LYNN– Tom Dill knows how important it is to give back.
When Jeff Earp took over as manager of Lynn’s Ray Gallant Tournament team in 2008, he needed to lean on someone to help sponsor the team. Earp reached out to Dill, who owns the Lazy Dog Sports Bar and Restaurant on Broadway, hoping for support. Dill didn’t hesitate to say, “yes.”
“I’ve been involved with youth sports for many years myself,” Dill, a 1974 Classical graduate, said. “My son Bradley played on Jeff’s Gallant teams and Babe Ruth teams. Jeff looked for sponsors and it was a natural fit. I try to do what I can for the community.”
Since then, Dill has sponsored Lynn’s Gallant team each summer by helping the group purchase its uniforms.
“The city of Lynn is a very generous city,” Earp said. “With Babe Ruth and Gallant, I’ve grown accustomed to asking people for help and people always step up. Tom’s one of those guys that always helps, no matter what you need. I asked him for help and he immediately said, ‘yes.’ Tom’s a guy that does it for the right reasons. He’s a guy that wants to help.”
Dill learned the value of paying it forward at an early age. He knew he’d give back in any way he could when his turn came.
“I’ve been a Lynn guy my entire life and I grew up playing youth sports,” Dill said. “There were always people that made it happen and made it work. Being a community guy, I step up where I can and help out. This was an easy one. The kids are a proud group. This is very enjoyable to do. It’s great to see the kids out on the field.”
A youth sports fan, Dill enjoys making the quick trip to O’Grady Field in Salem each August to cheer the Lynners on.
“The great thing about the Gallant team is it takes kids from all over Lynn, so kids that’ll play together in high school get to meet one another,” Dill said. “Coach Earp is a real baseball guy so he’s going to teach kids things they haven’t been taught before.
“I typically catch most of the games. O’Grady Field is a great place to watch a game. It’s right by the water. The guys in Salem do a great job running the tournament.”
Over the years, Dill has seen some of Lynn’s best athletes foreshadow great things to come in the Gallant Tournament. He watched Katie Burt, who played alongside Bradley on the 2007 Gallant team, and Ben Bowden, showcase their talents, to name a few. Burt went on to play professional hockey for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League. Bowden plays Triple-A baseball for the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Colorado Rockies’ farm system.
“Katie was a great player,” Dill said. “I watched Bowden play on the Babe Ruth field. It was always exciting seeing him. Katie was a tremendous player. Ben’s achieving wonderful things in his baseball career. Those kids worked very hard. It didn’t happen by accident. They have natural ability but they worked very hard. It’s nice to see.”
While Lynn carries a track record of doing well in the Gallant (four tournament championships since 2009), Dill feels it’s the lessons players learn through representing the city that are most important.
“Jeff puts those values out to the kids right from the get-go,” Dill said. “He tells them how to represent the city of Lynn. It’s a proud community and a baseball community. He lets them know they’re the face of Lynn and they should represent Lynn well. That resonates with them. The kids are thrilled.”
And of course, having fun is a priority too.
“Lynn usually does very well. Lynn always represents the community,” Dill said. “They understand, ‘let’s make Lynn proud and let’s be proud Lynners. Let’s play hard and enjoy ourselves too.'”