© Rick Wilson – Thomaston Express, April 2007
They are the surest sign that spring is not just within sniffing distance, it is here. The winter meetings have begun. Actually they started several weeks ago and have picked up in intensity recently. Now admittedly these meetings are a bit out of the norm. With all due respect to the major league version, there are no martinis at 2 p.m., no fancy bedroom suites, no multi-million dollar meals, no prime rib (although prime beef is available) with those red potatoes followed by a swim in the afternoon, no pool-side frolicking. Here’s what you get. A john with a plunger, one balding guy, sweat rolling down his face and screwing up his glasses while pumping away on the elliptical machine. One other guy with a full head of hair, working out on the weights while he tries to decide if he is 35 or 45. And anybody else in the vicinity who cares to listen. No Florida, no pool, not even any Gatorade. However, a bit of cellulite is available. No temperatures above 50 these days unless a little luck is involved. These winter convocations are held in Thomaston at the Weight Room, where visions of Arnold and abs of steel are the dream and sore muscles and oxygen tanks are closer to reality (at least for some). It is this reporter and Ed Gadomski. It is baseball talk with a major league passions and without all the major league trimmings.
Gadomski and I run into one another on Saturday and Sunday mornings off an on these days. Gadomski is proof positive that the gods of baseball are back and green fields are lying in wait to expose themselves. Gadomski bleeds baseball like Pat Riley pines for hair gel or Jim Calhoun pleads for a face to get into. It is his permanent adrenaline rush. And he is pumped up about the game these days. It is about playing. The Thomaston resident plants his speaks with Burlington these days in the Tri-State Baseball League. He looks good and he can still throw. He is also a youngster for Thomaston’s Over-40 League team, just an aging pup.
But it is the Tri-State League that has Gadomski hanging and banging these days and all fired up. He runs the league and it has exploded in recent years with Vesuvius-like impressiveness.
Once an eight-team beer league in many respects in the Northwest corner of Connecticut with representation from over the border areas in New York (Pine Plains, Amenia, Millerton) and further back in time from Massachusetts, the league now is mainstream and hardly located to just our pristine little corner. There are 15 teams now, ranging from Thomaston (2 teams) to Naugatuck to Amenia and Wolcott to Lakeville. The size has the league looking at four representatives in the state tournament which will be held at Waterbury ‘s Municipal Stadium and Torrington ‘s Fuessenich Park . There are plans for a Tri-State League Hall of Fame and an Old Timer’s Game. He is connecting with other leagues, like Hartford ‘s Twi-Light League. Tri-State is a league with a long history and right now an unlimited future.
As the involvement in the league has increased, the talent level has risen. Sure, there is still a beer belly or two, but there is also some solid college material and a few minor leaguers playing now.
It’s all got Gadomski giddy. He pumps a little and in between reps he raps. He talks about how the league has grown and how he’s worried about his former teammate and league legend Dave Post and his wife Lucy who is struggling with health problems. The names fly around fast and furious – Mark Magyar, Barney Mestek, Mark Kohut, Tom Downey, Pete Duglenski, Scott Arigoni, Pappy Fredlund, and the list goes on. Over-40, names from the past, names from today, local players, the good, the bad, the ugly. It is all out there and we go through a lot of it. It’s the fastest 45 minutes around and sure as heck makes my agony a little easier to bear. There isn’t a lot passion in my attempt to keep the belly from jiggling. But Gadomski, now there is passion. The hour or so is up and I kind of stagger out in search of a sausage and egg on a hard roll. But Gadomski, you know he’s searching for a warm day and a green field. Baby, spring is here. Gadomski says so.