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Bellingham coach of 25 years steps away

T.J. Chiappone was inducted into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 in January. (Courtesy: MBCA)

BELLINGHAM, Mass. (BVM) — T.J. Chiappone took over the baseball head coaching job at Bellingham High School 25 years ago. In his early 20s at the time, the new manager would invoke on a journey that would see his teams become a competitor at the MIAA State Tournament year in and year out.

Starting in 1995, Chiappone had to learn the job on the fly, encountering some growing pains early on. After three years as head coach, Chiappone led the Blackhawks to their first postseason under his tenure. Since capturing that first trip to the postseason, Bellingham has gone on to make the state tournament 22 consecutive times.

Before the 2020 season, Chiappone resigned as the Blackhawks’ baseball coach to watch his son play college baseball. His son, Corey, who also played under his dad during his time at Bellingham, is a freshman pitcher for Assumption College. Corey has been one of the many college players to experience a shutdown of their season due to COVID-19. Chiappone also has a daughter, Rylee, who runs track at Bellingham.

With the decision to step down as the Bellingham head coach, Chiappone’s idea was to travel around and follow Corey’s games. Unfortunately, after a flight to Orlando to start their trip, the family would be unable to see their son pitch during these games. The season was called to an end during their time in Florida and Chiappone’s plan to follow around the Assumption baseball team would not be able to come to fruition this year.

During his time with the program, Chiappone led Bellingham to a 344-193 record. He has been named Tri-Valley Coach of the Year multiple times along with being the winner of four Tri-Valley League Championships. To top off his coaching resume, Chiappone led the Blackhawks to a MIAA State Championship in 2014. Chiappone has also coached Blackhawks varsity boys basketball.

In January, Chiappone was honored for his success at the high school baseball level with an induction into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was honored along with three other coaches.

Bellingham will replace Chiappone with 22-year assistant coach Doug Houston. Not much should change for the Blackhawks moving forward as the two are long-time friends, with Houston even being Chiappone’s best man at his wedding.

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