BEVERLY — After 17 seasons as the head coach of the baseball program at Beverly High School, Dave Wilbur has decided to step down.
A longtime Beverly resident, Wilbur took over the Panthers’ program in 2002. He also coached varsity baseball at Georgetown High and Melrose High, and spent seven seasons coaching at Division III Tufts University. He began his coaching career in 1975 when he was hired at Salem High to coach the junior varsity baseball team.
“I’ve been coaching baseball in some capacity since 1975,” Wilbur said. “I’ve coached at three different high schools, I coached at the college level for seven years. Coaching baseball has been a big part of my life. I loved every minute of it.”
Wilbur said he weighed his options shortly after Beverly concluded it’s 2018 season. In the end, Wilbur felt it was the right time to step down.
“At the end of every season I always take some time to look ahead not just for the next season but the next two or three years,” Wilbur said. “When we finished this year I knew I wasn’t going to be able to commit to the demands of the job for the next two to three years. It’s a 12-month-a-year job. I didn’t think coming back for just one season was fair. I’ve decided to step down at this point.”
Wilbur undoubtedly closed his Beverly coaching tenure on a high note. The Panthers finished the 2018 regular season at 16-4 and earned the No. 3 seed in the Division 2 North state tournament. Beverly won its first sectional crown in program history, defeating Masconomet 3-1 in the Division 2 North final.
The Panthers lost 4-3 to North Attleboro in the Division 2 Eastern Mass. final. Wilbur, recently inducted into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, was named the 2018 Northeastern Conference Coach of the Year.
“We’ve had some good teams over the years,” Wilbur said, “but to have a season like we had this past year, all the kids in the program helped me leave with a great year. We’ve had great kids over the years and great seasons but I couldn’t have asked for a better year to leave on. That’s for sure.”
Wilbur said none of his success would’ve been possible without dedicated efforts from his players and coaching assistants during his tenure. The support the Panthers received from the Beverly High administration and community members was also a key part of the program’s success.
“I want to thank all the players for their effort,” Wilbur said. “Through the years, the kids in Beverly have been fantastic. Together we really shared some great memories. It’s been an honor to coach in several communities, but my 17 years in Beverly were truly special. It was a perfect situation for me. The administration was outstanding. We have top-notch facilities. It makes Beverly a great place to coach and I appreciate all the support we received. It’s been a great experience for me and my family.
“I’d like to thank all my assistants,” Wilbur said. “I was very grateful to have talented assistants. Our kids have benefitted so much from their coaching.”
Beverly’s junior varsity and freshman teams also had great seasons in 2018. With the future looking bright for the Panthers, Wilbur felt as though he left the program in good standing.
“Our junior varsity team went 16-4 and our freshman team went 13-6,” Wilbur said. “We have five returning seniors who played. One of the things I’m proud of is the way the players have competed to consistently be successful. I think it’s built for someone to come in and keep it going.”
In addition to coaching baseball, Wilbur has also coached Beverly’s freshman football team for the past 23 years. Wilbur said he will remain in that role this year.