Tristate inducts 8 new members to Hall of Fame in 2013

The 19-team Tri-State Baseball League welcomes eight new members — Chris Clark, Ed Gadomski, Tim Hamel, Bill Liefert, Pat Murphy, D.J. Reese, Jay Rocca and Rich Thomson — into its Hall of Fame tonight at 7 p.m. just before beginning its championship best-of-three series between the North Division Champion Tri-Town Trojans, based in Litchfield, and the South Division Champion Naugatuck Dogs.
Tonight’s inductees join 45 honorees from seven classes since the Hall of Fame was instituted in 2007 in a league that traces its roots to 1934.
Here’s a brief look at the latest members:
Chris Clark earned kudos as an All-Berkshire League catcher at Lewis Mills High School in 1993, batting .437 with six homers and 37 hits. Playing for Canton’s Zone I American Legion team that same year, he was an all-star there as well.
The talents spilled over to Torrington’s Tri-State League Rebels. That same summer, 1993, he helped the Rebels to the first of three straight league championships, winning the league’s MVP award in 1995.
Clark joined the league’s tradition of great player/coaches in 1999, leading the Rebels to another trio of championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
He extended his coaching reach as an assistant at Litchfield High School for the past eight years.
Ed Gadomski has become the face and heart of the league since he became its commissioner in 2003. Since then, he has shepherded its growth from six teams to its current 19. Over and above abilities as an organizer, administrator and enforcer, Gadomski’s passion for the game personifies a league that attracts like-minded players ranging from high school stars to active college players to retired minor and major leaguers.
Gadomski’s baseball passion first went public in his school years at Kaynor Tech, where he helped the Panthers to tech league championships in all four of his years as a pitcher/centerfielder, 1982-1985.
He took it to Mattatuck Community College (Waterbury), leading the team to a state championship with a team-leading .407 batting average as a freshman.
The passion never left through two years on the Oakville American Legion team, seven in the Waterbury Twi-Met League and 10 in the Nutmeg League.
That’s when he also played for Tri-State’s Thomaston Spoilers. Gadomski was league MVP in 2003, batting .456 the league champions.
It was the perfect segue into the commissioner chair in a league where the coaches are often the teams’ best players, past or present. Gadomski’s administrative talents have extended to additional roles as director for the Stan Musial State Tournament for the past eight years and, this year, as general manager of the Torrington Titans in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
He is also an active member of the Torrington Board of Umpires and plays in the over-38 league for the Thomaston Spartans.
Tim Hamel, a 1985 Terryville High School graduate, was another transplant from the Waterbury Twi-Met League. He played six seasons with that league’s Naugatuck Grads, then found his real home with the Thomaston Spoilers in 1988.
He was a Spoiler for 23 years as their shortstop and No. 3 hitter, including championship seasons in 1989 and 2003.
Hamel was one of the league’s leading hitters, batting over .400 in several seasons. A power-hitter as well, he once hit two home runs in the same game at Fuessenich Park.
Hamel now plays for Ordinary Joe’s in the Over-38 League.
Bill Liefert was a 1985 Berkshire League contemporary of Hamel’s. He was all-league at Litchfield High School, went off to pitch at Southern Connecticut State University, then returned to life as a Cowboy on Litchfield’s Tri-State team.
The lefty helped anchor the Cowboys’ pitching staff for 12 years, including co-MVP league honors in 1989.
Liefert switched to the newly-formed Terryville Titans in 1996, helping them win the league title that same year.
He still plays in Southington’s over-38 league.
Pitcher Pat Murphy has been a part of major championship efforts for a long time. A 1988 graduate of Wolcott High School, he went to Eastern Connecticut State University, becoming the Warriors’ all-time leader in career saves and pitching appearances. He was part of Eastern’s 1990 Division III National Championship and the Warrior captain as a senior in 1992.
He spent summers playing in the Twi-Met league, where he earned over 100 pitching victories in 10 years and for the Bethlehem Plowboys for 14 years in the Tri-State League.
Murphy won three league championships with the Plowboys. He was the league’s MVP in 2001 and its Cy Young winner in 2002.
Now he plays for the Wolcott Senior Scrappers in the over-38 league.
D.J. Reese started earning baseball championships in Winsted’s Little League. As a four-year Gilbert starter in center field, he was an all-state, all-league team captain in 1993 when he led the Yellowjackets to a Class S State Championship.
Summers, he played for Winsted’s Northwest Connie Mack League champions in 1992, its American Legion Zone I North Division Champions in 1993, and for its Tri-State League team beginning in 1992.
Reese started at Southern New Hampshire University (Hooksett, New Hampshire) as a freshman, but an injury ended his college playing career the following year.
But not his Tri-State career. He played for Winsted through 1994, then joined the Bethlehem Plowboys, helping them to their first title in 1998.
He returned to Winsted as the Whalers’ player/coach in 1999, guiding them to a league championship in 2008.
The college injury steered Reese’s baseball ambitions to coaching.
He began as an assistant coach at Gilbert in 1997, then head coach after two years, leading the Yellowjackets to their only Berkshire League baseball title in a 19-1 season. In eight years, Reese’s teams failed qualified for the state tournament all but one time, then made it to the quarterfinals in his final year, 2007.
Reese also coached Winsted’s American Legion team in 1997 and 1998.
Jay Rocca was a teammate and friend of follow-inductee Pat Murphy, from their playing days at Wolcott High School through three of Rocca’s five championships with the Bethlehem Plowboys.
Rocca went to Southern Connecticut; Murphy went to Eastern. Then Rocca played for Modern Motors for 10 years in the Twi-Met League and the Plowboys, beginning in 1994.
He was the league’s MVP in 1996 and 1998.
Retired from Tri-State, Rocca is still winning championships, with the Washington Senators in 2012 in the over-40 league. This summer, he switched to Wolcott’s over-40 team.
Rich Thomson is one of the league’s legendary power hitters.
He began showing it early, in back-to-back Babe Ruth team titles at 14 and 15, then as a Torrington High School third baseman who helped his team to the NVL title in his senior year, 1993.
Big and powerful, he earned his nickname, Shaq, as a Torrington High School basketball player, but it stuck through summers with the Torrington Connie Mack baseball team, then, as a senior, with the Torrington Rebels Tri-State team.
Thomson joined the Rebels in the second year of their four-year run as league champions, 1992-1995.
Joining a championship team, Thomson, a natural infielder, moved to the outfield for a spot in the lineup, then regularly deposited home runs into the river beyond Fuessenich Park’s left field fence, plus a few balls off the house beyond the right field fence as well.
He was the league MVP in 1997 while the Rebels won another league title, then helped them to three more in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
Thomson still plays in a wooden bat fall league in Avon.