First, let me start this note by saying that your affiliation with the Tri-State Baseball League has brought an aura of class and dignity that I personally felt was lacking back in my playing days of the 70’s.
The theme of this correspondence is to nominate two very deserving candidates for the Tri-State league hall-of-fame, Mark Murphy and Rich Blazek of the Litchfield Cowboys. Both played in the late 70’s to early 80’s. I am unfortunately lacking statistics on both. However, I can only vouch for their athletic abilities and extraordinary character. Richie was the premier pitcher in the league when the Cowboys won the title in 1979. He had a variety of pitches and always reminded me of Warren Spahn with his high kicking left handed delivery.
Regarding Mark Murphy, having spent my entire life in the Litchfield area, it is my sincere opinion that Mark Murphy was one of the premier athletes to ever come out of the Litchfield area. He was a three sport star at Litchfield High School, played varsity soccer at Springfield College, played in the prestigious Pearl Street basketball league in Waterbury and excelled as a catcher-all purpose position player that could really hit for the Cowboys. His strongest virtue is probably his unassuming modest character, always deflecting praise to others.
My personal sting with the Cowboys was from 1973 to 1978. During that period, I was the starting first baseman in the league all-star game in 1973 & 1974. In those days, Frank MacArthur had an arrangement to play an all-star game with the Twi-Light league in Poughkeepsie, NY – down there. We never lost! I also managed the Cowboys in the playoffs in 1976 & 1977. In 1978, I stepped aside to concentrate on a professional basketball career. I played for Western New England College that won the NAIA national championship in 1970 & 1971. I played guard during my four years (69-72) at the school. I went on to sign and play with a professional team in London, England (Bracknell Bullets) following a tryout camp with the Boston Celtics and later returned to coach a couple years at Lyndon State College in Vermont. As recently as 1995, Rhynhart was named the MVP of the Forty and Over Masters Challenge annual tournament in New Milford, CT.
Despite a horrific accident in the fall of 2005, when a truck rolled on top of me and left him in a coma for three weeks, ‘Rhyno’ appears today much like he did in the early 70’s. Six foot, three inches tall, and 230 pounds, ‘Rhyno’ is somewhat able to continue his work as a builder despite the loss of most of his lung and severe arthritis in the right side of his body. Toughness runs in the Rhynhart family, too. My dad, Donald Sr, a lifelong dairy farmer and cattle dealer was gored by a bull when he was 78 years old, and went on live another 13 years. My mother played on the women’s basketball team at UConn in the 1930’s.
You already have one of my dearest friends in your Hall of Fame in John McKenna. I feel Rich Blazek and Mark Murphy should join him.
Don [Rhyno] Rhynhart
From: Don 'Rhyno' Rhynhart (Litchfield 1970's)