players know what a fighter he is and how much they love playing for him.

“He wants to win, but also, he cares about his players and cares about what they do on the field and what they do off the field,” Tyler Osborne said.

“It came out of nowhere for him,” said Hank Bielen. “He was like ‘this could be your last at bat, this could be your last pitch, you never know, cherish this’.”

Hamden Post 88 expects to have a big summer on the field; players and coaches believe this team can win a championship.

And winning can be quite a remedy. 

“This is probably the best medicine that they could give me, I’ll take this prescription any day over some of the stuff I’m taking right now,” Guarino said.

Battling an illness is not only hard physically but also financially. Two former Yale baseball players set up a Go Fund Me page on behalf of Guarino and almost $100,000 has been raised.

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