MANSFIELD \u2014 Set to add to a lifetime pitch count that is probably approaching 2.5 million, Andy Baylock steps onto a platform at Eastern Baseball Stadium, helmet pulled over his brow, mask dangling beneath his chin. Much of baseball\u2019s magic sparkles in settings like this, wedged into the day-to-day routines that the sport demands and that Baylock, the long \u201cretired\u201d UConn coach, has drawn such joy and purpose from for parts of seven decades. A few weeks shy of his 83rd birthday and a volunteer assistant on coach Brian Hamm\u2019s Eastern Connecticut staff, Baylock uses his seemingly bionic right arm to whiz fastballs toward college kids he still relates to through the bond of a sport. AC\/DC\u2019s \u201cThunderstruck\u201d blares from stadium speakers as Baylock adds to the soundtrack of his life, ball meeting aluminum bat time and again. Ping \u2026 ping \u2026 ping. \u201cDid you see me warm up?\u201d Baylock says proudly between chugs of water, sitting in the dugout after throwing about 200 pitches. \u201cNothing. First pitch, right down the middle. It\u2019s a gift.\u201d Baylock never warms up. He\u2019s never had a shoulder or elbow injury, either. Even shoulder or elbow soreness is a foreign concept to Baylock, the Huskies\u2019 coach in 1980-2003 who, in a variety of capacities since the early 1960s, has left cleat prints on diamonds the world over. Consider the prevalence of reconstructive arm surgeries that have come to define the sport. It\u2019s possible that Baylock has thrown a baseball more times than any human over the past 70 years, yet he\u2019s never so much as needed an ice pack. Dr. Michael Joyce, an orthopedic team surgeon at UConn, calls him a freak of nature. Discussing this, Baylock\u2019s mind darts to the Red Sox game the night before. Matt Barnes, a UConn All-American in 2011, struck out the side in the ninth inning with the score tied against the Tigers but was pulled after 15 pitches. Garrett Whitlock gave up three runs in the 10th. \u201cIt\u2019s just, the name of the game is to win,\u201d Baylock says. \u201cBarnes comes in, shuts them down, they go to extra innings. They bring this other guy in and they lose. Isn\u2019t the name of the game to win? Throw another freaking inning, man!\u201d Baylock shakes his head. He groans. \u201cPitch counts,\u201d he says, dismissively. \u201cI go by hour counts.\u201d Many machines do. Hour by hour, day by day, year by year, decade by decade, Baylock has continued on his chosen path, one of baseball and its people, its competition, its dependability. He found the luck or wisdom, or both, at an early age to identify a source of personal and professional happiness, and he\u2019s not doing much different in 2021 than he was in the black-and-white era of his beginnings. Why does he keep coming back to the field? \u201cBecause I learn,\u201d he says. Because he can still teach, too. \u201cI pick things up. And what they don\u2019t have, I try to give to them.\u201d Hamm enters the dugout and asks, \u201cYou good to go?\u201d Baylock begins the type of walk he has made countless times, this one to the batting cages beyond left field where more hitters wait. In a light tower above is a large nest that Eastern players and coaches have watched birds build one stick at a time over the past couple of months. Now those birds sit overlooking practice as players put the finishing touches on their own project. It\u2019s symbolic. The Warriors were NCAA Division III national champions under Bill Holowaty, a dear friend of Baylock\u2019s, in 1982, \u201990, \u201998 and 2002. Hamm, in his second season, is trying to build the program back to those lofty standards, and he\u2019s off to a good start. Eastern is 29-4, Little East Conference champion and ranked No. 15 in the nation by d3baseball.com. The LEC Tournament begins Thursday, and the NCAA Tournament follows. Baylock watches games from a front-row seat. This is a wonderful partnership, with college players tapping into Baylock\u2019s experience and Baylock feeling part of something by absorbing players\u2019 hopeful energy. \u201cYou think about how different it is in this day and age, how social media and technology have just sped up the differences in generations,\u201d Hamm said. \u201cFor him to still be able to communicate to these guys goes to show you the type of quality person he is.\u201d At the cages, sophomore infielder Mark Bagdasarian steps to the plate and says, \u201cHow\u2019s the wing?\u201d Baylock, about 350 pitches in, chugs more water and rises from a metal folding chair. \u201cIt\u2019s the butt that\u2019s tired,\u201d he says. \u201cThe wing never hurts.\u201d After about 20 swings, with Baylock mixing in some curve balls, Bagdasarian says, \u201cHe loves coming here, and we love having him. He\u2019s throwing hundreds of pitches a day for us, not for himself.\u201d Baylock needs this, too, though \u2014 the connection, the activity, something to invest in. Baseball has a way of tying together the days that start with a 6:15 a.m. wakeup, often followed by breakfast at Pine Acres Restaurant in Chaplin. \u201cToday, ooh,\u201d he said. \u201cCheeseburg omelettes.\u201d Baylock watches a Catholic mass on TV from 8-9, reads the newspaper for an hour, then watches another mass at 10. \u201cBecause the older you get, you\u2019ve got to get closer,\u201d Baylock said, smiling and pointing skyward. \u201cI\u2019d like to get in.\u201d As UConn\u2019s director of football alumni and community affairs, he spends a few hours working projects related to that job, sometimes on the Storrs campus \u2014 previously with interruptions for coffee and a muffin with another UConn legend, Dee Rowe, who died in January. A few days a week this time of year, Baylock heads to Eastern practice around 2 p.m. He also threw batting practice for the minor league teams based in Norwich for 18 years. Baylock mows a handful of lawns in his Mansfield neighborhood about twice a week with a 22-inch mower. At dinner time, he microwaves frozen meals: \u201cBecause I don\u2019t know how to turn on an oven. Three minutes, ding, done. Make a little salad, turn on the news, and usually I\u2019ll take a ride over to Ashford Dairy Bar for a soft-serve.\u201d The routine, the repetition. The purpose, simplicity, happiness. \u201cSucks, though, being alone,\u201d Baylock said. \u201cMama Bear was a big part of my life.\u201d Baylock\u2019s wife of 52 years, Barbara, died in 2015. He still has baseball, the sport that offers something new every day even to those who have spent a lifetime at the field. Baylock grew up in New Britain and played baseball and basketball at Central Connecticut. He was then a graduate baseball assistant at Michigan in 1961-62, and the football coach at East Catholic High in Manchester in 1962-64. At UConn, he was a baseball assistant for 16 years before beginning his 24-year run as head coach. He retired with 556 victories. He is a member of eight halls of fame. If there were a storytelling hall of fame, he\u2019d be in nine. \u201cI was chair of the Division I All-American committee for 22 years with Dr. Bobby Brown and all those big-timers,\u201d Baylock said. \u201cDean Smith was on there. We made him sit in the hallway, though, because he wanted to smoke all the time.\u201d Baylock, a UConn football assistant in the 1960s and \u201970s, began working with that program again in 2005. \u201cI love being around the kids,\u201d Baylock said. \u201cIt\u2019s funny, one big dude, he comes up to me and says, \u2018Coach B, how old are you?\u2019 I said, \u2018Age makes no difference. I can still kick your butt.\u2019 They\u2019re puppies, these young kids.\u201d So many of his stories revolve around throwing batting practice, from UConn to Eastern and all the stops in between: the Cape Cod League, time spent developing Canadian players in New Brunswick, a stint working with the Dutch national team. Lou Pavlovich, longtime editor of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, estimated in 2018 that Baylock had thrown about 2.25 million pitches in his life. \u201cI did a home run derby in Omaha at the College World Series,\u201d Baylock said. \u201cThe whole thing was on national TV. Then I had to run in the dugout and put my shirt and tie on to introduce the national player of the year because I was chair of the All-American selection committee.\u201d That was in the 1990s. Twice in the 1980s, Baylock was the pitching coach for the U.S. senior national team. \u201cOnce with Team USA, I threw every day for seven weeks,\u201d Baylock said. \u201cI never wore out my arm. But I wore out a pair of shoes.\u201d As Baylock kept chatting, he seemed to be taking stock of his experiences. \u201cI haven\u2019t been cheated on anything,\u201d he said. Then he walked away, crossing the field and turning back to look at the diamond before exiting through a gate beyond the third-base dugout \u2014 another 400 pitches delivered, that baseball thread still woven tightly into his colorful life like the red stitching into a ball.