Tri-State League adds eight to Hall of Fame, old-timers game entertains
Thursday, September 3, 2009
By KEVIN D. ROBERTS
TORRINGTON — There were plenty of laughs, fun and celebrating to be seen at Fuessenich Park Thursday evening.
The Tri-State Baseball League held its Hall of Fame inductions and Old Timers Game. Before the inductions, former players, many of whom had not swung a bat in years, took their hacks to get ready for the game. After batting practice, a new class of nine players, coaches, and umpires were inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame.
Each inductee received a plaque from league commissioner Ed Gadomski to commemorate the event. Jim Davidson III accepted two, one for himself and the other on behalf of his late father, also named Jim. Both Davidsons were inducted Thursday night.
A familiar face in Torrington from 1997 to 2008 was also on hand. Former Torrington Twister manager Gregg Hunt was also enshrined. Called “one of the greatest teachers of the game” during his introduction, Hunt led the Bethlehem Plowboys from their inception in 1981 until 1999 and had plenty of success.
A nucleus of Hunt’s former players from his high school coaching career turned Bethlehem into one of the premier teams in the league. Several of them showed their support by coming to Fuessenich Park to congratulate him.
“It means a lot,” Hunt said of being inducted.
Looking at his fellow new Hall of Famers, Hunt remembered the skills that each brought, from Howie Mann’s slap-hitting style to Barney Mestek’s devastating curveball.
“Class guy,” fellow inductee John Gardner said of Mann. “Always a class guy.”
Hunt recalled a pitching performance by Tom Haggerty, who represented Winsted in the Old Timer’s game. Pitching for Gilbert against Hunt’s Thomaston team in 1984, Haggerty threw 236 pitches in a game that went deep into extra innings. Hunt also pointed out fellow Hall of Famer Bob McCarthy (Class of 2008), a deadly hitter when he played.
“Noboby hit the ball further than McCarthy,” Hunt said.
Hunt said it was great to be around the old players and reminisce with stories from past games.
Paul Giroux and Richard Thomson Sr. were inducted along with Hunt, Mann, Mestek, Gardner, Jim Davidson and Jim Davidson III.
The fraternity that is the Tri-State Baseball League brought in players from Amenia, Millbrook and Pine Plains in New York, along with several former teams in Connecticut.
Gadomski said that the league will have at least 18 teams for the 2010 season, and the league is also interested in bringing back teams from New York and Massachusetts, who helped get the league up and running back in 1934.
“We would love to get more New York teams and Massachusetts teams involved in the league,” Gadomski said.
The former teams also included the Lakeville Firemen and the Terryville Titans. Dan Hamel, who came back to participate in the Old Timer’s game, played for the Titans.
His brother Tim still plays for the Thomaston Spoilers.
“Rivals, but best friends,” Gadomski said of the Hamels.
Baseball is also in the family for the Pomeisls from Amenia. Father Ken played in the Old Timer’s Day game, but Gadomski recalled a game where Ken and his three sons were all on the field in the same game.
After batting practice and the Hall of Fame ceremonies, there was a game to be played, and both sides showcased players that can still hit. On deck before his at bat in the first inning, McCarthy said he had not swung a bat in five years. He proceeded to lace a pitch deep in the right center field gap for a double.
Newly-minted Hall of Famer Mestek showed that he still has a good curve, striking out a batter looking in the first inning. In the outfield, Terry Fredlund made a running shoestring catch on a short fly to center.
Through all of the game play, there were plenty of smiles and encouragement from fans in the grandstand. Just another great night for the Tri-State Baseball League.