Copyright Peter Wallace Register Citizen July 3, 2021
In a world still rumbling from the COVID-19 pandemic, a baseball game last Thursday evening at Litchfield’s Community Field between two teams at and near the top of the CT Tri-State Baseball League left the reassuring impression that all was back to normal.
But like the scene up the street of patrons back in Litchfield’s restaurants, normalcy in this age of COVID vaccination is relative for both a sports league billing itself as Northwest Connecticut’s Premier Amateur Wooden Bat League and the prize-winning restaurants and their surrounding businesses. Summer sports, it seems, have the same kind of lingering problems and new opportunities as businesses across town, across the state and across the nation. “COVID-19 took the entire 2020 season from the Tri-State Baseball League and has wreaked havoc on membership for the 2021 season,” says league commissioner Ed Gadomski.
We’re seated in the shelter of a nearby pavilion while the Amenia (N.Y.) Monarchs and Tri-Town Trojans battle it out in a drizzling rain with the same enthusiasm fans have come to expect from a league harboring outstanding players from high school through current and former college players and even a smattering of former pros. Amenia, 8-1 before Thursday’s game, is one of the original teams in the league, tracing its roots, along with the league, to 1934. Tri-Town, 11-0, is one of the newer teams, starting in 2005. That’s the normal part.
“Tri-State had 18 teams in the 2019 season. Only 13 teams returned for the 2021 season,” Gadomski says, as part of the lasting effects of a devastation that hit everyone last year. Tri-Town is back from a league championship as recently as 2018, but, among the missing are such other league stalwarts as the 2017 champion Naugatuck Dogs and the 2015 champion Litchfield Cowboys. Gadomski himself is responsible for much of the league’s success before COVID struck.
Elected chairman of the league’s board in 2003, the same year he won its MVP award as a bulldog player for the Thomaston Spoilers, Gadomski has applied the same tenacity to his role as chairman, then commissioner since 2006, hammering through such by-law provisions as team fines for unexcused forfeits and suspension for player misconduct, while earning the league’s full approval. In doing so, he and his board have turned a six-team beer league into a near-professional high of 19 teams in 2013 and the 18 from two years ago. “Everybody likes a big league that’s well organized,” he says, citing the 3-6 applications he still gets for new team membership every year. “If you win the Tri-State League, it means something.”
But now, in the drizzling rain, he mulls COVID’s effects and future possibilities “as we still grapple with a national pandemic.” “We shut down last year for two reasons,” Gadomski explains. “First, it was the right thing to do, in respect for all the hospital workers battling against the virus. Plus, we couldn’t get a solid answer from our insurance carrier about what would happen if we had an outbreak.”
Still, like restaurants innovating new ways to serve customers through takeout service and outdoor distance dining, some Tri-State teams explored new avenues, as Gadomski recites. “The Terryville Black Sox (2019 Tri-State champions) branched out to play in the (Harford based) Connecticut Twilight League. “When MLB canceled the minor leagues, Baltimore Orioles farmhand Willie Yahn formed another team (the Great Falls Gators) in the CTL which included several Tri-Town Trojans. “The Bristol Greeners played in the Nutmeg League.” The contacts led Gadomski to off-season discussions with these leagues as well as the Hartford Twlight League about the possibility of interleague play this year. “Just like playing a new golf course is exciting, we thought playing other leagues would bring the same enthusiasm,” he says. “Guys love facing new pitching and seeing talent the other leagues bring.”
As a result, 16 interleague games are on this summer’s schedule between Tri-State and CTL teams and a mid-August CT All-Star Classic will include the Hartford Twilight League and Nutmeg League as well. The new opportunities compete with COVID’s ravages for Gadomski and his league. Like the rest of the world, a year “off” presented two different directions for Tri-State players. For the veteran players on legacy teams like Naugatuck and Litchfield, Gadomski surmises “the year in between put them in their own paths, with things like jobs and kids.” In the other direction, younger athletes, hungrier than ever for quality summer baseball, have packed the 13 remaining teams with 15-20 players apiece. “How many road (travel team) leagues have started?” Gadomski wonders idly.
Sure, there are many problems left. A few of the interleague games have resulted in forfeits beyond Tri-State’s control. Umpire boards were also hit last year; four games have already been rescheduled this season because there were no umpires available on the original days. And, of course, Gadomski and his board want the league’s team membership to rebound back to where it was. “Several teams have said they’ll be back next year, along with potential new teams,” Gadomski says. “Naugatuck, for instance, is too rich a baseball town to be missing long.”
Even the fledgling interleague trial balloon has the same kind of new wave possibility that’s sprung up for many businesses and schools. “If any good came out of COVID baseball, it’s the fact it has us talking,” says Gadomski. For Tri-State, under Gadomski’s guidance, any such further development has to be made on firm ground. “If we’re going any further with interleague considerations, it has to be with a solid league and firm commitments,” he says. Meanwhile, the Monarchs and Trojans, in full uniforms as specified by Tri-State by-laws, wrap up another quality baseball game in Northwest Connecticut’s Premier Amateur Wooden Bat League.
For optimists at Community Field on both sides, along with a smattering of fans, a new normal, led by Ed Gadomski, might look even better than the old one somewhere down the road.
Playoffs seeds: 1. Terryville, 2. Tri-Town, 3. Amenia, 4. Bethlehem, 5. Winsted, 6. Wolcott, 7. Blasius Chevrolet-Waterbury, 8. Southington, 9. Valley Thunder Ducks, 10. Torrington Twisters, 11. Burlington, 12. Canton, 13. Torrington Rebels
Terryville finishes third in AABC Stan Musial North East World Series
Friday August 14:
Copyright Gerry DeSimas Collinsville Press 8/15/21
Albany A’s righthander Ryan Lambert threw a complete game, striking out eight, allowing seven hits and giving up just two runs as the A’s eliminated Terryville, 4-2, at the AABC Stan Musial Northeast Region World Series Saturday at Libby Field in Weymouth, Mass.
Albany (38-3-1) advances to Sunday’s championship game against the Braintree White Sox (32-1) beginning at noon at Libby Field. The A’s will have to beat the White Sox twice to bring home the World Series title.
Terryville (24-2) lost to the A’s for the second time in two days and was eliminated from the tournament. The Black Sox beat Milford (CT) Hunters earlier in the day to remain alive.
Albany struck for three runs in the first inning beginning with Andrew Pedone driving in a run with a single. A batter later, an infield error on Craig Mastroianni’s fielders choice led to two more runs as the A’s built a 3-0 lead.
Tim Carroll capped off the scoring with an RBI single in the sixth inning when the A’s got four consecutive singles from Pedone, Mastroianni, Justin Brock and Carroll. Mastroianni and Brock each finished with two hits apiece.
In the first game of the day, Braintree’s Matt Foley hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Ian Fair hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning to lead Braintree to a 7-2 victory over Albany and advance to Sunday’s final. Braintree capitalized on three infield errors by the A’s to set up Foley’s home run.
Friday August 13:
Copyright Gerry DeSimas Collinsville Press 8/14/21
Andrew Pedone’s RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Albany (N.Y.) Athletics to a 2-1 win over the Terryville Black Sox in the second round of the AABC’s (American Amateur Baseball Congress) Northeast Region World Series Friday at Libby Field in Weymouth, Mass.
The A’s handed the Black Sox (23-1) their first loss of the season. Terryville won their opening round contest with a 9-0 shutout win in five innings over ADSL from Boston earlier on Friday. Black Sox pitchers Kenny Kerski and Dave Alarcon combined to pitch a no-hitter.
Against the A’s, Terryville took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning on a solo home run from Chris Ruiz. Albany tied it when Justin Brock’s RBI single drove in Nate Novak in the bottom of the sixth inning. A’s lefthander Chris Salamida tossed all eight innings, striking out 10 batters and giving up one earned run—a solo homer by Ruiz. Nick Hansen singled twice while Craig Mastroianni doubled and singled. Nate Novak singled three times.