Andover Legion coach Joe Iarrobino talks with Dillon Preston during a game last month at North Andover High School.

Longtime Andover Legion coach Joe Iarrobino admits he is a pain in the neck when it comes to forcing water to his players, particularly during a hot day like Saturday when his team had a double-header.

He went up and down the dugout, two or three times, imploring his players to drink the necessary water.

About five innings into the game, he began to realize something. He didn’t heed his own advice.

During Andover’s game against Lawrence, Iarrobino was waving a guy home from second base — “like a windmill,” he said — when he felt a pain under his left armpit.

It was a cramp. Or make that, the most painful cramp he ever felt.

“You know how your hamstring or your calf cramps while you’re in bed sometimes,” Iarrobino said. “Well, this felt 10 times worse. I hollered over to my assistant Peter Byron, who was coaching at first base, and I told him to take over at third base. I quietly walked around the dugout, without anybody noticing, and I laid down.”

The next thing he knew, a few parents came over and they realized he was dehydrated. They tried pumping him with water and Gatorade. It didn’t really help as he got cramps in his neck, calf and even his hands.

“I had a bypass in 2009 and I wasn’t sure if this was heart-related,” Iarrobino said. “It was scary.”

He stayed behind the dugout until the game ended and his daughter, a nurse, arrived to make sure he was OK. An ambulance arrived, checked his vitals and took him to the hospital, where he remained overnight, taking in three large IV bags.

Iarrobino had suffered major dehydration and doctors told him he was lucky it didn’t result in liver damage.

“I learned a big lesson,” said Iarrobino, who is 70. “I need to stay hydrated, too. I was there about 90 minutes before the game, cleaning up the field, threw some batting practice and soft toss. It was 95 degrees out. I wasn’t prepared. Trust me, I will listen to my advice next time.”

Iarrobino was told by doctors to stay away from Monday night’s game, but said he could probably get back on the field on Wednesday.

Remembering Mrs. Stabile

While Jerry, Steve and Bobby Stabile were known for their rugged style on the local sports scene while growing up in Andover — Jerry and Bobby were noted college football players — their mom, Margaret “Margie” Stabile, was no doubt the strong force in that family.

At least that’s what family friend Peter Comeau, the longtime Andover High indoor and outdoor track coach, says.

Margie passed away peacefully at Merrimack Valley Hospice on June 29 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Son Jerry gave a moving eulogy. Comeau, who was good friends with Bobby, was a pallbearer.

“Everyone loved Margie,” Comeau said. “She was a very strong lady. Her personality was great. And she was very loving. In fact, I called her `mom.’”

Comeau recalls the Stabile family matriarch being at every one of her son’s games through their youth sports days in Andover to college (Jerry played safety at Boston College and Bobby played running back and linebacker at New Haven and ULowell).

“They lost their older brother, Tony, (when he was in middle school) to a brain aneurysm, but they really stayed together,” Comeau said.

During the eulogy, Jerry recalled finding an old Mother’s Day card from Tony to his mom. It brought most in attendance at the church to tears.

“They are a great family and have always been close,” Comeau said. “I’m going to miss her.”


Bill Burt is executive sports editor of The Eagle-Tribune and a regular contributing columnist for the Andover Townsman. If you have any sports tidbits you’d like to share, email him at bburt@andovertownsman.com.

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