MLB Pitcher Packy Naughton’s Legacy at BLS


Packy Naughton is currently playing for the the Salt Lake Bees. (Source: Doug Gray)

Although Boston Latin School is known primarily for its academic excellence, many students and alumni boast impressive athletic achievements. Packy Naughton (‘14) is one notable example.

Naughton started playing baseball when he was just four years old, following in the footsteps of his older brother, Jake Naughton (‘12). The brothers grew up playing Parkway Little League Baseball in West Roxbury as a pitcher-catcher duo and continued to play together at BLS.

Naughton tried out for the Junior Varsity baseball team during his seventh-grade year, but was cut by Coach Rene Gauthier. “We still laugh about it today,” Gauthier says. After making JV in eighth grade, he was pulled up to the varsity team partway through the season and remained on varsity for the following four years.

It was not until the end of eighth grade and the beginning of ninth that Naughton figured out he wanted to focus on a future in baseball. Gauthier explains that a game during Naughton’s freshman year when he struck out 17 players “really put him on the map, so to speak, not that he wasn’t already on people’s radars […] I watched him and I was like, ‘Oh my god this kid’s gonna be a star.’ That was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of as a coach.” 

Despite Naughton’s incredible pitching ability, his role on the team went beyond his talent alone. Naughton sustained an elbow injury that required a serious surgery known as the Tommy John surgery during his junior year. The surgery is common among baseball pitchers, but this ended his junior year season and he was not able to pitch the next year.

Gauthier recalls Naughton’s address to the team following his injury: “He basically said, ‘We’re a team. It’s not all about me. You guys are gonna go out there and do a great job. You know I’m not the only member on this team. Mr. G always preaches team and I’m just one small part,’ granted he was a huge part.”

In addition, Naughton volunteered in Gauthier’s learning center at BLS, working with students with disabilities. “Packy was just so kind and patient and open to everyone’s differences […] He was a really good friend,” says Gauthier.

Naughton found his time at BLS challenging as a serious athlete, especially at a school where there is a heavy emphasis on putting academics first. Naughton explains, “It’s not like going to a Catholic Memorial or a Roxbury Latin or something where they pump money into the sporting facilities or anything like that, but I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.” He is extremely grateful for how much BLS prepared him for college and says his time on the baseball team got him to where he is today.

Naughton showed his appreciation by buying the current varsity team new practice jerseys this year, saying that he wanted to support his high school team because “they supported me. I’m so proud that I went to Boston Latin School.”

Despite his injury setback during his junior year, Naughton still played Division I baseball for Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Before completing his college career, Naughton was drafted to the Cincinnati Reds in 2017 during the ninth round as the 257th overall pick, which, to Naughton, “was a dream come true.” By his second full season, he was playing for the Reds’ Double-A affiliate Chattanooga Lookouts. In August 2020, Naughton was traded to the Los Angeles Angels. He was assigned to their Double-A affiliate in early May 2021, made one start, and was then called up to the Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees, this past month.

Naughton’s advice to high school athletes who wish to continue playing after they graduate is to “keep working, […] that is all I can say. You’re never gonna get better by sitting and saying ‘Oh I could’ve done this, I could’ve done that.’ […] Why not just do it now?” He says that setting goals, even if they’re small, and working towards each goal is important to him.

Despite Naughton’s success, he has overcome many obstacles, and he still has many years left in his baseball career. Gauthier says, “Packy went out and earned it. Nothing was ever given to him. He had to go out and get everything that he’s been able to achieve […] I couldn’t be prouder of him.”