|Year:||Class of 2019|
The Ace. The Stopper. Mr. Dependable. So said student newspaper Newspeak reporter Fred Beaucoup, describing standout right-handed pitcher Don Maki.
Don's junior season was highlighted by throwing a complete game in one of the most historic games in New England college baseball history. He gave what head coach Charlie McNulty termed his “biggest thrill” when he went the distance in a 6-5 victory over Brandeis on May 7, 1979.
Staked to a 6-5 advantage in the bottom of the ninth, Don walked the bases loaded with two outs, but retired Ray DiCarlo on a flyout to defeat the 23-0 Judges and snap the longest single-season winning streak in New England college baseball history. He defeated a Brandeis offense that had a pair of future professional players in William Carpenter of the Boston Red Sox organization and Vincent Russomagno of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The victory also handed McNulty his 200th coaching victory.
Don closed out his career in style in 1980, throwing complete games in four of his five starts, including three shutouts in 1980.
Among senior year highlights was his come-frombehind victory over Amherst that was ranked seventh nationally and first in New England, and a gem against Division II Hartford. That was one of the best-pitched games we’ve had in the past 10 years,” said McNulty. “He was never really in trouble against a good division II team. He also twirled a clean sheet in a 3-0 victory over Coast Guard.”
Don's final start was a 3-0 one-hitter against MIT. He finished the season with a 4-1 record and a 2.19 ERA—he notched 37 strikeouts and allowed just 24 hits in 37 innings of work.
“Don is the only pitcher in the over 100 years of WPI Baseball who defeated a Division I, Division II, and two nationally ranked Division III teams,” says teammate Tom Villani. “I have been following WPI baseball for 40 years as a player and as a fan, and there’s no doubt he’s one of the top three pitchers to wear the Crimson and Gray.”
Upon graduation from WPI with a degree in chemical engineering, Don played baseball with the New Brunswick (Canada) Senior League team for two seasons. He continued playing baseball until age 53—for a while playing alongside his two sons—and was inducted into the Tri-State Baseball League Hall of Fame. He coached baseball for 10 years and recently began coaching high school track & field—in particular, the throwing events. He recently returned from the US National Masters Track & Field meet with a silver medal in the javelin throw, his fourth medal at the national level.
Don is a native of Worcester and currently resides in Woodbury, Conn., with his wife, Janice. They have three children—Pete, Sara, and Alex. He retired from a career among a number of companies in the chemical industry two years ago and now enjoys traveling, in particular to visit their three grandchildren in North Carolina.