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Kevin Hartigan: Building Teams on and off the Field

Why Worcester? After three years in the city, we are asking members of the community what makes Worcester so special. Through these interviews, we aim to unravel the unique stories and connections they have with the city, and the team that has made its home here.
November 8, 2023

Kevin Hartigan has been an important member of the Worcester Red Sox' Ambassadors Team for the past three years. This is hardly his first career path; before joining the WooSox, Hartigan served for 27 years as a Worcester firefighter, and worked as a scout and coach for a myriad of

Kevin Hartigan has been an important member of the Worcester Red Sox' Ambassadors Team for the past three years. This is hardly his first career path; before joining the WooSox, Hartigan served for 27 years as a Worcester firefighter, and worked as a scout and coach for a myriad of baseball clubs, including the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, and Worcester Bravehearts.

For Hartigan, the WooSox’ move to Worcester came at the perfect time. He had just retired from the Worcester Fire Department and was looking for a way to stay involved in baseball. According to Hartigan, the primary goal of his current job as an Ambassador is to go to work each day and make people happy.

At a young age, Hartigan was introduced to the world of sports, and he has always described himself as a “team guy.” He was on a Little League, basketball, or Pop Warner team throughout most of his foundational years. It was through those experiences that he learned to bring his best to the game—and everything he does.

In 1975, the hard work paid off when his Senior Little League team won multiple district championships. He was the catcher for a young Ron Darling, who pitched two no-hitters with Hartigan as his batterymate. Hartigan found his true calling in baseball when he became the starting catcher for the Millbury High School varsity baseball team for all four years and was named the MVP his senior year. He takes pride in the fact that he never rode the bus home from school, because he always had practice after class. (He added that he always got his homework done too!)

Hartigan’s baseball career continued as he played on the team at Quinsigamond Community College under the coaching tutelage of Barry Glinski.

After high school graduation, Hartigan sought to join another team, and so he joined the Worcester Fire Department.

“It was exactly where I belonged,” he said. “It was helping people every day, being ready, and learning responsibilities. You really can’t make mistakes as a firefighter.”

After his 16-week training, Hartigan knew he was a part of something special and would have been willing to face any situation alongside the colleagues in his truck. This is how Hartigan operated for his first 10 years in the department. He said he and his fellow firefighters made sure to leave every scene better than they found it.

Everything changed for the entire Worcester Fire Department on December 3, 1999, when the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. fire took the lives of six firefighters. Hartigan’s department was focused on a different part of the city at the time, and his crew took calls for other departments while their fellow firefighters fought the warehouse fire.

Hartigan still looks up to the men who sacrificed their lives that day. Despite the dangers of the job, Hartigan emphasized that he still knew his team was always there for him, and he was always there for his team.

While he worked for the fire department, Hartigan simultaneously pursued a career in baseball. He spent time scouting for the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds before serving as assistant coach of the Worcester Tornadoes under WooSox hitting coach Rich Gedman, and later for the Worcester Bravehearts.

At the same time Hartigan retired from the Worcester Fire Department, he too retired from scouting and coaching. But he couldn't leave baseball completely, so he pursued work with the Worcester Red Sox. He said the establishment of the team came at the perfect time in his life, as he was looking for a way to be involved with baseball but could have more fun and flexibility in a new role, as a Polar Park Ambassador.

With the WooSox, he remains a part of a team whose primary goal is to make fans smile. On game days, Hartigan describes himself as always being three steps ahead to help the day go smoothly. Hartigan hopes to be a role model for all of the younger interns or members of the ambassador team.

For Hartigan, a West Boylston resident who grew up in Millbury, working for the WooSox means he can make Worcester a little better every day. He believes everyone can play a role in making a difference, and that one person can’t change the whole world by themselves, but “you can take on your little part of the world and the whole thing grows from there.”

Getting to work at the park is a very positive thing in Hartigan’s life right now. He says he is proud to have this gem of a ballpark right here in his backyard where he worked for 27 years. He saw the park welcome fans for the first time in 2021, helping people as the world slowly transitioned out of the COVID-19 pandemic. To Hartigan, that first year was so important because it gave the people of Worcester a place to relax and unwind with friends and family. Throughout his lifetime, Hartigan has traveled to many other parks, but when asked what sets Worcester fans apart, he responds without hesitation, “their pride.” According to Hartigan, Worcester has “a special blue-collar toughness, and "we can do it" attitude.” It’s this unwavering Worcester pride that continues to fuel Hartigan’s dedication to the team and to the city.

After three seasons, Hartigan has seen all the hard work that went into bringing the Red Sox' Triple-A affiliate to Worcester, and he is happy to have been a part of that team. He sees the good in Worcester and now sees fans traveling from all over the state, the country, and even all over the world to visit Polar Park.

The draw to Worcester is the experience; fans are invited to have fun and forget about things going on outside of baseball. Hartigan mentioned UniBank Fireworks on Friday nights, special event nights, and playing catch on the field as days where he sees the most people enjoying their visit to the park, as they are reminded of their own childhoods.

But to Hartigan, nothing beats Opening Days; after working hard throughout the cold winter, all of a sudden baseball comes back and fans can enjoy another few months in the sunshine celebrating Worcester’s new, beloved team.