© Register Citizen July 26,2009
For almost a decade, Torrington Rebel fans have been able to look down the third base line and feel confident. Confident that Darrin Gould was there, anchoring a team that has relied on his leadership, passion and just plain love of the game we call baseball. The Rebels, a Tri-State Baseball League staple since 1991, have had the good fortune of having Gould at the clean up spot where he has been one of the league’s most consistent and feared hitters. Add one of the leagues best ambassadors to the mix and it’s not hard to see why this Rebel has a cause.
If ever there was a guy you could point to or talk to and say, “Now that guy loves what he does on or around a baseball diamond,” Gould is that guy. Not bad for a player who never played an inning of high school baseball growing up in Glendale, Arizona, but was still good enough at age 23 to get drafted by both the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners. Gould would turn down the offers to start the long minor league road to the major leagues and instead has been terrorizing pitchers from coast to coast in amateur leagues. “I had just started a family at the time I got drafted,” Gould said. “I needed to take care of my responsibilities.” Not playing ball during his high school days didn’t slow Gould when he started playing organized baseball between the ages of 17-19 against Division I players out west.
To give you an idea of just how good some of the amateur teams Gould has played on over the years, take a team he played on around the years of 1996-1997 and who could not break onto the team. “I played in the National Adult Baseball League in California,” Gould said. “That team was just stacked with talent. So much so that when a coach wanted to get Alfonso Soriano (former New York Yankee and current Chicago Cub star) a spot on our team, we had to say no.” You know it’s a good team when you’re turning away big league talent. Gould was amazed though, at what he saw from Soriano when he opposed him. “He got to the baseball so fast,” Gould said. “He made a few errors the day I saw him play but man was he fast.” On one hard-hit shot to Gould at short, Soriano demonstrated his dynamic speed.
“He hit a rocket to short that I fielded cleanly,” Gould said. “I threw a bullet to first but he was already beyond the bag when the throw got there.” Considering what we see on ESPN highlights some nights, his defense still leaves something to be desired.
Nevertheless, these were the type of players who could not crack into the lineups of teams Gould played on. He always found a way to play up, not down, a tribute to his natural ability when it came to hitting a baseball, and his competitive spirit. That team also went on a national tour against teams from Las Vegas and San Diego and brought home three championships. When Gould came to Connecticut almost a decade ago, he joined a 30+ league at the suggestion of Scott Arigoni, a Tri-State legend. “Scott was on a team called the Canton Red’s,” Gould said. “I played with them for a while but missed the level of competition I got from playing against kids much younger than me.” When Arigoni told Gould he was going to play on a Tri-State team in Torrington, Gould was on board. How good have the Torrington Rebels been since Gould, Chris Clark and Arigoni (just to name a few) joined the league? Since 2001, they have averaged over 10 wins per season. Only twice did they post losing records (5-10 in 2001 and 6-10 in 2009) while bringing home three championships (2004, 2006, 2007).
2004 was one special season for Gould, who earned Most Valuable Player honors with a .425 batting average. For good measure he sported a 3-0 record on the mound for a team that went 16-2. “It helped that I had Jay Wetherell (Tri-State MVP in 2005) hitting in front of me,” Gould said, “That was some kind of special team from top to bottom.” A power hitter with a plan, Gould is always thinking at the plate, working the pitcher until he gets one or two pitches each at bat that he can do some damage with. “It’s a game of cat and mouse,” Gould said, “If you get a pitcher out there who has a clue, you have to be thinking about what’s coming next.”
From the left side of the plate, Gould reminds you of a Baltimore Orioles power hitter from the ‘60’s, Boog Powell, a reference not lost on Tri-State League Commissioner Ed Gadomski. “His swing is so effortless,” Gadomski said. “Much like how Powell was.” From 2003 to 2008, Torrington was a force to be reckoned with in the league, posting a 75-32 record. The ’09 season was a rebuilding one for the Rebels who missed the playoffs after finishing with a 6-10 mark. While their record was not up to the standards they expected from themselves, the Rebels and Gould worked hard through a rebuilding year and expect to be back even stronger next year. Torrington is managed by former Torrington High School standout Curtis Anthony, who has appreciated the help he has gotten from Gould on and off the field. “He has helped me every step of the way,” Anthony (who won the leagues CY Young award in ‘06) said. “It’s amazing how well he has accepted everything.”
Some older players might resent working for a player half their age but not Gould, who praises how hard Anthony has worked at his new position. Another person who appreciates having the seasoned guidance of Gould in the league is Gadomski. “There is no better ambassador to the league than Darrin,” Gadomski said. “I hold the managers responsible for what happens on the field and his ability to help Curtis lead the team is invaluable.” When will Gould hang up his spikes? In true baseball warrior fashion, Gould states, “When they pull the bat out of my cold, dead hands.” Now, that’s our kind of baseball player.