Raymond “Lippy” De Rocher becomes the seventh baseball player to be inducted into the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. The honor holds special significance for De Rocher, who joins his wife Bette as a hall of fame athlete, although from rival schools. De Rocher is being recognized as a hard-hitting, smooth-fielding first baseman on the Keene State baseball team from 1960-64, while Bette, a former women’s state golf champion, was inducted into the Plymouth State Hall of Fame in 2001. The couple lives in Bedford, N.H.
The son of diehard baseball fan Jim “Red” De Rocher, who once had a cup of coffee with the Boston Red Sox, Raymond De Rocher was nicknamed “Lippy” after major league player and manger Leo “the Lip” Durocher. “Everyone called me ‘Lippy’ from day one,” De Rocher said.
Unlike the controversial and outspoken Durocher, De Rocher was a gentle giant who loved the game and was well-respected by his teammates, serving as the Owls’ team captain as a junior and senior. Although their schedule was short, and heading South to start the season meant traveling to Willimantic, Conn., the Keene Teachers College baseball team enjoyed every moment, especially when “Lippy” came to bat.
One of his most memorable home runs – which Coach Sumner Joyce called the longest dinger he ever witnessed – came in 1962 against Lyndon State in the bottom of the ninth inning, breaking a 0-0 stalemate. Doing his best Joyce impersonation, De Rocher recalled the coach’s sage advice as he strode to the batter’s box: “C’mon, Lippy, don’t try to kill the ball – just meet it.”
“I hit one over the centerfielder’s head. It kept going and landed in the Ashuelot River to win the game,” said De Rocher.
“Lippy reminded me of Al Kaline, who used to hit those towering high fly balls,” said teammate Ron Williamson ’64. “He’d hit them a mile.”
The burly, athletic De Rocher got an early start in the sport. He was a member of a N.H. state champion Little League team and went on to play at Bishop Brady High School in Manchester and on the highly successful Sweeney Post team.
Deciding to pursue a career in teaching and coaching, De Rocher had scholarship offers to play at UNH and Providence, but decided to pay his way through Keene State. Despite his large frame, De Rocher was nimble around the bag and was one of the Owls’ fastest players. He also played summer ball for Goffstown in the Tri-Mountain league, winning the home run contest at the All-Star game, and played for the Manchester Marksmen under legendary Coach Al Grenert. In his final two years at KTC, scouts from the Red Sox and Cardinals discussed signing De Rocher, but teaching and coaching were his goals after graduation.
De Rocher and his wife taught in Goffstown for the next 18 years. He coached the Goffstown High baseball team for eight seasons, leading them to the postseason playoffs every season and, in 1982, to the Class I state championship.
As much as he enjoyed coaching, De Rocher, who majored in English at KTC, also liked the classroom. De Rocher said KSC professor Malcolm Keddy was his mentor. “He had a real understanding of English. I admired him greatly and tried in many ways to pattern myself after him,” De Rocher said.
In retirement, De Rocher and his wife turned their long-time love of antiques into a business, with Lippy working as an auctioneer. These days, instead of wielding a bat, De Rocher occasionally pounds a gavel at auctions.