BASEBALL: Beloved volunteer assistant Ray Guarino leaves Yale baseball for

Courtesy of Ray Guarino

Beloved Yale baseball volunteer assistant coach Ray Guarino is leaving the Bulldogs after 12 years to accept a part-time assistant coach position at the University of Bridgeport, he confirmed with the News.

Guarino, a West Haven native, first got involved with Yale baseball in 1996 when his friend and Yale’s then-shortstop, Rob Farnen ’98, helped him get a job assisting with Yale head coach John Stuper’s summer baseball camp. In 2010, Guarino formally became part of Yale’s coaching staff part time as a volunteer assistant coach. Beside coaching baseball, he has been a seventh-grade teacher for more than 20 years at All Saints Catholic Academy in New Haven.

While Guarino may be leaving Yale, he will still be nearby, working as an assistant coach at Bridgeport under his friend Joe Tonelli and continuing his seventh-grade teaching.

“It’s more about the relationships and the friendships and the bonds that I have formed,” Guarino said about his time with Yale baseball. “Whether I’m an assistant coach at Yale or Bridgeport, or wherever, these are bonds that will never be broken, these are friendships that will last a lifetime for me and I cannot thank Coach Stuper enough for getting me involved.”

Courtesy of Ray Guarino

Stuper and Guarino’s friendship was not necessarily immediate. When Guarino showed up to work that first day at Stuper’s camp back in 1996, he was not only wearing a baseball cap backward but was also sporting an earring, and Stuper was not impressed. Yale’s head coach wears the old-fashioned baseball badge with honor. He said he does not allow his players to have long hair, grow facial hair or wear their hats backwards. As the game trends toward more expressive demonstrations on and off the field, these traditions have been going out of style, but some Major League Baseball teams like the New York Yankees still enforce them.

Despite what Stuper called an “interesting” first impression, the pair have been together in some capacity for 25 years now. In an interview with the News, Stuper said that he could not be happier for Guarino. Yale’s head coach noted that Guarino was an incredibly hard worker and someone who did not mind that his only compensation was Bulldogs Under Armour gear — though he did get compensation via Stuper’s summer baseball camps.

When Stuper heard that Guarino had been offered a position with Bridgeport, he jokingly threatened to fire him from Yale if he did not take the job — Stuper saw it as a great opportunity for the West Haven native. He has been especially impressed by Guarino’s strength since Guarino was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.

Courtesy of Ray Guarino

“He’s like a son to me,” Stuper said of Guarino. “He’s the toughest person I’ve ever met in my life. … A couple of summers ago, when he was going through chemo and then he or his wife would drive him to coach his Legion team an hour after chemo, he would coach third base. He’s 6’3’’, and he was weighing 150 pounds — you know, he looked like a skeleton at third base, and I was afraid for his life that somebody would hit a line drive his way.”

Guarino first received a multiple myeloma diagnosis two years ago. Stuper and Tonelli noted that Guarino’s health has improved considerably, but the former Yale coach is still battling every day — multiple myeloma does not go into remission.

Guarino said that he has been able to battle through his disease because of the support of his wife Jackie and the Yale baseball community.

“He loves our guys, and it’s the right move, and I couldn’t be happier for him,” Stuper added.


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