Expanded Tri-State League opens

By Rick Wilson
The Tri-State Baseball League just keeps on growing. The largest Stan Musial circuit in the state kicks off its 76th season today with the addition of the Bristol Greeners expanding the roster of teams to 17.
Each team will play a 16-game schedule with a 12-game exhibition schedule also on tap against teams from the Hudson Valley Adult Wood Bat League in Newburgh, N.Y.
Three teams from the league will participate in the Stan Musial State Tournament the first weekend in August. There will also be an Old-Timers day game scheduled for Aug. 21, which will include this year’s Hall-of-Fame class soon to be announced.
The addition of the Bristol franchise brings Muzzy Field, one of the top area facilities, into play. With Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium, Torrington’s Fuessenich Park, and Amenia’s top-notch field also part of the venue, there are few league’s around that can boast the Tri-State League’s outstanding array of parks.
Due to the addition of Bristol, who will be managed by Shawn Mirmina, the league’s Board of Directors has voted to expand the playoff field to a 12-team double-elimination tournament that will begin the last week of July with a champion to be crowned.
Among the teams with high hopes and some “unfinished business” according to coach Sam Sirica is the Brass City Brew. The Brew Crew posted the best regular season in Tri-State history a year ago with an 18-1 mark and finished with a 26-6 overall record.
Brass City, however, lost in the Stan Musial state championship game to All-Star Batting of New Milford and the lost to the Winsted Whalers in the Game 3 of the Tri-State championship series.
Brass City is led by 2008 Silver Slugger Award winner, Justin McCulloch, and 2008 Cy Young Award winner, Marc DiDominzio.
Perennial power Bethlehem is also looking to regain championship form. The Plowboys under first-year coach Tony Geraci were 19-7 a year ago before losing to Winsted in the league semifinals.
Other teams hoping to better their performances from a year ago are: Wolcott Scrappers (14-11), Naugatuck Dogs (14-11), Tribury Pavers (13-11, Litchfield Cowboys (13-11, Amenia Monarchs (10-10) and the Burlington Hunters (9-13).
Also looking to make some noise will be the Tri-Town Trojans (8-11), Thomaston Spoilers (7-12), Terryville Black Sox (7-12), Waterbury Wild (5-14), Mazda Dodge Red Devils (2-17) and Farmingbury Longshots (1-18).
The league has also announced some noteworthy personnel changes.
D.J. Reese, coach of the champion Winsted Whalers, has stepped down to spend more time with his family. Torrington coach Chris Clark stepped down after his team won the title in 2007.
Winsted will be led this season by 2008 MVP Ricky Langer while Curtis Anthony now runs the Torrington team (15-10). Both Clark and Reese will remain on the league’s Board of Directors.
The Tri-State League can be followed all season on its website, tristatebaseballCT.com  with the schedule, standings, news updates and history archives.