Power hitter Bryan Caruso, a Tilton native, died suddenly at age 42


Monitor staff

Published: 05-21-2022 5:00 PM

Bryan Caruso was a bear of a man who once smashed home runs to far-away places during his high school and college careers.

When it came to hitting, Eric Duquette, Caruso’s former business partner and coach at the Concord Sports Center, called his dear friend “a beast.”

When it came to mentoring, Jayden Day, whom Caruso coached through his youth baseball days, said this coach, more than any other, made him the high school player he is today, at Concord Christian.

Both remain in mourning after the shocking death of Caruso on May 16. He was 42, married, with a 4-year-old son. His father, Fred Caruso, unsure of the exact cause of death on Friday, said Bryan died after suffering internal bleeding, which he traced to a similar episode six years ago.

“It’s so surreal right now,” Fred said in a phone interview. “I think sometimes that I’ll wake up and all of this will be a bad nightmare.”

A service celebrating Bryan’s life will be held Monday, the funeral on Tuesday, both in Tilton, where Caruso grew up. He had recently bought his first house, in Pembroke.

“What we have going forward is to take care of his wife and son,” Fred said. “We’re going to make sure that (Colton) knows who his father was. The outpouring, I’ve never seen anything like it. There are new tributes from people we didn’t even know. He had a passion for what he did. He loved teaching.”

Coaching was the logical path for Bryan, knowledgeable and affable, once his pro career with two Massachusetts teams, unaffiliated with Major League Baseball, fizzled. That was the end of his playing career and his hope that one day he could play big-league baseball.

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By then, he was established throughout New England, a giant among scholastic players, hitting home runs at Winnisquam Regional on a regular basis, and later breaking most of the power records at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. Caruso, a catcher, is in the school’s Hall of Fame.

“He was at a different level,” said Duquette. “In (American) Legion, he played bigger and dominated the league, and that is when you knew he was a special player.”

His teenaged players through the years thought he was a special coach as well.

“He taught me just about everything,” said Day, who’s 16. “He pushed me to be the best player I could be. A great coach.”

Day was given private lessons by Caruso, starting at age 11. That’s what Caruso did when he joined the Concord Sports Center – a baseball factory that includes instruction and travel teams, called the Concord Cannons – as its general manager in 2006.

He immediately launched his Cannons program. Soon, teams in several age brackets were needed because of the interest Caruso had created.

“He developed the program, then added softball and improved the quality of softball around here as well,” Duquette said. “No one did more for the quality of baseball in this region. The level of play has gone up, and I say it’s because of Bryan Caruso.”

Caruso, Duquette and former Concord High star Matt Tupman, who singled in his lone at-bat in the big leagues, created a three-pronged guidance program that turned the Cannons into one of the top travel programs in New England. The trio won a state title in Concord Legion ball as well.

Elsewhere, Caruso coached at Bishop Brady High School and the New Hampton School. Duquette, who coached the Pittsfield Middle High School baseball team for nine years, was the head coach at New Hampshire Technical Institute when Caruso asked him to join the team at the Concord Sports Center.

The two were close. Duquette saw first-hand the lasting impact Caruso had on his players.

“The Sports Center had kids who were still friends with him as adults,” Duquette said. “To this day, they continued to contact Bryan.”

Caruso’s career at the Concord Center ended in 2021, after 16 years. He was hired by the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Mass., to coordinate and launch even more travel teams than he had here. Caruso, Duquette said, was torn.

“For him, he was a selfless guy who did for others,” Duquette said. “He finally did something for himself and his family. He spent his whole life coaching in the area, and now he is gone. He won’t get to coach his kid.”

Visiting hours will be held on Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Smart Funeral home in Tilton. Caruso will be buried Tuesday at Park Cemetery in Tilton, following a 10 a.m. service at St. Paul’s Church in Franklin. Burial will follow at Park Cemetery in Tilton.

From all indications, get there early.

“I can talk about Bryan all day,” Fred Caruso said. “He was my best friend. I miss him terribly.”