Emerson graduated from Saint Dominic Academy in 2008. On the heels of a post-graduate year at Tilton School in New Hampshire, he walked on at the University of Tampa, where he logged time with the junior varsity team in the NCAA Division II program.

After seeing both ends of the East Coast, Emerson flew 3,000 miles West, to California. There, he pitched for Pasadena City College in 2012 and Biola University, an NAIA school 16 miles outside downtown Los Angeles, in 2013.

With Emerson’s collegiate eligibility expired, he attended a talent showcase in Palm Springs, and the nomadic life of independent league baseball came calling. He spent a summer in Ohio. The team folded. Next summer, upstate New York. That club played all its games on the road, some of them in Old Orchard Beach.

Are you lost yet?

“I feel like I need a map behind me to explain it all to you,” Emerson said. “I’ve got family in Florida and family in California, and as a kid I was blessed to able to go down and visit them. I knew I wanted to play baseball. I wanted to be outside. I like warm weather. It was infectious and grew on me. I was able to make it work, and I definitely don’t regret it.”

Newly retired from the grind, Emerson was settled into moonlighting gigs as a pitching instructor at The Edge Academy in Portland and the Ingersoll Turf Facility in Auburn this winter. Then came a series of phone calls from multiple friends synonymous with baseball in his hometown, gauging his interest in the open varsity coaching position at Lewiston High School.


And with that, Emerson, 26, is a head coach for the first time, back where it all started.

Although he was part of two Class C championships across the river at St. Dom’s, Emerson played for Gayton Post (now Pastime Club) in American Legion baseball at the Blue Devils’ home complex, Deschenes Field. His younger brother, Eddie, starred at Lewiston and now pitches for the University of Maine.

“It was late. It was a little unexpected,” Emerson said. “I found out about a month ago now that they didn’t have a coach. I had no idea. Jason (Fuller, Lewiston athletic director) reached out, and I feel blessed to have a chance.”

Lewiston has switched coaches almost as frequently as Emerson has changed his address in recent years.

Todd Cifelli, who guided the Lewiston and Pastime programs to multiple championships, stepped away after the 2012 season. Dave Jordan took over for two years before moving to rival Edward Little. Andrew Cessario’s tenure ended after one campaign.

The Blue Devils went 5-12 in 2015, with a young team rallying to a playoff berth in the final week of the regular season. Lewiston lost at Cony in the preliminary round.


“I’m still gathering info, game sheets and all that stuff. We met (Thursday) to hand out sign-up sheets and get an idea for what the numbers will be like,” Emerson said. “It sounds like I’ve got a good group of younger guys. I really don’t know. Pitchers and catchers (reporting March 21) will show me what the starting-off point will be and where everybody’s at ability-wise.”

Emerson won’t be alone in the transition: Cifelli returns from a four-year “retirement” (he served as Legion zone commissioner and a regional scout for the Cincinnati Reds) to join his former player’s staff.

“Most of my time is when we are in spring training. I am not making it out of the Grapefruit League,” Cifelli quipped. “I will help him at practice from time to time. He is a great find, considering how late the process got.”

“Having him around just to bounce ideas off is great, because the guy knows the game,” Emerson said. “He’s had some success out here.”

Emerson doesn’t lack for capable mentors.

His high school years were spent under the watchful eyes of Cifelli and Bob Blackman, who has added his third, fourth and fifth state titles to the trophy case at St. Dom’s since Emerson left.


Toeing the rubber in five other states gave Emerson ample opportunity to sample newer models for his future coaching style.

“I think I’m going to take a lot from each of them. That’s kind of the smartest approach I can think of for what we’re about to do,” Emerson said. “Playing for so many years in so many different programs, I feel like I should have a pretty good idea what’s going on. From a managing standpoint it will be a little newer, but I’ve watched so much baseball over the years.”

Another subtle change will help ease Emerson’s entry into the world of coaching.

The Maine Principals’ Association has modified the first week of workouts, formerly limited to pitchers and catchers, permitting all players to attend. Activities will be limited substantially to throwing and running, but it will give Emerson time to match faces with names and assess basic skills.

“You’re allowed to include more kids. I’m sure a lot of these kids don’t even know where their ability level is at, and I think they might be surprised,” Emerson said. “I think it’s cool that (the MPA) changed that rule. In an ideal world, I’d have these guys playing fall ball and winter ball and we would have started a month ago.”

There’s the attitude that made Emerson such a competitor for so long at so many junctions on the map.

It’s a love of the game that blossomed on the same LHS field, in his final season of Legion ball, playing for Cifelli.

“I think we were 19-1. We were rolling teams,” he said. “The biggest thing was every kid on that roster just loved the game. They were all passionate kids. You could go down the list and pick one and he was trying to play college ball. I’m hoping for some of those type of guys here, and I hope it rubs off on everybody in the program.”

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.