Tag: ghtbl

GHTBL’s 7th Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament

Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League’s 7th Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament is officially scheduled for Sunday, September 15, 2024 at Blackledge Country Club – 180 West Street, Hebron, Connecticut.

Here’s the itinerary:

Check-in: 12 PM Noon with lunch served
Shotgun start: 1 PM
Dinner: directly after golf
GHTBL Annual Awards: presented to award winners in attendance
Golfers to receive a complimentary gift

Tee Sign Sponsor: $100
Silver Sponsor: $300
Gold Sponsor: $500

The general public, alumni, current players, family and friends are welcome to participate.

Become a sponsor with a donation (W-9 available to all donors) or sign up your foursome before September 1st.

Download and fill out the form below to register and/or sponsor:


You may also download a W-9 form for your tax records:


This event helps the GHTBL to differ league expenses year after year.

We’ll see you there and feel free to message Marc Levin of Malloves Jewelers with any questions or comments via email: marc@malloves.com.

Outdoor patio and firepit at Blackledge Country Club, Hebron, CT

The Twi’ Welcomes Photographer Nicholas Furino

Recently, a local talent named Nicholas Furino has been selected as GHTBL’s official League Photographer. The Twi-loop looks forward to sharing his candid photos and drone shots of each team amid the 2024 Regular Season and Playoff Tournament.

Hailing from East Haven, Connecticut, Furino is a graduate of East Haven High School and is going into his senior year at Eastern Connecticut State University. In 2023, Furino was a left-handed relief pitcher for the ECSU Warriors and tallied 12 innings and 9 strikeouts on the season. Then Furino decided to lean into media studies, becoming a photographer and videographer for the Warriors Athletic Department. He now works as a freelance photographer. Nick’s parents are Amy and Mario Furino and his siblings are Nathan and Natalie Furino.

Please join the league in welcoming Nicholas Furino to this new role.

See more of Nick’s work on Instagram: @nick.visions.

Honoring the Life of Mark Foss, GHTBL President

The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League bids a fond yet somber farewell to our former President, Mark Foss. He headed the league from 2006 to 2013.

GHTBL Executives: Mark Foss (right) with his wife Jane Foss & Jim Gallagher.

Mark and his wife Jane served the Twi-loop as steady leaders and perennial Foss Insurance franchise sponsors during the 2000s and 2010s. They were crucial directors and contributors who held the league together behind the scenes. Mark and Jane bridged the gap between generations and guided GHTBL towards a more competitive brand of baseball.

Mark was a Korean War veteran with the United States Army, a father of four children and an avid Boston Red Sox fan.

Funeral service celebrating Mark’s life will be Thursday (June 13, 2024) at 5 pm at the D’Esopo East Hartford Memorial Chapel, 30 Carter Street, East Hartford. Mark’s family will receive relatives and friends on Thursday afternoon from 3-5 pm at the funeral home chapel.

See more: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/east-hartford-ct/mark-foss-11848162

Twilight’s 2024 Season Preview: Can Anyone Down the Jets?

On Thursday, May 23, 2024, the GHTBL Regular Season will begin. Managers and players alike are itching to reunite with teammates at Connecticut’s top venues. Ranging from Palmer Field in Middletown to historic Muzzy Field in Bristol, the league has spared no expense in organizing top-notch baseball action at a semi-professional caliber. With the start of a new season, one question lingers: can anyone down the East Hartford Jets and stop them from winning a fifth consecutive Playoff Championship?

East Hartford Jets & Chris Kehoe, General Manager (right). Photo cred: Phil Ledwith

All eight returning clubs have been busy this offseason improving rosters and preparing to compete for both the Regular Season Title and Playoff Championship. It’s the opinion of this author that a pennant-winning club will require a combination of established veterans and young talent. Game one of Opening Day will feature the South Windsor Phillies against the Vernon Orioles at 6:00 PM McCoy Field in Vernon. Undoubtedly, the game will be witnessed by the home team’s “Left Field Legion” of diehard fans.

McCoy Field at Henry Park, Vernon, Connecticut.

The Vernon O’s, one of last year’s Regular Season co-champions, welcome the return of their offensive stars, especially 2023 GHTBL home run leader Peter Kelley. The Trubia brothers are back again. So is the O’s best all-around player and former minor leaguer, Jimmy Titus. The O’s will also feature Eastern Connecticut State University prospects, Alejandro Soriano and Hank Penders, in their second twi-loop campaign. Manager Jack Ceppetelli has headed the Orioles since 2002. Steve Krajewski, a former O’s skipper, is the current General Manager, while Kevin Powell serves as an Assistant GM and Bench Coach.

Manager Ron Pizzanello and his South Windsor Phillies seek to take down the O’s in game one, though Vernon is tough place to win. The Phillies are headlined by moundsmen Luke Mathewson and Trevor Moulton as well as longtime outfielder Jack Petrozza. Successful newcomers from last season, Justin Oquendo and Javier Irizarry, are returning for their second year. A rookie addition to South Windsor is Kaden Murphy, a pitcher from University of Saint Joseph. Gary Burnham Jr. has stayed aboard as General Manager and hitting guru.

That same Thursday night the Record-Journal Expos will travel to McKenna Field to face the East Hartford Jets, and over in Manchester at Northwest Park, the Bristol Greeners look to steal an early win against Rainbow Graphics. Both games begin at 7:00 PM.

The Jets hope to continue their dynasty with infielders Corey Plasky and Jeff Criscuolo, who have been as lineup linchpins in on both sides of the ball. Plasky earned the Most Valuable Playoff Batter award back in August of ’23. Criscuolo will reprise his role as player-manager and Chris Kehoe, who’s been a part of the Jets since 1991, remains General Manager.

Major contributors of East Hartford’s dynasty-run have been Jimmy Schult and Taylor Kosakowski. Both men have signaled their retirement from the league or at least a role reduction. Schult played 5 GHTBL seasons as two-way all-star solely for the Jets and was probably their best all-around player. Kosakowski started his twilight career in 2007 and won 2 Regular Season titles and 7 Playoff championships.

East Hartford’s opening day opponent, the Record-Journal Expos, expect to play spoilers with an experience pitching rotation. This consists of 2023 innings leader JD Tyler, their former player-manager Charlie Hesseltine, and AJ Hendrickson, their current player-manager who’s planning a return to the mound after being injured last year. Other returners are: Kyle Hartenstein, Ben Schulz, Max Giacco, Hector Gonzalez and Jason Sullivan.

Over in Bristol, the Greeners are improving. Manager Trevor Mays has established a core of younger players and new recruits. Veteran Greeners include Jon Pierce at first base, AJ Lorenzetti in the outfield, and Trevor Nohilly and Kenny Knox on the mound. New Greeners include Eric Corhouse and Jacoby Banks. Bristol’s home ballpark at Muzzy Field is both a fan and player favorite, hosting some of the largest turnouts of the Regular Season.

Heading east of the Connecticut River, the Rainbow Graphics are formidable both offensively and defensively. Tyler Repoli, Most Valuable Player of ’23, leads the offensive charge for the Graphics. Their pitching staff is headed by veterans Evan Chamberlain and Travis Salois. With a recent Liberty League championship at Ithaca College under his belt, twi-loop sophomore John Griffin is expected to pitch at an even higher level than last season. Outfielders Mark DiTomasso and Eric Brainard are planning comeback seasons with Rainbow in ’24.

M&T Bank, last season’s postseason runner-up, wants to end this summer with some hardware. They start on May 31, 2024, armed with a dominant pitching staff, including the likes of Brandon Fry, Camden Murphy, and Matt Smith. Line drive-hitting outfielder Shaun Callahan is coming off of a recent NE10 Conference Championship with the University of New Haven. Manager Tom Abbruzzese is set to guide his team in his 49th season coaching the “Bankers” franchise. New additions include Gianni Zarrilli Jr. and Tim Pfaffenbichler.

With far less experience in the league, the Middletown Mets are seeking to improve upon their inaugural campaign. The Mets offense features two impressive GHTBL sophomores, 2023 Rookie of the Year Will Kleinhenz and Albertus Magnus graduate Ron Losacano. With a bolstered pitching staff and mainstays like Alex Koletar and side-armer Dan Livingston, the Mets seek to cause problems for opposing clubs. Livingston has pitched in the GHTBL for the last 25 years.

Dan Livingston earns a GHTBL win, Hartford Courant, June 30, 1999.

The 2024 Regular Season will conclude with the Stadium Series 4 Food Banks at Dunkin’ Park. On August 1 and 2, all eight clubs will play at Connecticut’s signature minor league ballpark. Proceeds from theses games will be donated to support a local food bank designated by each GHTBL team. $830 has been raised (most contributors have come from Vernon’s “Left Field Legion”) Visit the donation page here: https://givebutter.com/ss4fb

Dunkin’ Park, Hartford, Connecticut.

Thank you to the fans, sponsors, players, managers, and families who support the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. With your continued support, the summer of ’24 will be special.

Stadium Series 4 Food Banks at Dunkin’ Park

Summer is coming and another season of twilight baseball nears!

GHTBL is pleased to announce that our 2024 Regular Season will be highlighted by another charity event at the home of the Hartford Yard Goats – Dunkin’ Park – America’s best minor league ballpark. This year will mark the eighth consecutive “Stadium Series” organized by GHTBL in support of local charities.

Two doubleheaders (four games) are scheduled for Thursday, August 1, 2024, and Friday, August 2, 2024, at 6 PM and 8 PM.


This time around, the games will benefit food banks in the Greater Hartford area. Eight GHTBL franchises will compete on the field and off the field to raise money for food banks in or around their respective towns. The GHTBL club that raises the most will earn prizes! 

Here are the teams and their beneficiaries: 

This event is open to the public.

Buy tickets to help feed families, children and anyone experiencing food insecurity.

General Admission is for all four games (both nights). Show your ticket at the Main Gate.

You may purchase tickets on this webpage or in person at the games. Kids 14 and under attend free.

Come watch the top amateurs in Connecticut at the top minor league ballpark in America, and support this local cause.

Concessions will be open.


Here are the donations GHTBL has made from our events at Dunkin’ Park:

2017: $5,641 to @campcourant
2018: $4,500 to @ctchildrens
2019: $7,000 to @ms_4_ms
2020: $2,000 to @coltfoundation
2021: $5,624 to @ConnSportsFdn
2022: $5,035 to @sandyhook
2023: $4,000 to @hartfordpal

Note: The full 2024 Regular Season schedule will be announced at a later date.

Twi-Poll: Predict the 2024 Pennant Winners

Thanks for voting and we’ll see you at the park! …Especially Aug 1 & Aug 2 at Dunkin Park.

Let’s enjoy the competitive baseball, and a great start to the summer.

Baseball Bloodlines: The Spanswick Family

The Spanswick’s of Enfield, Connecticut, were once the most talented family of pitchers in New England. Two brothers, William Henry “Bill” Spanswick Jr. and James “Jim” Spanswick as well as Jim’s son, Jeff Spanswick, excelled as amateurs and professionals. At different points in their careers, each of them also appeared in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. Let’s take a closer look at their story…

The Spanswick family lived in the Thompsonville section of Enfield. Bill’s father, William Henry “Harry” Spanswick Sr. originally hailed from Hartford, while his mother, Bonnie Spanswick was from Enfield. Harry was an employee of the Hartford Machine Screw Company, an amateur ballplayer, a local bowling champion, and a soon-to-be Little League coach. Harry and Bonnie had four children: Bill, James, Barbara and Nancy. Bill Spanswick Jr. was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on July 8, 1938, and Jim arrived three years later.

Bill Spanswick Jr., 1956.

Both Bill and Jim Spanswick developed into standout athletes at Enfield High School. The brothers once pitched no-hitters in the same week for American Legion Maciolek Post 154. Bill was a 6’3″ left-handed pitcher with a lively fastball. He threw seven consecutive shutouts, one no-hitter and seven one-hitters in his senior year of high school. Nicknamed “Span,” Bill matriculated to the College of the Holy Cross and starred on the freshman baseball team.

Enfield High School yearbook, 1956.

Then in 1958, Bill Spanswick signed with his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. However, his quick decision was costly. He accepted the contract over the phone from Jack Onslow – a Red Sox scout and former manager of the Hartford Senators. Onslow showed up at the Spanswick residence the next morning, and the $4,000 contract was inked at the kitchen table. And yet, Major League Baseball soon revoked a bonus rule and Spanswick lost out on $60,000.

Nevertheless, Bill Spanswick traveled west to join Boston’s Class-D Midwest League affiliate in Waterloo, Iowa. He was quickly promoted to the Lexington Red Sox of the Nebraska League and posted a 7-4 record with a 3.13 ERA and a league-leading 142 strikeouts. In an August 21, 1958, game against the Superior Senators he tallied 22 strikeouts, a Nebraska League record.

Raleigh wins behind Spanswick, August 4, 1959.

The following season he advanced to the Carolina League and dominated for the Raleigh Capitals. His win-loss record soared to 15-4 behind a 2.49 earned run average. He led the league in both categories and Raleigh went on to capture the pennant. “Span” was considered a top prospect in the Red Sox organization, which included other arms such as Dick Radatz, Dave Morehead, Earl Wilson and Wilbur Wood.

That same year Jack Onslow signed Bill’s brother, Jim Spanswick to the Red Sox organization. He was another hard-throwing southpaw who chucked three consecutive no-hitters at Enfield High School. In the minors, Jim tossed a total of 407 innings with the Red Sox (1960-1962) and the Washington Senators (1963). After being released by the Winston-Salem Red Sox in 1964, he took the mound at Colt Park in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League for Herb’s Sports Shop and later for Royal Typewriter.

Meanwhile, Jim’s older brother was nearing the major leagues. Bill endured minor bumps along the way with Boston’s Triple-A affiliate, the Seattle Rainiers. In 1963, he mastered control problems to become an All-Star and the Pacific Coast League strikeout king (209). He had a 14-8 record for last place Seattle, and three of his defeats were by a difference of one run. During this time, both Spanswick brothers served their country as reserves for the United States Marines Corps.

Coming out of 1964 Spring Training in Tucson, Arizona, Red Sox Manager Johnny Pesky admired Spanswick’s ability and judged him to be ready for the majors. The Associated Press ranked Spanswick, “…the brightest pitching prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization.” When he made the team, the 25 year old lefty credited his minor league coach, Mace Brown, for helping him prepare mentally. It would be Spanswick’s only big league season.

Spanswick made his debut by tossing three innings of hitless relief at Fenway Park on April 18, 1964, against the White Sox. His first win came on May 8, versus the Washington Senators in a 9-3 victory. Bill’s teammates started calling him “Crow” for his dark and bird-like physical features. He was known to have a habit of stashing Camel cigarettes in his cap – something he may have learned in the Marines.

On June 12, 1964, Bill Spanswick faced his toughest opponents yet. Mickey Mantle and the New York Yankees beat up on the Red Sox, 10-6 at Yankee Stadium. Mantle had two hits and a pair of RBI. The contest was indicative of Span’s 1964 season. He pitched in 29 games with a bloated 6.89 ERA, 55 strikeouts, 44 walks and a 2-3 record. The Red Sox sank to eighth in the American League. He showed flashes of brilliance, but reporters described his time in Boston as a failure.

Bill Spanswick, Boston Red Sox, 1964.

In 1965, Bill Spanswick was traded to the Triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs. He earned a 6-3 record before being released again. The California Angels organization picked him up in 1966, but his career was coming to an end due to elbow injuries. He returned to Connecticut once more to be with family and took a sales job in the trucking industry. In a surprise appearance, he pitched his last game for Hamilton Standard of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League – beating Moriarty Brothers 4-3 on June 28, 1967. Bill would later established Spanswick Trucking, which remains a family business to this day.

Bill Spanswick stayed connected to baseball through coaching. In 1991, he managed American International College to the NCAA Division-II College World Series. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame as the town’s only major leaguer. Upon retiring to Naples, Florida, he became an usher for Red Sox Spring Training games at JetBlue Park. Bill Spanswick died peacefully in Florida on December 2, 2020, and was buried at Thompsonville Cemetery.

Bill Spanswick featured in Globe Sports, July 17, 1967.

I feel good about saying I pitched in the big leagues. Back then, there were only eight teams in the American League. You were one of 72 guys pitching. You had to prove yourself in the minor leagues. It’s pretty special.”

Bill Spanswick Jr.
Bill Spanswick, 1979.

Bill’s nephew and Jim’s son, Jeff Spanswick, represented the next generation of the family. Naturally, Jeff was an ace pitcher at Enfield High School. The young right-hander had expert level coaches including Enfield’s longtime skipper, Bob Bromage. Jeff suited up for American International College where his Uncle Bill was head coach. At AIC, Jeff became an ECAC All-Star and a Division-II Second Team All-American. Though he was never drafted, Jeff followed his family’s footsteps by pitching at Fenway Park in the 1992 College All-Star Game (the Division-I All-Stars defeated the Division-II & Division-III All-Stars, 6-3).

Jeff Spanswick took time off from baseball after college, and in 1994 he married Lisa Noyes of Enfield. Four years later he made a return to the diamond with the East Hartford Jets of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. Thanks in large part to Jeff’s 7-0 record, the Jets and their manager Hal Benson were co-champions of the 1998 Regular Season. Jeff Spanswick played for East Hartford until 2002 when he changed teams to Mr. G’s (Giansanti) of South Windsor. Mr. G’s won the 2002 Regular Season in Spanswick’s last year in baseball.

Sources

1. Bill Spanswick by Bill Nowlin, SABR Bio Project, 2021: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/Bill-Spanswick/.

2. Bill Spanswick Dies, Enfield’s Only Major League Baseball Player by Tim Jensen, Patch.com: 2020, https://patch.com/connecticut/enfield/bill-spanswick-dies-enfields-only-major-league-baseball-player.

3. Mass Live article by David Dorsey, The News-Press, 2012: Bill Spanswick, formerly of Enfield and Boston Red Sox, finds new home at Jet Blue Stadium

Eight Twi-Loop Clubs to Return This Year

With summer around the corner, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is gearing up for our next Opening Day. Though an exact date has yet to be determined, you can expect more announcements as the schedule unfolds. Eight GHTBL franchises will return to action around late May of this year. The 2024 Regular Season should include another charity series at Dunkin’ Park. Each team will fundraise for a different food bank around the state. Read more about this effort called Stadium Series 4 Food Banks at Dunkin’ Park: Givebutter.com/ss4fb (more to come on this).

The twilight league continues to present a uniquely competitive experience for players of all ages. A mix of young and old teammates – local amateurs, college players, high school prospects, and ex-professionals – have developed talent, camaraderie and lifelong friendships. Deep into each season, teams seem to melt together in one way or another in pursuit of a common goal. To describe the GHTBL, one might say we’re a meritocracy operated by a large group of friends with help from umpires.

Peter Kelley, 1B, Vernon Orioles
GHTBL’s switch-hitting home run king of 2023.

Maybe that’s why GHTBL has staying power? For the last 95 years, the league has clung to a classic style of the game. Baseball purists seem to appreciate that the league requires nine players to a lineup while disallowing leniencies like metal bats, courtesy pinch-runners, and free-for-all substitutions. Whatever the reason, the tradition continues. After all, traditions are important, and they don’t go unrecognized. When a sport as beloved as baseball is played and witnessed in a pure form, virtually unchanged from years gone by, that’s something people can appreciate.

On behalf of President Holowaty and the Executive Committee, enjoy the rest of your off-season and here’s to another summer!

To apply for a roster spot, players are asked to fill out a Player Application found at GHTBL.org/join. Here’s a list of our current teams and managers:

League Management









GHTBL Executive Committee

Jack Ceppetelli
Treasurer
Wes Ulbrich Secretary
Wes Ulbrich
Secretary
Ryan Ruggiero GHTBL Assistant Secretary
Ryan Ruggiero
Assistant Secretary




Back in 1979, Gene Johnson of Moriarty Brothers in Manchester was bestowed with the “Player of the Half Century Award” by the GHTBL Hall of Fame. Here’s Gene (right) accepting the award from his teammate, Peter Sala (left).



GREATER
HARTFORD
TWILIGHT
BASEBALL
LEAGUE


Where Are They Now? GHTBL Players Leading Impressive Careers

Recently, Rainbow Graphics player-manager Jason Valliere accepted a role as Assistant Sports Information Director at the United Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. Congratulations to Jason on his latest career move! Jason is on a path to a promising career in sports. He joins the countless number of twilight players who have worked for high profile institutions – men who have led inspiring careers in athletics, business, and public service.

Jason Valliere, Player-manager, Rainbow Graphics

Hundreds of twilight leaguers have made their mark in a wide array of professions and careers. From coaching to teaching to sales and management, you might say that GHTBL alumni help keep the economy going. And you might be wondering, “where are they now?” Well, here’s a list of former twilight players and their current occupation followed by their company or organization:

  • Ryan Aiken, Operations Manager & Treasurer, High Grade Gas Service, Inc.
  • Greg Annino, Senior Field Technician, Greenskies Clean Energy
  • Chris Anselmo, Realtor, Marino Realty
  • Brian Archibald, Special Education Teacher, Bristol Central High School
  • Jeff Bagwell, Special Advisor, Houston Astros
  • Steve Bartunek, Insurance Agent, RDDK
  • Andy Baylock, Director, UConn Football Alumni/Community Affairs
  • Ken Bratina, Program Director, Connecticut Junior Republic
  • Conor Bremer, Supplier Program Manager, Dynetics, Inc.
  • *Brett Burnham, Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual
  • *Steve Cannata, Head Coach, Kingswood-Oxford School Baseball
  • Clarke Caudill, Area Sales Manager, Intuitive
  • Tony Cekovsky, Regional Account Manager, Monster Energy
  • *Jack Champagne, Teacher, Longmeadow School District
  • *Paul Ciotto, Engineering Director, Aetna
  • Rob Cipolla, MSSP Sales, IBM
  • Chris Corkum, Founder, Chris Corkum’s Baseball, Inc.
  • *Scott Cormier, Vice President of Purchasing, Katsiroubas Produce
  • *Tony Dedominicis, Musician
  • Tyler Dew, Attorney and Claim Director, Chubb Insurance
  • Ryan DiPietro, Senior Environmental Inspector, BL Companies
  • Mark DiTommaso, Kitchen Designer, EHL Kitchens
  • Doug Elliot Jr., Financial Advisor, Marcum LLP
  • Doug Elliot Sr., President, The Hartford (retired)
  • Jake Fournier, Financial Manager, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
  • Paul Gallo, Lead Instructor, Los Angeles Dodgers Training Academy
  • *Ralph Giansanti Jr., Financial Advisor, Infinex Investments, Inc.
  • *Roberto Giansiracusa, Owner, GimaSport
  • John Gieras, Teacher, Somers Public Schools
  • *Kevin Gieras, Detective, New York Police Department
  • TJ Grande, Senior IT Business Management Specialist, Burns and McDonnell
  • Matt Grosso, EVP of Business Development, Wentworth DeAngelis & Kaufman Insurance
  • Jerry Hasler, Vice President, Forestville Manufacturing
  • Mike Hepple, Insurance Broker, Wentworth, DeAngelis & Kaufman Insurance
  • Rick Hewey, Contract Administrator, Hartford HealthCare
  • Charlie Hickey, Head Coach, Central Connecticut State University Baseball
  • Dan Hickey, Client Manager II, Lockton Companies
  • Nick Hock, Batting Practice Specialist, Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore Orioles)
  • Matt Hodges, Off Campus Operations Manager, University of Pennsylvania
  • Jack Hurley, Pension Consultant, PASI
  • *Scott Jeamel, VP Financial Consultant, Charles Schwab
  • Dave Katz, Owner, Katz Sport Shop
  • Chris Kehoe, Technical Architect, TriZetto Group
  • *Tom Kirby, Chief Financial Officer, JE Shepard Company
  • *Steve Krajewski, Assistant Director, Vernon Parks and Recreation Department (Retired)
  • John Kubachka, Operations Manager, Town of Newington
  • James Kukucka, Financial Analyst, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
  • Ryan Lamarche, Owner, RDL Painting
  • **Gary LaRocque, Director of Player Development, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Matt Lavatori, Vice President of Client Services, Fred C. Church Insurance
  • Marc Levin, Owner, Malloves Jewelers
  • Derek Litke, Business Develop Manager, Triumph Group
  • *Jason Maule, Physical Education Teacher, Meriden Public Schools
  • *Brian Marshall, Field Reimbursement Manager, Novartis
  • Steve Matyczyk, Principal, Tariffville Elementary School
  • Frank McCoy Jr., Personal Injury Attorney, McCoy & McCoy
  • Adam McLaughlin, Senior Vice President, Webster Bank
  • *Todd Mercier, Manager, Murray Kaizer Inc.
  • Daryl Morhardt, Head Coach, Housatonic High School Baseball 
  • Greg Morhardt, Professional Scout, Boston Red Sox
  • Mike Mowel, Chief Accounting Officer, Safepoint Holdings
  • *Walter Nakonechny, Science Department Chair, Rockville High School
  • Tyler Olander, Assistant Coach, University of Saint Joseph Men’s Basketball
  • Basilio Ortiz, Youth Services Officer, CT Department of Children and Families
  • Cory Parker, Sales Manager, AnnieMac Home Mortgage
  • Joe Parlante, Sales Account Manager at New England Industrial Supply
  • Jim Penders, Head Coach, UConn Baseball
  • *Adam Peters, Corporate Safety Director, KBE Building
  • Kevin Powell, Second Vice President, Travelers (retired)
  • *Bunty Ray, Teacher and Coach, Bristol Eastern High School
  • Cory Riordan, Pitching Coach, Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays)
  • Kevin Rival, Founder, CT Rivals AAU Program
  • Jake Ruder, Manager, Fastenal
  • Peter Rynkowski, Senior Executive Recruiter, Ed-Exec, Inc.
  • *Dave Sacco, Operating Manager, Rhino Insurance Services
  • *Harvey Shapiro, Manager, Wareham Gatemen (retired)
  • *Michael Schweighoffer, Chief Lending Officer, Farmington Bank
  • Jim Shannon, Owner, Metro Communications
  • Charlie Shover, Plant Manager, Corsicana Mattress Company
  • *Jim Snediker, Commercial Insurance Leader, Travelers
  • Chris Strahowski, Teacher, Windham Technical H.S. & Adjunct Professor, SCSU
  • David Swanson, KZone Producer, ESPN and Founder of Swanson Baseball
  • Rob Tenzca, Project Manager, Arcadis
  • Tom Thibodeau, Head Coach, New York Knicks
  • **Leo Veleas, Head Coach, Berlin High School
  • Pete Walker, Pitching Coach, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Justin Waz, Director of Revenue Operations, RecDesk Software
  • Josue Zamora, Police Officer, State of Connecticut
  • *James Ziogas Jr. Attorney at Law, Ziogas Law

*GHTBL Hall of Fame Inductee
**GHTBL Hall of Fame Gold Glove Honoree

Comment below with your addition to this list.

Excellent Turnout at Golf Tourney Raising Funds for GHTBL

On Sunday, September 17, 2023, GHTBL alumni, friends and family gathered for another twi-loop event on the golf course. The 6th Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament went off without a hitch and was successful in raising plenty of funds for the league. There were a record number of golfers in attendance this year at 108. Right now, thanks to so many contributors, GHTBL is in great financial position to grow the league.

Thank you to the following sponsors who came through for the league in a big way:

Connecticut Lighting Centers
Famiglietti & Famiglietti
David Chapman, Attorney
SRC, Certified Public Accountants
Balaban & Raczka Law
Best Cleaners of Middletown
David and Terry Gilbert
Phil Wieloch
Larry Mchugh

GHTBL is grateful for your continued support!

Celebrating the Life of Ray Gliha, National Champion

Recently on August 14, 2023, a former GHTBL player, Raymond E. Gliha, passed away peacefully at his home in Manchester, Connecticut. He lived a full life that was closely associated with local baseball. Gliha was passionate about the game and he excelled on the diamond for many teams.

Raymond E. Gliha (1959-2023)

Ray Gliha was born December 23, 1959. He was a lifelong Manchester resident who was known to have a witty sense of humor. He would often write a poem or limerick for friends and family on their birthday and anniversary celebrations. People close to Ray knew him as the life of the party, a very loyal friend and an avid Boston Red Sox fan.

1980 Eastern Connecticut State College Baseball Team

Gliha played for Manchester High School and Manchester American Legion Post 102 before going on to Eastern Connecticut State College. In 1979, he batted .375 as a walk-on Freshman under the guidance of Head Coach Bill Holowaty. Throughout his college career, Gliha batted .345 with 212 hits, 20 home runs and 161 RBI in 175 games. He tied a national record with six hits in a single game. He started at all three outfield positions on four straight NCAA Division III postseason teams.

Ray Gliha (left) dives back to second base, Eastern Connecticut, 1982.

During his senior season, Gliha played center field and batted .395 with 7 home runs and 47 RBI. He was tri-captain that year, the team MVP and a 3rd Team All-American. Eastern went on to play in the 1982 Division III World Series in Marietta, Ohio. Gliha scored the go-ahead run in two of the games. Then in a 12-inning thriller, Eastern beat California State Stanislaus, 9-8, thanks to Gliha’s bases loaded single. It was Eastern Connecticut Baseball’s first of five national titles.

Ray Gliha (left) homers for Eastern Connecticut, 1982.

Gliha also competed in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League for 17 consecutive seasons. His twi-loop career began in 1979 for Gene Johnson’s Moriarty Brothers and ended in 1995 with the same franchise (changed names to Newman Lincoln-Mercury in 1990). Gliha was named to the GHTBL All-Star team at least three times, and he won the league’s Gold Glove Award in 1989. In total, Gliha earned 4 Season Titles and 6 Playoff Championships as a top outfielder in the Twilight League.

Hartford Courant excerpt, June 10, 1982.

In 2002, Gliha was inducted into the ECSU Athletic Hall of Fame. His game-winning hit in the National Title game was fondly remembered at the induction. His level of play raised the bar for Eastern Connecticut Baseball for years to come. Gliha was said to have enjoyed his years playing baseball, especially because that’s where he accumulated many of his life-long friends.

Gliha helps Moriarty Brothers win GHTBL title, 1984.

Towards the end of his baseball career, Ray Gliha was interviewed by local sportswriter, Ed Yost of the Hartford Courant. When asked about his long association with the game, Gliha said, “Baseball is in my blood.” Then he recalled his favorite season:

The best Twi’ team I played on was in 1980. We had a well-balanced team but when we picked up Bill Masse and Chris Peterson (both out of high school) we were even better. We won both the regular season and playoffs and by big margins. We had a lot of guys who could hit the ball out of here. We just blew the other teams away. We’ve been successful because we have been able to get guys who know how to play. All of our guys have college or pro experience. Gene has been fun to play for. He wants to win and if you give 100% he’s satisfied. His motto has been to play hard and have fun.”

Ray Gliha, 1994.
2023 GHTBL Playoff Tournament Palmer Field

GHTBL’s 2023 Postseason to be Busier Than Ever

The 2023 GHTBL Playoff Tournament will begin on Monday, August 7, at two sites: Palmer Field in Middletown and McKenna Field in East Hartford.

As always, a double-elimination tournament will crown a Playoff Champion. Admission will be $10 for one adult all-tournament pass. Kids ages 14 and under will be free of charge. Concessions to be available at Palmer Field.

Dave Hutchins of Vernon will serve as PA announcer.

The postseason usually brings out the twilight league’s best baseball and closest contests. That should be the case this year, though seeding is yet to be determined for the playoffs – as most teams are still contending in the Regular Season. Here is the playoff bracket to be updated during the tournament on the GHTBL homepage:

2023 GHTBL Playoff Tournament Bracket 2

League note: The traditional format of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is to present the Regular Season and Playoff Tournament as two separate seasons. The Regular Season dictates the seed of each team for the Playoff Tournament. No less than 5 Regular Season appearances qualifies a player for the Playoffs. At the start of the Playoffs, all player stats are reset to zero.

p.s.

On Friday, August 18, the Connecticut Champions Cup will begin. The competition has been organized by four summer leagues in our state – GHTBL, Connecticut Twilight League, West Haven Twilight League and Tri-State Baseball League. GHTBL Managers will be selecting an all-star team. Special edition hats and jerseys to be provided by league. The cup format will be a double-elimination tournament held at the following sites:

8/18 – Ceppa Field, Meriden

8/19 – Fussenich Park, Torrington

8/20 – Finals at Muzzy Field, Bristol

Connecticut Champions Cup GHTBL Logo

More details to follow.

2021 Charlie Hesseltine Meriden GHTBL Record Journal Expos

Hesseltine’s 4-Hitter, Hendrickson’s Homer Carry R-J Expos to Latest Twilight Win

By Ron Buck, Special to the Record-Journal

MERIDEN — Where were you in 2002?

Charlie Hesseltine was 18, fresh out of Maloney High School and throwing his first pitches for the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League team that would become the Record-Journal Expos.

Fast forward to Tuesday night.

Now 38, Hesseltine was on the mound for the Expos — better than ever — in making quick work of the South Windsor Phillies.

The veteran southpaw twirled a four-hit complete game in beating the Phillies 3-1 in a GHTBL affair that lasted just over 90 minutes at Ceppa Field.

Hesseltine’s battery mate, A.J. Hendrickson, provided the offensive fireworks. The catcher not only launched a towering two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, he also drove in the tying run with a solid single in the fourth inning.

Hendrickson finished the game 2-for-3, while Jack Rich was 1-for-2 with a double to the right-field fence ahead of Hendrickson’s blast.

Phillies starter Luke Mathewson matched Hesseltine through five innings before allowing Rich’s double and then Hendrickson’s home run. Mathewson had allowed just three hits — all in the fourth inning when the Expos tied the game 1-1.

Hesseltine, toeing the rubber in his 17th season for a Meriden-based squad, finished strong after allowing all four Phillies’ hits over the first three innings. Overall, Hesseltine struck out seven 20-somethings en route to lifting the Expos to 8-5. 

The Phillies fell to 3-9.

“At my age, location is the key,” dead-panned Hesseltine, who until this season had played the role of player-coach of the Expos.

“All my pitches were working; and as long as I locate my pitches, they can’t put the barrel on the ball,” Hesseltine added. “If I’m middle-middle, they are hitting it a long way.

“My goal is to miss their barrels and let my defense do the work,” Hesseltine continued. “And, tonight, they did a great job behind me.”

Hesseltine was drafted by the Texas Rangers as a teenager out of high school. He would spend three seasons in the minor leagues before returning to Meriden. 

A staple with the Expos, Hesseltine allowed his only run Tuesday in the third inning.

Down 1-0, Hesseltine proceeded to retire the Phillies in order in three of the next four innings. Hesseltine’s shutdown performance allowed the Expos to tie the game in the fourth and then for Henrickson to win things in the sixth inning.

The Phillies’ only threat after scoring came in their own half of the sixth, when they put runners at first and third with two outs. 

Hesseltine, however, got some defensive help by fellow Maloney grad Max Giacco, who made a diving catch at second base to end the top of the sixth inning and keep the game tied.

The Expos then proceeded to score the winning runs in the bottom half when Hendrickson turned around a hanging curveball and launched a no-doubter well over the left field fence.

“I was sitting on a curveball up,” said Hendrickson, who took over the coaching duties from Hesseltine this season. “He’d thrown it to me both times I was up, so I was sitting on that and put a good swing on it.”

Back to Hesseltine. Before pitching in the minor leagues, the lefty threw for the Meriden Merchants after his days at Maloney. A mainstay of the Expos since the team’s inception, Hesseltine remains a part of this season’s 1-2 pitching punch with J.D. Tyler.

Sporting a few grey hairs in his beard these days, Hesseltine has combined with Tyler for six of the Expos’ eight wins so far this season.

“It makes it so easy when he’s on,” Hendrickson said of Hesseltine. “When all his pitches are working, he makes things so easy on everybody.

“Today everything was working for him and he was hitting spots,” Hendrickson added. “He was on his game today.”

2023 Stadium Series 4 Hartford PAL GHTBL Charity Event Dunkin' Park

Stadium Series 4 Hartford PAL

This season all 8 GHTBL teams will play benefit games to fundraise for the Hartford Police Athletic League at Dunkin’ Park. Bat raffles and concessions will be available at our Stadium Series 4 Hartford PAL:

Dunkin’ Park, 1214 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103

CLICK HERE to DONATE or to BUY TICKETS

For the seventh consecutive summer, GHTBL will go to bat for the local community. This year the Hartford Police Athletic League will be benefactors. Hartford PAL empowers the youth of Hartford to realize their greatest potential through mentoring, sports, education and a positive relationship with police officers. Learn more about this wonderful organization by visiting: https://www.hartfordpal.org.

All 4 Games at Dunkin’ Park presented by ProBats:

July 12 – 6 PM: Rainbow Graphics @ M&T Bank

July 12 – 8 PM: East Hartford Jets @ Middletown Mets

Jul 13 – 6 PM: Record-Journal Expos @ Bristol Greeners

Jul 13 – 8 PM: South Windsor Phillies @ Vernon Orioles

Concessions will be open!

Here are the results from GHTBL’s previous benefit games at Dunkin’ Park:

2017: $5,641 to Hartford’s Camp Courant

2018: $4,500 to Connecticut Children’s

2019: $7,000 to MS 4 MS

2020: $2,000 to Colt Park Friends and Foundation

2021: $5,624 to Connecticut Cancer Foundation

2022: $5,035 to Sandy Hook Promise

2023: $??? to Hartford PAL

Visit www.givebutter.com/hartfordpal to buy tickets or donate.

Be there for the kids! Together we are helping contribute to Hartford PAL and to the well-being of children and families in Hartford.

Make a donation at www.givebutter.com/hartfordpal. If not today, then we will see you at Dunkin’ Park on July 12 & 13!

CLICK HERE to DONATE or to BUY TICKETS

Share Fundraiser

IMGP0021Costanza (2)

With Smoke Set to Subside, Graphics Lead League Undefeated

The Rainbow Graphics franchise of Manchester have begun the 2023 Regular Season in near perfect form. They’ve been scorching opposing pitching so far and now sit atop the GHTBL standings at 6-0. The Graphics will seek to continue their hot play as the Canadian wildfire smoke subsides. Air quality standards have been determined to be playable and Rainbow Graphics will host the East Hartford Jets tonight at 7:00 PM at Northwest Park, Manchester.

The Graphics have managed to strike a balance between veteran players in their prime and rookie players contributing from the get-go. Some of their more experienced names have taken league leaderboards by storm: Travis Salois, Edison Galan, Tyler Repoli and Eric Anderson. First-timers like Dan Orzech and Matt Costanza have proven to be solid additions as regulars in the lineup and especially on defense.

Meanwhile, around the league, there are two other undefeated teams: Record-Journal Expos and M&T Bank. At least one of the three remaining no-loss teams will end their winning streak because the Expos and Bankers will face off at Wethersfield High School tonight at 6:00 PM. Even though four teams (Mets, Greeners, Orioles and Phillies) are mired at the bottom of the standings, plenty of their losses have been by two runs or less.

It should be another exciting season. As always, the GHTBL is proud to feature and promote some of the best amateur ballplayers in the State of Connecticut. With longtime veterans, former professionals, high school prospects and with so many new talents added to the league this year, the future is bright for twilight baseball in Greater Hartford.

To players: please do your best to keep your cool when taunted by opposing players or when you disagree with an umpire’s call. The league needs to maintain a working relationship with umpires and we must show them respect. Like it or not, GHTBL players reflect the character of the league. It’s in our best interest to keep our good reputation in tact. Everyone should act appropriately, even when it’s the hard thing to do – out of respect for each other, opponents and in front of fans of all ages. Sportsmanship still matters.

The league extends a sincere thank you to players and contributors who are representing the league well day in and day out. The season is going well thanks to so many of you. Be well and have a great summer! -Weston Ulbrich, League Secretary

NEXT GHTBL EVENT: JULY 12 & 13, 2023 – STADIUM SERIES 4 HARTFORD PAL

Jeff Criscuolo Appointed Jets Manager

With three consecutive Playoff Championships under their belts, the East Hartford Jets have selected Jeff “Crisco” Criscuolo as their first-time Manager.

When he began his GHTBL career in 2012 as an infielder from Saint Anselm College, Criscuolo found immediate success. He played second base for Ferguson Waterworks under Manager Greg Annino. Criscuolo’s quick bat, dependable glove and top-end speed helped Ferguson win the Regular Season Title and a second straight Playoff Championship in his rookie year. He moved over to shortstop the following year and Ferguson captured a third consecutive Playoff Championship.

2012 Ferguson Waterworks (Criscuolo kneeling second from left).

Flash forward to 2020 and Criscuolo decided to play for the East Hartford Jets. Led by then Manager Taylor Kosakowski and General Manager Chris Kehoe, Criscuolo and other key players propelled the Jets to three straight Playoff Championships. In part due to Criscuolo, history was repeated and another Twi-loop dynasty cemented itself at the top of the league.

2019 Jeff Criscuolo GHTBL East Hartford Jets
Jeff Criscuolo, SS, East Hartford Jets, 2019.

Criscuolo, originally a native of Durham, CT, will now take over in-game managerial duties in 2023. Many returners and several first year players are rumoured to be on board with the Jets this summer. Fans and onlookers can expect steady competition against East Hartford – they are presumed to be the team to beat. When opposing teams pick their starting pitcher and fill out lineup cards the Jets will likely see their best.

Cooper Johnson Adelphi Baseball GHTBL M&T Bank

Cooper Johnson, Third Generation Twilight Player

For the last five years, Cooper Johnson of Newington, Connecticut, has played at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. The center fielder has recently committed to M&T Bank for the upcoming 2023 GHTBL season as a third generation player. He will be joining the same franchise as his father, Mike Johnson, who played with Tom Abbruzzese’s Bank Boston team in the 1990’s. Cooper’s grandfather Rollie Johnson was a GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee and a significant figure in professional scouting.

Here are some of Cooper’s individual accolades coming into the GHTBL as a first-year player:

  • NE10 Academic Honor Roll – Academic Distinction
  • NE10 Academic Honor Roll – Academic Honors
  • Walked-off a win on his birthday (11th inning) w/ RBI single vs. Saint Rose in NE10 Tournament
Cooper Johnson Adelphi Baseball GHTBL M&T Bank 2
Cooper Johnson (left), Adelphi Baseball, 2023.

Cooper’s grandfather, Roland “Rollie” Johnson was a professional scout for more than 40 years, including 30 year with the New York Mets. He initially scouted for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973 to 1982. Rollie served as director of scouting for the Mets from 1986 to 1992. Rollie also co-authored influential baseball books – The Baseball Encyclopedia (1969) and The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball (1974).

During Johnson’s tenure as Director of Scouting with the Mets, there were several notable draft picks including Todd Hundley in 1987. Johnson also remembers drafting Curtis Pride on the recommendation of an area scout. Pride was 95% deaf, but a great athlete, and a greater individual.”

SABR Bio Project, Rollie Johnson by Alan Cohen
1964 Rollie Johnson Paces Twilight Loop
Rollie Johnson Paces Twilight Loop, 1964

Rollie had the rare opportunity to draft his son, Mike Johnson, in the 42nd round of the 1993 MLB Draft. Mike suited up for the New York Mets organization at Rookie ball in Kingsport. He was promoted to low and high Single-A the following year, but Mike’s professional career came to end shortly thereafter.

1975 Head for Baseball Camp Rollie Johnson St. Thomas Seminary
Rollie Johnson heads baseball camp at St. Thomas Seminary, 1975.

In 1990, Rollie earned an induction into the GHTBL Hall of Fame in the Players Division. He was a Trinity College graduate who began twi-loop ball in 1961 as a catcher for the East Hartford Merchants. Then he played for a team known as Landerman Orchestras – sponsored by Hartford’s most well known musicians of their era, Paul and Maurice Landerman. Rollie joined the Hartford Orioles in the summer of 1963. Rollie he finished his twilight career with Moriarty Brothers in 1973.

1990 Twilight Inductions GHTBL Hall of Fame
GHTBL Hall of Fame inductions, 1990.

(Aside: the Rollie Johnson family is unrelated to Gene Johnson’s family.)

Rollie was a veritable baseball junkie. After publishing two books, he was hired away from the Twilight League by the St. Louis Cardinals. From there Rollie enjoyed a marvelous scouting career. He was bestowed with the A.B. “Turk” Karam Award in 1998 and was later elected to the Professional Scouts Hall of Fame in 2009.

Rollie Johnson GHTBL Baseball Scout
Rollie Johnson (1940-2022)
2023 GHTBL Tribute to Gary Zavatkay

Gary Zavatkay, A Baseball Life

An excerpt published in the Hartford Courant on Apr. 16, 2023:

Gary was raised in Torrington and graduated from Torrington High School, class of 1979, where he was recognized as an all-star baseball and basketball player. Following high school, Gary received a “full ride” baseball scholarship to the University of New Haven where he started at third base all four years for the UNH Chargers and compiled such strong statistics that he was inducted into the UNH Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. To date, he ranks eighth in career RBIs (126) and recently fell out of the top-10 for all-time home runs.

In 1981, Gary played for the Harwich Mariners of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League and was named to the All-Region and All-New England Collegiate Conference in 1983. After graduation, his love for baseball continued and he played numerous seasons (1983-1988) on the Society for Savings team in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League all while continuing his education earning his MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hartford Campus.

Professionally, Gary leveraged the leadership skills he learned on the field and built a successful career as a National Account Manager for several industrial organizations such as J.M. NEY Company, Curtis Industries, and Barnes Distribution. In addition to his full-time job, he went on to have a prolific career as a women’s basketball official at the Division I, II, and III collegiate level, ultimately getting to spend time on the court refereeing teams of the Atlantic 10, Ivy League, American East and MAAC conferences.

In his personal life, Gary was an avid runner having completed the Boston Marathon and too many road races to count, namely the Litchfield Road Race, an annual occurrence with a large group of his friends and family in attendance. Over time, golf became his passion and something he enjoyed regularly with friends and family. He was a member of Indian Hill Country Club as well as Suffield Country Club where you would find him weekly trying to improve his game. We will always remember the many years filled with laughter on and off the course annually sponsoring what became known as the ZAV OPEN. Although Gary’s time with us was cut short, his memory will live on in the hearts of all who knew him for years to come.

For Gary’s full obituary go to: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/hartfordcourant/name/gary-zavatkay-obituary?id=51601640

2020 Pat Barnett Vernon Orioles Pitcher GHTBL

Preview: Opening Day & GHTBL’s 2023 Season

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, the GHTBL will open its 94th season for local amateurs, student-athletes, ex-professionals and prospects. Wood bats will start cracking on Opening Day with a 6 PM matchup at Frank J. McCoy Field in Vernon between the veteran Vernon Orioles and the Manchester-based Rainbow Graphics. Jason Valliere, a longtime contributor to the Tri-County Legion program will assume in-game duties as Head Coach for Rainbow Graphics this season.

It will be anyone’s guess as to which players, new or old, will make an impact on Opening Day. One may expect the most firepower to come from players fresh off their college season, but it would be a mistake to overlook years of experience.

Dan Trubia and Tony Trubia of the O’s and Evan Chamberlain of Graphics have nearly 60 years of combined experience of twilight ball. At the same time, it will be interesting to see how rookie players fare for both teams and throughout the league this season.

The second game of Opening Day will begin at 7 PM at Rotary Field in South Windsor. The Meriden-based Record-Journal Expos will play the South Windsor Phillies under the lights at one of Greater Hartford’s most unsung baseball diamonds. You’d be hard-pressed to find any player who doesn’t enjoy playing at Rotary Field.

A core group for Manager Ron Pizzanello and the South Windsor Phillies since forming in 2018 has included Aedin Wadja, Jake Petrozza, Patrick McMahon and a few others returning in 2023. AJ Hendrickson, 2022 GHTBL MVP, has stepped into the Expos manager role in place of Charlie Hesseltine, who had served as manager since 2017. Hesseltine has been a dominant pitcher for Meriden since 2004 and will continue to pitch for the team this year.

Over in East Hartford, the 3X Playoff Champion Jets will take flight on Thursday, May 25 at home against their main foe, the Vernon Orioles. O’s Manager Jack Ceppetelli will square off against the Jets and their newly re-appointed Manager Chris Kehoe. Both Ceppetelli and Kehoe are the most tenured GHTBL contributors behind Tom Abbruzzese – who is going into his 48th year as manager of the “Bankers” franchise – now named M&T Bank.

There is however, a newcomer in charge of the recently consolidated Middletown Mets. A sixteen year old named Ryan Ruggiero of Xavier High School will become the youngest manager to lead a GHTBL team. As an Assistant Coach for the Hartford Colts in 2022, Ruggiero welcomed the opportunity and the idea of moving the franchise to Middletown – a closer location for its players and an upgraded home field with Palmer Field and Buzzy Levin Field. Fixtures for the Mets are expected to be Albertus Magnus standout Sean Jefferson and former Keene State right-hander Alex Koletar on the mound.

The Bristol Greeners are entering their third GHTBL season and have managed to book one of Connecticut’s best ballparks, Muzzy Field, for a majority of their home games. They return under the direction of another young manager, Trevor Mays, in his second year at the helm. New additions to the Greeners will include Gabe Zamorano Jr., a freshman at University of St. Joseph and Robert Bibisi, a graduate of Utica University.

Last but not least, M&T Bank are once again expected to have the league’s best left side of the infield: former professional Willy Yahn at shortstop and Eastern Connecticut’s Brendan Lynch at third base. Along with a contingency of players from Elms College, Tom Abbruzzese seeks to regain his title-winning ways in a new sublimated, double-sided, M&T Bank uniform.

Note: a new uniform rule will take effect this season as voted on by GHTBL managers. Any player out of uniform (wrong jersey, wrong hat, different color pants, etc.) will earn their team a $50 league fine.

On behalf of President Holowaty, thank you to all of our league sponsors, fans, families, spouses and friends who support the twilight league!

2019 Buzzy Levin Field Middletown Baseball

Four Fields Named After Twilight Hall of Famers

Did you know? The following four ballparks are named after longtime GHTBL players, coaches, team sponsors and GHTBL Hall of Fame inductees:

1. Matthew M. Moriarty Field at Mt. Nebo park in Manchester, Connecticut – dedicated in 1975:

2. Ray McKenna Field at McAuliffe Park in East Hartford, Connecticut – dedicated in 1984:

3. Frank J. McCoy Field at Henry Park in Vernon, Connecticut – dedicated in 2010:

4. Buzzy Levin Field at Pat Kidney Sports Complex in Middletown, Connecticut – dedicated in 2018:

2023 GHTBL Winter Workout D Bat Bloomfield ProBats

Workout #3 on April 20th at 7 PM

On Thursday, April 20, 2023, at 7:00 PM, GHTBL will hold another off-season workout at D-Bat Bloomfield located at 62 Douglas St, Bloomfield, Connecticut.

New players and GHTBL alumni are invited to attend this hitting and pitching session. Cages have been rented and we expect live pitching to take place towards the end of the workout. D-Bat Bloomfield’s Zach Risedorf and Willy Yahn will be in attendance to offer instruction.

  • Each participating player is asked to pay $10 (either cash or Venmo) at D-Bat Bloomfield on the night of the workout.
  • GHTBL’s official bat sponsor, ProBats will also be in attendance to demo and sell wood bats.
  • Please RSVP by messaging the league on one of our social media accounts or by emailing us at Contact@GHTBL.org.
2023 GHTBL Winter Workout Bloomfield Connecticut

Winter Workout #2 on March 23rd at 7 PM

On Thursday, March 23, 2023, at 7:00 PM, GHTBL will hold a Winter Workout at D-Bat Bloomfield (located at 62 Douglas St, Bloomfield, Connecticut). New players and GHTBL alumni are invited to attend this hitting and pitching session. Four cages have been rented and we expect live pitching to take place towards the end of the workout. D-Bat Bloomfield’s Zach Risedorf and Willy Yahn will be in attendance to offer instruction and tips.

  • Each participating player is asked to pay $10 (either cash or Venmo) at D-Bat Bloomfield on the night of the workout.
  • GHTBL’s official bat sponsor, ProBats will also be in attendance to demo and sell wood bats.
  • Please RSVP by messaging the league on one of our social media accounts or by emailing us at Contact@GHTBL.org.
Leo Bravakis Umpire GHTBL

The Passing of Hall of Famer Leo Bravakis Jr.

Leo James Bravakis, Jr., 79, of Windsor Locks, passed away peacefully on Saturday, March 4, 2023. He was born on July 26, 1943, in Middletown, CT, to Doris (Ahern) and Leo J. Bravakis, Sr.

Leo attended Middletown High School (1961), completed undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut (1965), and received his Master of Education from the University of Hartford (1970). Leo earned varsity letters in football, basketball, and baseball in high school. In 1960, he was awarded the Thom McAn football MVP Trophy and as quarterback, led his team to a 7-2-1 record. Leo was also a two-year starter in hoops. Baseball was where Leo excelled.

He was co-captain of the 1961 Middletown High Tigers who were the Connecticut Valley Conference Co-Champions and ranked #1 in the Class M CIAC Tournament with a 19-1 record. Leo recorded 121 strikeouts in 76 innings of work. He received the prestigious Sal Mazzotta Award given annually to the best all-around senior athlete who has demonstrated proficiency in scholarship and citizenship. Leo was inducted into the Middletown Hall of Fame in 2002.

1961 Central Valley Conference All Star Team Connecticut
Central Valley Conference All Star Team, Connecticut, 1961.

Leo pitched four years for the UConn Huskies, tossed a no-hitter as a freshman and was a key pitcher on the 1965 College World Series squad that only gave up 66 hits in 254 innings. During the deciding series versus Holy Cross at Fenway Park, Leo hit a double off the famous Green Monster. At the CWS, Leo pitched in relief and got a hit in UConn’s victory over Lafayette. His senior year, Leo received the “C’ Ring, an award for excellence in athletics, scholarship, citizenship, and leadership. As a proud Husky alum, Leo was a member of the UConn Dugout Club.

1962 UConns Leo Bravakis Pitches No Hitter
UConn’s Leo Bravakis Pitches No-Hitter, 1962.

After college, Leo pitched in the Middlesex County and Hartford Twilight Leagues before an arm injury ended his career. Leo finished with a 27-9 record in the Hartford Twilight League and was inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame in 1997 as pitcher.

After his athletic playing career ended, Leo turned to officiating soccer and umpiring baseball. Leo was considered to be one of the state’s best in both sports. Leo worked 15 state soccer tournament title games – 8 girls and 7 boys finals-and worked 18 state baseball tournament title games. He served on the soccer officials and baseball umpires committee boards. He was President of the soccer association from 1983-1985 and was President of the Connecticut Board of Approved Umpires twice. He served as the Commissioner for the Hartford Chapter of the Connecticut Board of Approved Umpires. Leo received the 1981 Central Connecticut Soccer Officials Association Bernard O’Rourke Distinguished Service Award and also was conferred lifetime membership for his years of dedicated service. Leo was inducted as a charter member into the Connecticut Girls Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003 for officiating.

1964 Leo Bravakis Jr. UConn Baseball
Leo Bravakis Jr. UConn, 1964.

Leo was a math teacher for East Windsor Public Schools from 1965-2001. He coached girls’ basketball and baseball at East Windsor High School. His baseball teams had a record of 89-69 winning league titles twice. He coached his son Sean’s Windsor Locks American Legion baseball team for three summers.

When he retired from coaching, Leo served as the athletic director at East Windsor High School for ten years. During his tenure, Leo was instrumental in bringing about changes that have made girls’ basketball one of the most respected and valued sports in Connecticut.

He served as the President of the East Windsor Education Association and was on the East Windsor Athletic Club Hall of Fame nominating committee. He was a member of the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors Executive Board and a member of the CIAC Girls’ Basketball Committee for five years. In 2000, Leo received Central Connecticut Board No. 6 of Approved Basketball Officials Commissioner’s Award. Leo was inducted into the East Windsor Athletic Club Hall of Fame in 2006.

1965 Carolyn M. MacCarthy Bravakis Wedding Photo
Carolyn (MacCarthy) Bravakis, 1965.

Leo and his wife Carolyn enjoyed visiting various North American cities plus venturing abroad to Prague, Paris, Rome, London (2012 Olympics), Barcelona and taking the Rhine Cruise and Baltic Tour.

Leo, a devoted fan of UConn’s basketball programs, held season tickets for games both in Storrs and Hartford. He enjoyed watching sports on TV. An avid golfer, Leo was a member of Tallwood Country Club in Hebron, CT, for decades and won numerous club championships. He loved his visits with his three grandchildren and enjoyed following their pursuits.

Leo enjoyed raising many a glass of adult beverages with his numerous friends. With Leo you always knew where you stood; he loved a spirited debate about anything. He once proudly stated “I am not politically correct, I am Leo correct.” Leo was a one-of-a-kind character who made an impression on everyone he met.

1975 Bristol American Legion vs. Middletown Legion Leo Bravakis Sr. Umpire
Bristol American Legion vs. Middletown Legion with Umpire Leo Bravakis Jr, 1975.

He leaves behind his high school sweetheart and beloved wife of 57 years, Carolyn McCarthy Bravakis; his son Sean Emmett Bravakis and his wife Rebecca; grandchildren Emmett, Isabelle, and Timothy Bravakis. He is survived by his sister, Alice Hodge and her husband Richard; niece Leigh Hodge Fischer and her husband Sean; nephew James Hodge and his wife Dawn; and Christopher Hodge and his wife Heather; his brother-in-law Dr. Robert E. McCarthy; nieces Katharine, Christine, and Coreen McCarthy. Leo was predeceased by his parents and sister-in-law Sandra McCarthy. Leo’s family would like to extend heartfelt appreciation to the ICU Team at St. Francis Hospital for making his last days comfortable. Special recognition to Doctors Sudhanshu Mulay, Paul B. Murray and Alan Soroka for their extraordinary care, compassion, and kindness to Leo over the year

Leo Bravakis Jr.

A time of visitation for family and friends will be held on Monday, March 13, 2023, from 4-7 p.m. at the Carmon Windsor Funeral Home, 807 Bloomfield Ave., Windsor. His funeral service will be held privately. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Leo’s name to the East Windsor Athletic Club, c/o Ted Szymanski, 166 Rockville Road, Windsorville, CT 06016 and the UConn Baseball Stadium Enhancement Fund, c/o Jim Penders, Head Baseball Coach, 2095 Hillside Road, Unit 1173, Storrs, CT 06269. To leave an online message of condolence for his family, please visit www.carmonfuneralhome.com.

Published by Hartford Courant on Mar. 9, 2023.

Eleven Big Names Inducted to Hall of Fame

On Saturday, November 5, 2022, the GHTBL Hall of Fame Committee organized a night to remember at Indian Hill Country Club in Newington, Connecticut. Eleven new inductees were officially honored and inducted as the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Here’s the list of players (and one manager) who earned the league’s highest honor:

Scott Cormier
Mike Schweighoffer
Jim Snediker
Brian Marshall
Roberto Giansiracusa
Jason Maule
Jeff Johnson
Brett Burnham
Todd Mercier
Kevin Gieras
Thomas Abbruzzese

Congratulations to all inductees! Special thank you GHTBL Hall of Fame Committee, its President Steve Krajewski and Jack Hurley for your diligent efforts.

Nov. 5: Hall of Fame Dinner

On Saturday, November 5, 2022, the GHTBL Hall of Fame will officially honor ten new inductees. Tickets can be purchased in advance.

VENUE: Indian Hill Country Club, 111 Golf Street, Newington, Connecticut

TIME: 5:30 PM Check-in, Dinner at 6:30 PM, Ceremony at 7:00 PM

COST: $50 per person

PURCHASE TICKETS: Make checks payable to “ORIOLE BASEBALL ASSOCIATION” and send to:

Steve Krajewski
61 Thrall Road
Vernon, CT 06066

DEADLINE: Friday, November 1, 2022

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact GHTBL Hall of Fame President, Steve Krajewski at (860) 815-7121 or email krashtrip7@gmail.com.

Here’s the list of GHTBL Hall of Fame Inductees for the Class of 2022:

  1. Scott Cormier
  2. Mike Schweighoffer
  3. Jim Snediker
  4. Brian Marshall
  5. Roberto Giansiracusa
  6. Jason Maule
  7. Jeff Johnson
  8. Brett Burnham
  9. Todd Mercier
  10. Kevin Gieras

See you on November 5th!

Jack Hurley (left) announces 2022 GHTBL Hall of Fame Inductees Brian Marshall, Jim Snediker, Mike Schweighoffer and Scott Cormier at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

Learn more about the GHTBL Hall of Fame by clicking here.

Vernon Orioles Going To Bat For Community

The Vernon Orioles have continued their community involvement this year.

Chris Dehnel, Patch Staff

VERNON, CT — At a recent game, the Vernon Oriole family had Carol Hartmann throw out the ceremonial first pitch to remember and honor her son Brenden Mailloux, an outstanding Rockville baseball player.

In 2010, the Hartmann family lost a beloved family member, Brenden. He was was the son of Carol Hartmann and Len Mailloux, and grandson of Russell Hartmann of the beloved Hartmann’s Supermarket in town. Brenden died unexpectedly in 2010.

The family wanted to do something in Brenden’s memory and felt that contributing to improvements to McCoy Field, known as the Home of the Vernon Orioles, was a fitting choice to honor Brenden and benefit current and future ball players.

Carol Hartmann throws out ceremonial first pitch, McCoy Field, 2022.

Brenden grew up playing baseball from Little League to All-Stars, to JC Courant League, Rockville High School Varsity, and American Legion. He was a skilled player and loved the game. His special talent was his glove at first base. He played many games on McCoy field.

The Family is thrilled that the Vernon Orioles and other teams are benefitting from the improvements made. The outfield was named as the Brenden Mailloux Alley, which is located on the scoreboard.

“The Vernon Orioles Family would like to thank the Hartmann Family for their generous donation. McCoy Field is one of the premier fields in the league,” Orioles officials said [led by Manager Jack Ceppetelli, Kevin Powell and Steve Krajewski].

Brendan Mailloux Alley at McCoy Field, Vernon, CT.

The Vernon Orioles Family remembered and honored a fellow Oriole, Steve Czyz by having his daughter Kat throw the Ceremonial first pitch against Rainbow Graphics. Steve played shortstop for the Orioles from 1993 to 2000. In that time, he played on two championship teams, 1996 and 1999. He was also named to numerous All-Star teams throughout his career.

Steve grew up in Ellington and played for Ellington High School’s baseball team. He then went on to play college ball at Western New England. Steve died in 2015 at age 44. The Orioles donate each year to the Steve Czyz Scholarship Fund that goes to an Ellington High School student.

In April of this year, the Orioles made Kat Czyz, an honorary Vernon Oriole. Kat is a sophomore at Ellington High School, plays softball and has led the Knights to the NCCC Championship. She plays for the CT Bomber Travel Team, coaches an Ellington Little League team and plays Volleyball for Ellington High School.

Honorary Vernon Oriole, Kat Czyz throws out first pitch.

Original article: https://patch.com/connecticut/vernon/vernon-orioles-going-bat-community

Managers Pick 2022 GHTBL All-Star Team

GHTBL is pleased to announce the top Twi-loop players from our 2022 campaign. League managers from every franchise have recently convened to vote on the GHTBL All-Star team. This season, 25 players have been selected. These All-Stars have been invited to participate in an interleague matchup against the Connecticut Twilight League All-Stars on Friday, August 19, 2022, at Muzzy Field in Bristol, Connecticut. At 6:00 PM there will be a Home Run Derby featuring GHTBL and CTL players. Then, around 7:30 PM, the All-Star Game will commence.

Congratulations to the following players on being named 2022 GHTBL All-Stars:

Cardinals
Evan Wilkinson, OF (9)
Colts
Dan Livingston, P (9)
Nick Landell, SS (5)
Nick Flammia, OF (7)
Expos
Justin Marks, P/OF (7)
AJ Hendrickson, P/C/OF (9)
Will Kszywanos, 1B (7)
Graphics
Ryan Callanan, P (5)
Evan Chamberlain, P/3B (9)
Dan Steiner, C (5)
Greeners
AJ Lorenzetti, C/OF (5)
Jets
Bryan Albee, P (9)
Jim Schult, P/OF (9)
Corey Plasky, 2B (7)
Nate Viera, 3B (5)
Jeff Criscuolo, SS (8)
Orioles
Matt Curtis, P (7)
Matt Cleveland, P (9)
Tony Trubia, SS (6)
Jimmy Titus, 1B (9)
Nick Roy, OF (7)
People’s
Willy Yahn, SS (9)
Brendan Lynch, 3B (9)
Phillies
Trevor Moulton, P (6)
Aedin Wadja, 2B (7)
(Number of manager votes in parentheses)

Expos & Jets, Regular Season Co-champions

Now that the 2022 Regular Season has come to a close, the Record-Journal Expos (18-6) and the East Hartford Jets (18-6) have agreed to split the Season Title. Both managers elected to share a co-championship this year. According to GHTBL By-laws this scenario takes place when two teams tie for first place in the standings:

VIII. Postseason Playoff 

C. In the result of a tie for Regular Season champion, a one game playoff will be scheduled to determine the champion. This game may be eliminated if both managers agree to a co-championship. If a co-Championship is elected, then seeding for the playoff will defer to:

  • 1) The Co-Champions head-to-head regular season record.
  • 2) If the head-to-head record also result in a tie seeding will then default to a coin flip conducted by the Executive Committee.

D. Season records determine the remaining seedings. If there is a tie for any seeding, regular season head-to-head record will prevail; if head-to-head record results in a tie a coin flip will then be implemented conducted by the Executive Committee. If there is more than two teams for any seeding position the process then be selected by lot. 

The Expos swept all three games from the Jets this summer, therefore Record-Journal will be the top seed in the upcoming Playoff Tournament. The playoff bracket is published on the homepage of www.GHTBL.org (scroll towards bottom).

As a recap of the Record-Journal Expos at M&T People’s game last night here’s an original article by Ron Buck, Special to the Record-Journal:

R-J Expos drop regular season finale, but still lay claim to Greater Hartford Twilight pennant.

HARTFORD — Even in defeat, the Record-Journal Expos won Thursday night.

Already secure in the knowledge they had wrapped up the No. 1 seed in next week’s Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League playoffs, the Expos dropped their regular-season finale 1-0 to People’s Bank at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

The loss prevented the Expos from winning the regular season outright and ended a six-game winning streak by the Meriden squad. The Expos finished the regular season 18-6.

People’s Bank, which scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the sixth inning, finished the season 14-9.

The Expos’ regular-season record is good enough to be, at the least, co-champions with the East Hartford Jets. The Jets (17-6) were on their way to tying the Expos for the regular-season title. At press time, they were leading the Hartford Colts 7-0 in the fourth inning of Thursday night’s nightcap of the Twilight Stadium Series 4 Sandy Hook Promise

The Expos, however, will earn the playoff’s top seed via a sweep of the Jets during the regular season. Looking to win Meriden’s first GHTBL tournament title since the Meriden Merchants went all the way in 2014, the Expos begin their quest Tuesday night at Palmer Field.

This is the second regular-season championship for player/manager Charlie Hesseltine, who saw his club win the 2019 pennant.

“The 1 seed was more important to us,” said Hesseltine. “I would have been nice to win. Justin (Marks) pitched great. Our bats were (just) hit and miss.” 

“But playing at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, everyone is trying to square one up and hit it a mile. It was a fun game,” added Hesseltine.

The Expos had one regular-season contest remaining — a game with People’s Bank on Tuesday at Ceppa Field was suspended by rain tied 2-2 in the top of the third — but they voted after Thursday’s game to forfeit the makeup. The decision was based on both teams’ desire to save their pitching for the playoffs.

“Our goal from the beginning of the year was to win the (postseason) championship,” said Hesseltine. “Regular-season standings never really matter because you have to beat everyone in the playoffs, but we played well all season.”

“We have four solid arms,” he added. “So as long as we hit, we have four pitchers for four games (in the playoffs).”

Marks, a tall lefty from Woodland High School, has shown why the Expos have the arms to win it all this season. He entered the game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park at a perfect 4-0 on the season with a 1.54 ERA, and he threw four more scoreless innings Thursday.

Marks hit the mid-to-high 80s in striking out seven.

“Our mindset is we got our loss out of the way (tonight) and we are ready for the playoffs” said Marks, who was making his seventh start of the season. “Tonight gives us confidence that we can beat anyone.”

Hesseltine picked up where Marks left off and struck out the side in the fifth inning.

People’s Bank scored, however, in the sixth after Hesseltine pitch brushed the jersey of Willy Yahm, who stole second and scored on a single by Brandon Lynch.

The Expos had their chances to score and, even in their final at-bat in the seventh, put a runner at second base with two outs via a ground-rule double by A.J. Hendrickson.

But Jason Sullivan struck out to end the game.

The Expos managed just four hits against four People’s Bank pitchers. And when they did come up with a few early hits, aggressiveness on the base paths were costly. A pair of Expos were thrown out at the plate in the third inning. 

Johnny Walter was out attempting to score from first base on Nhasean Murphy’s double into the left-field corner. Murphy was later called out at the plate on a close play trying to score after Sebby Grignano grounded out to shortstop.

The Expos also threatened in the second. Hendrickson singled sharply to left to start the inning. Sullivan then lined out to left field ahead of Shawn Remillard, who was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double. 

Hendrickson moved to third base on Remillard’s ball into the right-center gap, but Will Kszywanos grounded out to third base to end the inning.

People’s Bank had its own struggles at the plate, managing just three hits off Marks and Hesseltine. The Expos’ hurlers allowed just two runners to reach second base before People’s broke through in the sixth inning.

This is the second regular-season title for the Expos in four years. The Expos, however, lost in the 2019 playoffs as the top seed. The Vernon Orioles won it all that year, while the Jets have won the past two championships.

“This year is a different group of guys,” said Kszywanos, who played for the 2019 Expos. “We are younger, more resilient and have a lot more chemistry.

“We have been together for so long, since Legion days,” added the first baseman. “And some of the younger guys are really stepping up at the plate. But pitching is going to win it, and Justin has been lights out. If we can string five or six hits together, we’ll be fine.”

The Jets and Vernon Orioles had been chasing the Expos all season. The O’s lost Wednesday night to the Wallingford Cardinals and finished 17-7. With a win later Thursday night, the Jets (17-6) were poised to earned the No. 2 seed.

Visit Record-Journal.com for more stories on the Expos from this season.

Stadium Series 4 Sandy Hook Promise

On Thursday, August 4, 2022, Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League will fulfill its annual mission as a nonprofit organization. Players, coaches, families and fans are invited to the Twilight Stadium Series 4 Sandy Hook Promise – a doubleheader marking GHTBL’s sixth consecutive year of charity games at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. This special event is presented by Eversource Energy, which has supported the cause with a community grant and has been named GHTBL’s Presenting Sponsor.

Dunkin Donuts Park, Hartford, Connecticut

On the night of August 4, the Main Gate (near the Ticket Office) will be open at 5:30 PM to spectators. The first game will begin at 6:00 PM between the Meriden-based, Record-Journal Expos and the Wethersfield-based, M&T People’s franchise. At 8:00 PM the 2020 and 2021 Playoff Champions, East Hartford Jets will face the Hartford Colts.

  • Admission: $10 for adults. Free for kids 14 years old and under.
  • All proceeds: donated to Sandy Hook Promise.
  • Concessions: available on the first base side of the stadium, brought to you by facility hosts, the Hartford Yard Goats.
  • Buy tickets or donate online at www.givebutter.com/twi.
  • Parking: available in LAZ Parking lots for $5. (Public/metered parking within walking distance.)
  • Raffles: 50-50 Raffle hosted by GHTBL for $5.00 & Bat Raffle hosted by Probats (free with admission ticket)

More about Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), a charitable organization in Newtown, Connecticut:

Since the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly ten years ago, SHP has led a bipartisan movement to protect America’s children from gun violence. Most recently, the organization has engaged in educational workshops at schools across the United States. Over 23,000 “Know the Signs” programs have taught youth and adults how to prevent school violence. Students and educators learn how to identify at-risk behaviors and how to intervene to get help. According to SHP, “These early-prevention measures empower everyone to help keep schools and communities safe.”

Help us take action for the well-being of children and Sandy Hook Promise by attending the Twilight Stadium Series 4 Sandy Hook Promise. Or you can make a donation online:

  • DONATE or BUY TICKETS ONLINE in lieu of paying admission in person.
  • You will receive an email confirmation but there’s no need to print your tickets, as donors will be on a “Donor List” and admitted into the stadium at no additional charge.
  • ALL DONATIONS & TICKET PROCEEDS GO TO SANDY HOOK PROMISE.

*Both Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League and Sandy Hook Promise are registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. W-9 forms are available at your request. Send any questions or correspondance to Contact@GHTBL.org.

Cohen to Start Career at M&T Bank

In a bit of good news off the field, Andrew Cohen, pitcher for M&T People’s, has recently been hired by his team sponsor, M&T Bank. The career opportunity came about this past Spring and he will report to work in Wilmington, Delaware starting next week. Between then and now, Andrew has earned two wins and a save for Tom Abbruzzese’s “Bankers” franchise. Cohen graduated this past May from Bowdoin College. He grew up in Glastonbury and is a graduate of Loomis Chaffee. The GHTBL wishes Andrew all of the best in his professional pursuits!

The Twilight League would like to also express our gratitude to M&T Bank for sticking with the GHTBL as a team sponsor. The Buffalo, New York-based M&T Bank is currently acquiring the Bridgeport-based People’s United Bank in a high-profile merger. Here’s to a hundred years!

Rainbow Repels M&T People’s, 5-2

By Joshua Macala
raised || by || cassettes

On July 10, 2022, the M&T People’s at Rainbow Graphics game started at 5 PM. It ended around 6:30 PM. Both teams started this quick contest with the same record and were fighting for fourth place. While the Jets, Expos and Orioles hold the top three spots, this was a battle for the middle of the standings.

These are the next two best teams in the GHTBL in my opinion. Both teams can hit the ball and can categorized as be wildcard teams. You can’t always predict if the Graphics or People’s will win, but they usually grind out close games. This game was evenly matched too.

M&T People’s struck first. In the first inning, with two outs, Brendan Lynch would hit a home run out towards center field. People’s went up 1-0 early on but in the bottom of the second inning Bryan Rodriguez came home after an RBI single and then Austin Martin drove in another run with runners on second and third to give the Graphics a 2-1 lead. 

In the top of the fourth, the tying run scored for People’s when a bloop over second base. A number of Graphics players were caught watching it. Then the Graphics’ right fielder made a spectacular diving catch and it seemed to provide a boost of energy.

Graphics put up two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. After a HBP, a run was scored via a double and there was a bad throw to home. Had that throw been on target it might have very well gotten the runner and left the game tied. A sac fly by Austin Martin brought in the second run of the inning and the Graphics led comfortably, 4-2.  

I wasn’t the only one confused in the bottom of the fifth inning when Travis Salois singled in the fifth and final Graphics run of the game. People’s right fielder appeared to have caught the ball. There seemed to be some confusion by coaches and players alike, as it looked to have been caught. However the umpires said the ball was trapped, ruled the hit and the run scored. 

The good news coming out of this game was that the Graphics seem to have found another consistent starting pitcher in Ryan Skaff, who had a great game. The rarely seen bat of Travis Salois also proved to be effective and the offense shined when it needed to. Rainbow Graphics could be putting together a solid run towards the postseason and they might take some people by surprise.

Rainbow doesn’t play until Thursday when they go to Vernon. If the Graphics manage to get a win against the Orioles, it could push into third place. The Graphics will also meet the Colts on Friday at Northwest Park at 7 PM.

For People’s, Brendan Lynch has been a consistent bat but their club has had their ups and downs offensively. People’s has days when they can’t be stopped but on other days, they might fail to produce at the plate. Their pitching staff can also be spotty at times but they have pulled together some good performances lately.

M&T People’s are going to Ceppa Field in Meriden on Tuesday, where they last defeated the Record-Journal Expos. People’s then also returns home on Thursday night to welcome the Phillies, who have had a rough but resilient season.

With so much happening this week in the GHTBL, the standings could see some major changes by the end of it. The Expos could move into first, the Orioles could move down to fourth and the Colts could climb up as People’s sink down. Many factors make this week a big one for the league and it’s one week closer to the Playoff Tournament in early August.

Orioles, Jets & Expos Feud for 1st Place

Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is nearly halfway through the 2022 Regular Season and once again, the Vernon Orioles are up to their usual habits; winning ball games. Yet the two-time reigning Playoff Champions, the East Hartford Jets, are currently tied with the Orioles for first place. The Jets also have the upperhand in terms of runs scored and runs allowed.

Then there’s the Record-Journal Expos, who are only a game behind from a three-way tie atop the standings. They have two wins on the year against the Jets in games decided by one-run margins. Expos also have a slightly easier schedule in the second half of the 2022 season.

Here are the remaining games between these three clubs:

See the full schedule at www.GHTBL.org/Schedule.

Cardinals Fly by People’s, 11-6

By Joshua Macala
raised || by || cassettes

One of the things I knew going into this game was that both teams were winless on the year up to this point. Wallingford Cardinals and M&T People’s are off to rough starts. What I hadn’t considered going into this game was that this would be my third time seeing the Wallingford Cardinals play and that’s as many times as I’ve seen the Record-Journal Expos play. Perhaps this season will brew a rivalry between cross town teams, as Ceppa Field and Pat Wall Field aren’t too far apart.

The Cardinals came out hot and started this game like they were going to make a statement about it. There have been certain last place teams in the league over the years who ended up disbanding like Malloves Jewelers – so in many ways it felt like the Cardinals wanted to get on a winning track. A double and two singles put together two runs for the Cardinals in the first inning. Then a walk and another double brought home two more runs after yet another double and a run scored to give the Cardinals a 5-0 lead right away. This would be the theme of the game, though it would only happen over two innings when the Cardinals offense exploded. 

People’s pushed a run across in the bottom of the third, making it a 5-1 game. They found life in their offense with a single and a stolen base, but they couldn’t figure out the pitching of Wallingford’s Alex Koletar. Meanwhile, People’s had some pitching problems. The staff would give up a hit, walk someone, then a passed ball would move the runners over, then another walk or single and ultimately the runs would home. It was small ball in that way – advancing the runners – but the pitching helped Wallingford by missing the mark. People’s changed their pitcher and would go on a good defensive stretch. They kept the Cardinals from scoring up until the fifth inning.  

The top of the fifth started with a home run deep to left field by Evan Wilkinson. That started a big inning for the Cardinals. A walk and a single brought about another pitching change, but then a walk loaded the bases. A strikeout got the first out of the inning but then a run scored on a wild pitch. Another walk loaded up the bases and a single scored two runs as People’s catcher went down looking hurt. A quick strikeout for two outs in the inning but then a run scored on a wild pitch. And after that, a run scored on another wild pitch. 

A final pitching change led to back-to-back walks but a third strikeout finally ended the fifth inning. People’s got out of it with the Cardinals putting up six runs. It was now 11-1 and People’s would have a long path to stage a comeback. People’s had a runner on second base in the bottom of the fifth but a strikeout and double play put that inning to an end. They would keep the Cardinals from scoring for the rest of the game but they weren’t done on offense yet. People’s had some catching up to do and they almost did it.

In the bottom of the sixth inning a double brought in a run and then a three run homer by Isaiah Rivera gave People’s some hope, as they were now down 11-5. Just like that, things can change and even when you’re up five runs or even ten runs you never quite know what will happen. People’s had that chance to walk it off. In the bottom of the seventh a run scored for People’s on a wild pitch with two outs but then a strikeout ended the game at 11-6.

This game took M&T People’s to 0-3 as they struggle to find a win this season. But it took the Cardinals to 1-4, which might not seem great but it’s a win that could push them to keep winning. Though they started their season 0-4, the Cardinals also took those losses to the Expos, Orioles, Colts and Graphics. While the Cardinals are meeting the Expos again on Wednesday night at Pat Wall Field, perhaps a true test for the Cardinals will come next Tuesday when they meet the Phillies.

Expos Clip Jets, 4-3

By Joshua Macala
raised || by || cassettes

Baseball is such a wild game. After watching a GHTBL game on Wednesday in the rain, then being rained out on Thursdaynwith the sun shining, I thought for sure this would be the game without rain. A big, dark cloud came over Ceppa Field but it didn’t threaten any rain at first. Part way through the game, that same cloud opened up and the rain went from a drizzle to near downpour. Yes, for the second time in week I was caught in the rain watching a baseball game.

The Record-Journal Expos and East Hartford Jets both came into this game undefeated. The Jets had played one more game than the Expos, so the Jets were 3-0 while the Expos were 2-0. What’s notable about their records? Well, had the game not been postponed due to weather the night before, the Expos may have beaten the Bristol Greeners, so both teams could have gone into this game at 3-0. But this rain really has been something else this week and it amazes me that the baseball continues during the deluge.

In the top of the first inning, Jets shortstop Jeff Criscuolo made it to third base but after two strikeouts from Expos ace pitcher Justin Marks the inning would come to an end without any runs. The bottom of the first inning was a different story entirely for the Expos. Kyle Hartenstein was walked onto first base. Jason Sullivan hit a huge double to put the runners onto second and third. And then AJ Hendrickson came up to the plate and smashed a three run homerun.

Knowing where that ball went over the fence near left field, I was looking for it near the road but couldn’t find it. Someone was sitting on the road in their car and there was another random person just walking by. I assumed at that point perhaps someone had just been like “Oh! A baseball!” and picked it up. But I followed what I felt like was the flight path and sure enough I found the home run ball that Hendrickson smashed. It was across the street and in the yard of the house there.

The rest of this game was a stalemate. Jets pitcher Cole Lalli seemed to have two modes: either throwing all strikes and thus a strikeout occurred or throwing all balls and thus, a walk. It was either hard down the middle or it was bouncing in front of the plate. Both teams played a tight defense leading up until the final portion of the game. The top of the third saw two great catches by Will Kszywanos and Justin Marks, while runners got on base for both teams but were unable to score. Marks stuck out the side in the fourth inning – and into the fifth, two more strikeouts probably made him the player of this game.

The Expos scored another run in the bottom of the fifth making it 4-0 (they ended up needing that insurance run). The Jets then plated a runner in the top of the sixth as Charlie Hesseltine would come in to pitch. As the game headed into the bottom of the sixth, the rain picked up. The rain started off where you just felt some droplets and it wasn’t too big of a deal, but it quickly grew consistent. If you were in it for a minute or so you’d be soaked. Nearly everyone in the stands took cover where they could and somehow the game persisted. I’m always worried about the ball being able to be gripped in the rain, but the Expos and Jets played on.

At one point, one of the Jets lost control and their bat went flying because it was wet. This felt like one of those signs that playing in the rain was a tad dangerous but no one was stopping the game. The umpires were getting as soaked as the players! In the bottom of the sixth it felt as if the inning was cut short and I felt like the game was either going into a rain delay or being called early but apparently there were three outs. The Jets put up a run in the top of the sixth and had the momentum they to have a chance at winning.

In the last inning, with the score at 4-1 in favor of the Expos, Charlie Hesseltine had a hard time controlling his fastball. At one point, the ball even got away from catcher AJ Hendrickson. It was a bit of a mess and back-to-back doubles scored two more runs, putting the game at 4-3 and the Expos still leading. The last out came as a strikeout and it sealed the fate for the Jets, who were quite amused in the dugout with the way this game was going. While the rain was also making it darker and hard to see, it was making it just so difficult to control the ball and I think that was really the story of the end of the game here.

Now let’s be realistic. The Expos were at home. If the Jets managed to either tie this game or go ahead, then the Expos would still have their final at bats and the Jets would have been the one’s pitching in the rain. It seemed like it was a lot easier to hit the ball while the rain was coming down than it was to control a fastball. The rain actually started to let up a little bit before the game ended, but it certainly did feel like a factor in the end of this game. A 3-0 game turned into a 4-3 final after the rain and it made for an exciting ending.

With the Orioles taking a 1-0 loss to the Jets, this game was actually a battle between the last two undefeated teams in the GHTBL. By winning this game, the Expos now are solely in first place and the only team yet to face defeat. 

In the week ahead they’re looking at two opponents they’ve already beaten, the Wallingford Cardinals, in Wallingford on Wednesday night and the South Windsor Phillies will come back to Ceppa Field on Friday, June 10th. However, before all of that the Rainbow Graphics come to Ceppa Field for the next Expos game on June 7th, which could be interesting because the Graphics have a history of being a tough opponent for the Expos. Rainbow Graphics are also 3-1 on the year so it should be a good game to watch.

Colts Shuffle Cards, 7-3

By Joshua Macala
raised || by || cassettes

What makes the Hartford Colts vs. Wallingford Cardinals such an intriguing matchup is that both of these teams are fairly new to the league and both feature former Ulbrich Steel players. The Wallingford Cardinals (brand new for this season) went into this game 0-2 with losses to the Expos on their Opening Day and then the Orioles after that in the Cardinals’ home opener. The Expos and Orioles are generally considered to be amongst the top teams though, so having those losses isn’t really a cause for alarm.

The Hartford Colts are a somewhat new team, and they went into this game 1-1, with a huge victory over the Greeners and a loss to the Champion Jets.  While the Cardinals, led by Manager Jeff DeMaio, were looking for that first win, the Colts were looking to stay above .500. And rightfully so, both teams toughed it out, neither wanting to be the losing side. Sometimes you go into a game where one team is favored over another, but this felt like a game either team could win, and it stayed that way until the last inning.

Both the top and bottom half of the first inning went 1-2-3. The second inning came and the Colts got on top. And it would stay that way. A series of singles drove in two runs, the second run not even being contested at the plate when there was a chance that the Cardinals could’ve had a play. That very well might have been the key moment of the game, where the Colts went up 2-0 and stayed ahead of the Cardinals until the very end. The Cardinals scored a run of their own to answer back in the bottom of the second and make it 2-1, but then a runner was caught stealing with only one out, which makes you wonder why they’re taking such chances in a close game.  

In the top of the third inning with runners on first and third, a run scored for the Colts on a balk. A gapped double in the bottom of the third scored another run for the Cardinals, keeping the game close at 3-2. By the third inning, the rain had come in. It started off just a little bit where I could see some droplets, but eventually, it opened up for an inning or two where it was coming down steadily. It wasn’t that heavy, as other fans went under umbrellas or took cover somewhere, but I stayed in it, and so did the players and umpires. It’s not quite warm enough yet into summer where the rain felt refreshing, but it also isn’t cold enough to where I had to hide from it. I was most concerned about the handling of the ball.

The fourth inning went by without any runs scored but then in the top of the 5th the Colts went up 4-2 as a runner was able to score on a wild pitch. This game was a lot about putting the ball into play, getting those hits and moving the runners to score.  A few errors also helped, but this game remained close throughout, and up until the end, it was either team’s game to win. In the bottom of the fifth, the Colts escaped trouble with a double play followed by a pop-up to first. In the bottom of the sixth, the Cards would double then a single would bring in a run, leaving it 4-3 with one inning left to play. There was a solid chance here that if the Colts didn’t add some insurance runs the Cardinals could be motivated to walk it off.  

This game started in somewhat overcast weather and even though it rained a bit and then the rain stopped, this was one of those games where you had to watch until the end to see who won. In the top of the seventh inning, the Colts got runners on first and second, but they eventually did a double steal to advance. This wouldn’t really matter as the Cardinals changed pitchers and then a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases. 

A huge single past first base scored two runs for the Colts. It was what they needed to win this game. A pitch got by Cardinals’ catcher Adam Leone for a third and final run to score, making this game 7-3. The fact that the Cardinals put up three runs all game seemed to infer that they wouldn’t be able to put up three or more in one inning and that was all they had left. A huge double play and then a slow-rolling groundout to first ended the game and secured the Colts’ win.

There are several factors to consider why this game went the way that it did. First off, if the Colts did not put up those three runs in the top of the seventh and this was a different team, the Cardinals could have easily tied it or even walked it off and got the win. It really felt like the pitching by Alex Koletar for the Cardinals kept this game within reach for them the entire time. And yet the complete game pitched by Matt Goldman was what also helped the Colts get the win here. A pitching effor like that is often needed to win games. Both teams had it going on this night, but the Colts took advantage of more breaks. Perhaps if Goldman wasn’t pitching, the Cardinals would’ve had a win, but that’s hypothetical

Coming out of this game, the Hartford Colts improve to 2-1 and have People’s and the Orioles on deck to face. This will be an interesting next few games for the Colts because if they can defeat the Orioles and hand them their first loss, they’ll be right up there in the top of the league. At the same time, the Cardinals are up against People’s, the Graphics and the Expos again. It might be a tough week coming for them, as they have their work cut out for them, but one of these games might be their chance to get their first win. People’s are the interesting team coming out of this game because thus far they have only played once and it was a loss so what fate awaits them against both Colts and Cardinals will be fun to see.  

St. Cyril’s Baseball Club, The Semi-Pro Polish-Americans From Hartford

During the “Roaring Twenties” immigrant communities often integrated themselves into American culture by forming baseball clubs. Members of Hartford’s Polish-American community organized St. Cyril’s Baseball Club in 1925 on behalf of Saints Cyril and Methodius Parish, a Catholic church established in Hartford in 1902. The original nine was managed by Jack J. Zekas and assisted by Stanley “Spike” Spodobalski. Catcher Francis “Frankie” Kapinos captained the team from behind the plate.

St. Cyril’s organizes first baseball club, 1925.

St. Cyril’s joined its first amateur league in 1926, the Hartford Amateur Baseball League. It was a precursor to the Hartford Twilight League and sponsored by the Hartford Courant. St. Cyril’s vied for the “Courant Cup” but landed fourth in the standings. Player-manager John Strycharz steered the team which included Bob Young, a pitcher from University of Wisconsin and Ray Swartz of Notre Dame University. The following year, St. Cyril’s scheduled matchups with “fast semi-pro teams”¹ throughout Connecticut.

1926 St. Cyril’s Baseball Club
Hartford Courant excerpt, June 7, 1927.

After a five year hiatus caused by the Great Depression, St. Cyril’s returned to the field in 1933. Nicknamed the Saints, they earned a reputation as Hartford’s best Catholic club. Nearly every player was of Polish descent. Edward Kostek served as the team’s new manager. Jack Repass, an infielder, cut his teeth with St. Cyril’s in 1938, before becoming Secretary of the Twilight League and Founder of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball Hall of Fame.

1938 St. Cyril’s Baseball Club

St. Cyril’s won its first championship in 1939 as part of the Central Connecticut League. Then they secured the Connecticut District Semi-Pro Title of 1940. Pitching aces, Casimir “Cos” Wilkos and Yosh Kinel headlined the roster. Also on staff was Walter “Monk” Dubiel, a 22 year old rookie who later became one of Hartford’s all-time hurlers following a career with the Yankees and Cubs. After their days with St. Cyril’s, all three pitchers (Wilkos, Kinel, and Dubiel) were inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame.

Casimir “Cos” Wilkos, St. Cyril’s, 1939.
Walter “Monk” Dubiel, 1940.

In the wake of World War II, St. Cyril’s rejoined the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. Nearly every Twi-loop game was held at Municipal Stadium or on one of a dozen skin diamonds at Colt Park. Standout players for manager Kostek during the 1940’s were Pete Sevetz and Charlie Puziak. Some of the men played ball to forget the horrors they saw while at war. Others played for the love of the game and in between work hours life, not unlike amatuer players of today.

1947 St. Cyril’s Baseball Club
L to R: Twilight Leaguers, Tom Deneen of St. Cyril’s, Dick Foley of Pratt Whitney Aircraft and Bill George of Yellow Cab at Colt Park, Hartford, 1947.

Manager Kostek led St. Cyril’s on a winning crusade during the 1950’s. Many professional players suited up for the run, such as Charlie Wrinn, Don Deveau and Ed Samolyk. They conquered multiple titles starting with a sweep of the 1951 Hartford Twilight League Season Title and Playoff Championship. Five years later, the club nabbed the 1956 Season Title and Playoff Championship. In 1957, they captured the State Semi-Pro Title and the Eastern Regional Semi-Pro Title.

1951 St. Cyril’s Baseball Club
Charlie Wrinn, Pitcher, St. Cyril’s, 1951.
Hartford Courant excerpt, September 8, 1951.
1953 St. Cyril’s Baseball Club

In 1958, the Polish National Home hosted a testimonial dinner in honor of Ed Kostek and his St. Cyril’s Baseball Club. Former Business Manager of the Hartford Chiefs, Charles Blossfield gave remarks commending Kostek for his coaching achievements. Also in attendance were Brooklyn Dodgers scout John “Whitney” Piurek of West Haven and Kostek’s former player and longtime friend, Monk Dubiel.

L to R: Whitey Piurek, Ed Kostek and Monk Dubiel at the Polish National Home, Hartford, 1958.
1959 St. Cyril’s Baseball Club

St. Cyril’s last pennant-winning season came in 1960. The club finished in first in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League with a 17-4 win-loss record. Outfielder and GHTBL Hall of Famer, Robert Neubauer was the team’s star player (Neubauer later became a celebrated coach at Sheehan High School in Wallingford, CT). St. Cyril’s, finally played its final season in 1962 and the Catholic baseball dynasty was finally retired after 35 years of play.

St. Cyril’s Manager, Ed Kostek (middle) accepts Hartford Twilight Season Title trophy from Lou Morotto and Jim Nesta, 1960.
Valco Machine beats St. Cyril’s in Playoff Championship 1960.

Sources

  1. Hartford Courant database on Newspapers.com
  2. 1929 to 1979 GHTBL 50th Anniversary Program

2022 Regular Season Preview

Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League returns for the 93rd year!

This summer, GHTBL will utilize some of Connecticut’s top ballparks, including Muzzy Field, Palmer Field, Trinity College and Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Players from as far as Boston, Massachusetts, to Stamford, Connecticut, will compete in the league. A 24-game Regular Season will open at 3 PM, Sunday, May 22, 2022. The Rainbow Graphics are to host Jack Ceppetelli’s Vernon Orioles at Mount Nebo Park in Manchester, CT.

Ceppetelli has managed the Orioles since 2001. Before then Jack was a pitcher with the O’s for two decades. Kevin Powell, another Oriole of the 1980’s, will serve his second year as bench coach. Powell recently retired from Travelers Insurance after a 38 year career. Mainstay Orioles like the Trubia brothers and the Halpin brothers are expected back for another season. Former minor leaguer Jimmy Titus has also declared for Vernon.

Vernon Orioles, 2021.

Rainbow Graphics has their own share of experience. Along with player-manager Tyler Repoli, fixtures like Evan Chamberlain, Travis Salois and Eric Anderson will suit up for the Graphics. Other than the season opener, Rainbow home games will be hosted at Northwest Park in Manchester. Many thanks to Fred Kask and the Rainbow Graphics team for sponsoring GHTBL’s longest-running franchise.

Meanwhile, Manager Taylor Kosakowski and the East Hartford Jets are seeking a three-peat. Another Playoff Championship run will require solid performances from Kosakowski’s fleet of everyday position players. They include Jeff Criscuolo, Jim Schult, Nate Viera and Corey Plasky, who’ve been consistent on both sides of the ball for East Hartford. Bryan Albee of Eastern Connecticut State University is also expected to return to the mound.

Nearby in South Windsor, the Phillies and Manager Ron Pizzanello are preparing for the summer. The Phillies also have a solid core of players who have been with South Windsor since 2018. They are Brody Labbe, Pat McMahon, Aedin Wadja and Jake Petrozza. A few additions to the team are Wendell Anderson, the 2002 GHTBL MVP and AJ Pietrafesa of Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

As for Tom Abbruzzese’s Wethersfield-based franchise, the team has been renamed M&T People’s (formerly People’s United Bank). First-year players will include Jordan Valentino of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, Nick Tuozzola, a graduate of SUNY Purchase and at least four players from Elms College. The most veteran players on People’s are Brendan Lynch and Eric Malinowski.

Eric Malinowski, People’s, 2019.

Recently, President Holowaty has welcomed Ryan Ruggiero as the newest member of the Executive Committee. Ryan joins the league as the official Statistician. He’ll also assist with operations for the Hartford Colts franchise. The Colts expect to field many players currently in college including Kyle Darby of Westfield State University, Kiernan Caffrey of American International College, Sean Jefferson of Albertus Magnus College and AJ Desarro of New England College.

The most newcomers of 2022 will likely appear for the Wallingford Cardinals, who have become sponsors in place of Ulbrich Steel. General Manager Chris Bishop and Manager Jeff DeMaio will welcome numerous collegiate players like Evan Wilkinson of Post University and Zach Pincince of University of New Haven. Returners such as Sam DeMaio, Alex Koletar and Brendan O’Connell will continue to be key contributors for Wallingford.

The league’s westernmost franchise, the Bristol Greeners, will play eight games at Muzzy Field this year. Trevor Mays takes the reins as a first-time player-manager. Greeners catcher, AJ Lorenzetti, will look to repeat his 2021 All-Star performance.

Muzzy Field, Bristol, Connecticut.

Last but not least, the Record-Journal Expos will be directed by player-manager, Charlie Hesseltine, who’s been a part of the twi-loop since 2005. Other veteran players like AJ Hendrickson, Jonathan Walter and Sebby Grignano will perform under the lights at Ceppa Field. Current college athletes for the Meriden-based franchise are Jason Sullivan of Albertus Magnus, Carson Coon of Manhattan College and Kameron Hartenstein of SUNY Cortland.

On August 4, 2022, the league will hold our 6th annual charity series at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Hosted by the Hartford Yard Goats, the GHTBL will fundraise for a charitable cause by selling $10 tickets at the Main Gate. Tickets are valid for both games of the doubleheader at 6 PM and 8 PM. Concessions will be open. More details to come!

The 2022 Playoff Tournament will follow a few days after the Regular Season. Our double-elimination championship will transpire at Palmer Field in Middletown and at McKenna Field in East Hartford. Five appearances are required to qualify a player for the postseason.

Note to new players seeking a team in the GHTBL: Fill out a Player Application. Amateurs with collegiate-caliber abilities are most likely to be contacted by GHTBL managers who immediately receive these applications.

Opening Day: May 22

Coming soon to a ballpark near you, the GHTBL will begin its 93rd year of play. This season’s Opening Day will be held at Mount Nebo Park in Manchester, Connecticut, at 5 PM, Sunday, May 22, 2022. Manager Jack Ceppetelli and the Vernon Orioles will face Manager Tyler Repoli and the Rainbow Graphics. Last season, these teams split their head-to-head matchup with one win each.

This season, the GHTBL will go back to its traditional format. Each franchise will play three games against every other franchise. The 24-game schedule will be the most Regular Season games planned by the league since 2019. Things are finally back to normal for the time being.

However, since there are 9 clubs competing this year, the GHTBL Playoff Tournament will include a “play-in” game of the 8th and 9th place finishers. An 8-team double-elimination tournament will follow the “play-in” game.

As for the players; 225+ athletes are expected to suit up this summer. Plenty of returners and newcomers will fill a variety of roles throughout the league. From everyday position players, to relief pitchers and part-timers, local amateurs will travel from as far as Groton, Connecticut, and Longmeadow, Massachusetts, to contend for a championship.

A vast majority of GHTBL players are also current or former college players. A handful are ex-professionals. A few are high school prospects. They join the twi-loop for various reasons: to develop into a better player, for the love of the game, camaraderie with teammates. Whatever the reason, the GHTBL is grateful to remain one of most talent laden summer leagues in Connecticut.

GHTBL provides a pure, throwback style of the game while representing a highly competitive class of baseball. Wood bats and MLB Rules are enforced in a 7-inning format. To learn more about playing in the GHTBL, go to www.GHTBL.org/join.

GHTBL to Play 24-Game Regular Season in 2022

A 24-game Regular Season schedule is expected by GHTBL Executive Committee members and leagues mangers in 2022. Next season will get underway in mid-May followed by a double-elimination tournament that usually wraps up by mid-August.

In the meantime, GHTBL franchises will be recruiting players from colleges, high schools, AAU and Legion programs and from local communities. You do not have to live in Greater Hartford to play in the league. No age requirements. The GHTBL is an amateur nonprofit organization. Players do not get paid.

You can fill out a player application by clicking here.

All the best wishes and have a great holiday season,

GHTBL Executive Committee

Bill Holowaty, President
Andy Baylock, Vice President
Marc Levin, Treasurer
Wes Ulbrich, Secretary

Jack Rich, Most Valuable Player of 2021

Back in September of this year, outfielder/relief pitcher, Jack Rich of the Record-Journal Expos was unanimously voted Most Valuable Player of the Regular Season by league managers. The Expos were 10-8 on the season and 3-2 in the playoff tournament. Jack batted an impressive .475 while appearing in all 18 games with the Meriden-based franchise. In 59 at bats, he had 28 hits, 9 runs, a home run, 22 RBI and a league-leading 9 doubles. He also pitched 9 innings in relief. Jack has been a mainstay for the Expos since 2019.

Jack Rich, OF/P, Record-Journal Expos, 2020.
Jack Rich, OF/P, Record-Journal Expos, 2019.
Jack Rich, OF/P, Record-Journal Expos, 2020.
Jack Rich, OF/P, Record-Journal Expos, 2019.
Jack Rich featured in Record-Journal, 2021.

Jack Rich grew up in South Meriden, Connecticut, playing baseball and basketball. He’s a graduate of Wilcox Technical High School and now attends Eastern Connecticut State University. As a key part of the Warriors baseball team, Jack has compiled a .315 batting average with 4 home runs, 49 RBI and a .399 on base percentage thus far during his college career. He will begin his senior year this coming spring, seeking a Little East Conference title and a Division-III College World Series.

Jack Rich makes the All-Star team, 1997.

2021 GHTBL Award Winners

The following 2021 Regular Season and Playoff Tournament awards were either achieved and/or voted on by league managers:

Frank McCoy Award, Most Valuable Player – Jack Rich, OF, Record-Journal Expos

Mike Liappes Award, Most Valuable Pitcher – Matt Curtis, P, Vernon Orioles

Hal Lewis Award, Most Versatile Player – Evan Chamberlain, P/3B, Rainbow Graphics &

AJ Hendrickson, P/C, Record-Journal Expos

Gene Johnson Award, Regular Season Batting Champion – Jack Rich, OF, Record-Journal Expos

James Gallagher Award, Rookie of the Year – Matt Curtis, P, Vernon Orioles

Jack Repass Award, Golden Glove – Corey Plasky, IF, East Hartford Jets

Bill Chapulis Award, Home Run Title – Mike Munson, OF, Malloves Jewelers

Mark and Jane Foss Award, RBI Leader – Jack Rich, OF, Record-Journal Expos

Ralph Giansanti Sr. Award, Stolen Base Title – Christian Boudreau, IF, Hartford Colts

Rev. Thomas Campion Award, Outstanding Playoff Hitter – Chris Bogan, 1B, East Hartford Jets

Mike Abbruzzese Award, Outstanding Playoff Pitcher – Bryan Albee, P, East Hartford Jets

Jake Banks Trophy, Regular Season Champion – Jack Ceppetelli, Manager, Vernon Orioles

Jack Rose Trophy, Playoff Champion – Taylor Kosakowski, Manager, East Hartford Jets

Baseball Bloodlines: The Morhardt’s

The Morhardt’s have been a staple of Connecticut baseball for more than sixty years. Professional baseball has become a genetic trend for the Morhardt’s. Three generations have ascended from the amateur ranks to the professional level. The patriarch of the Winsted-based family, Moe, is the father of Darryl, Greg, and Kyle and grandfather of current GHTBL player, Justin Morhardt. From the Twilight League to the big leagues, men of the Morhardt family have significant baseball credentials.

L to R: Moe, Justin, Greg and Darryl Morhardt, 2012.
L to R: Moe, Justin, Greg and Darryl Morhardt, 2012.

Meredith Moe” Morhardt

Meredith “Moe” Goodwin Morhardt was born on January 16, 1937, in Manchester, Connecticut. He excelled in three sports at Manchester High School: baseball, basketball and soccer. On the diamond, he was a five-tool player who hit and threw lefty. Moe Morhardt first attracted the attention of major league scouts in high school, where he was a teammate of GHTBL legend, Gene Johnson. As a center fielder, Moe batted a combined .452 in his junior and senior seasons.

1954 Manchester High School Varsity Baseball

Moe was a 6’1″ multi-sport athlete. He attended the University of Connecticut where he excelled as an All-American in baseball and soccer. He helped the Huskies win two NCAA District titles. He was appointed UConn co-captain, batted .365 and was considered the finest collegiate prospect in New England. During the summer months, Moe played for St. Cyril’s baseball club in the Hartford Twilight League. After four GHTBL seasons and three years at UConn, Moe signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1959 as a free agent.

1957 University of Connecticut Baseball
Moe Morhardt, University of Connecticut, 1959.

Twelve major league clubs scouted Moe Morhardt but Cubs chief scout, Lennie Merullo was first in line. Moe accepted the Cubs offert that came with a $50,000 signing bonus. The newest Cubs prospect was assigned to Fort Worth, Texas, and would find himself at three different minor league levels that year including the Class D Paris Lakers in Paris, Illinois. In 1960, he was first baseman for the Class A Lancaster Red Roses of the Eastern League and then assigned to the Class B Wenatchee Chiefs in 1961.

Moe Morhardt, Chicago Cubs, 1961.

Moe was called up to Chicago and made his major league debut on September 7, 1961. He appeared in 7 games for Cubs, hit for a .278 batting average and was the first Manchester native in 40 years to reach the major leagues. The following year he played 18 games as a pinch-hitter. His final MLB bat ended in a swinging strikeout against Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Moe was sent down to the minors and split the season between Wenatchee, Washington and Class AA San Antonio, Texas. He spent 1963 and 1964 in the Cubs farm system and retired from professional baseball soon thereafter.

Moe Morhardt, Chicago Cubs, 1962.
Moe Morhardt (right) slides, Chicago Cubs, 1952.

In the summer of 1965, Moe rejoined the Hartford Twilight League. As a standout for the Moriarty Brothers franchise and he immediately won a league title. After his playing career, Moe became head baseball coach at The Gilbert School in Winsted, Connecticut, from 1967 to 1987, and also served as athletic director. He recorded 299 wins, 134 losses, 8 league titles and 4 Class M state championships at Gilbert. He was elected to the Manchester Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

Moe Morhardt and his three sons, Hartford Courant excerpt, 1979.

In 1988, Moe took a job coaching University of Hartford where he would teach baseball for seven seasons; serving as an assistant from 1988 to 1992 and as head coach from 1993 to 1994. From 1997 to 1999, he was head coach of the Western Connecticut State University baseball team. Moe was also head coach of the Danbury Westerners of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, coaching the team from 1998 to 2004.

Moe Morhardt, Head Coach, University of Hartford, 1989.

Moe had three sons, Darryl, Greg and Kyle who were raised in Winsted. Most recently, a semi-retired Moe and his son Darryl established a summer youth team, the Torrington Copperheads who compete in the Pete Kokinis Baseball League (formerly Jaycee-Courant League). Moe also continues to support his grandson, Justin Morhardt of the People’s United Bank franchise by attending at twilight league games.

Moe Morhardt, Manager, Torrington Copperheads, Pete Kokinis Baseball League, 2019.

“You should value every at bat. The biggest regret a hitter should have is that he gave away an at bat.”

Moe Morhardt

“Moe Morhardt was a wonderful as a hitting coach. He kept it very simple. He’s just a great baseball mind in so many different ways. Every time I hear ‘Moe Morhardt,’ I smile.”

Jeff Bagwell, former University of Hartford player and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

Darryl H. Morhardt

Darryl Morhardt was born on October 23, 1962, as the oldest of his siblings. In 1980 he graduated from The Gilbert School where he was a catcher and a utility man. He was also a top basketball player for Manchester Community College in 1982. Darryl went on to play college baseball at Coastal Carolina University for three years. Then he signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves to begin a short professional career.

Darryl Morhardt, Catcher, The Gilbert School, 1983.

After suffering a shattered wrist on a fastball from reliever John Wetteland, Darryl Morhardt returned home to coach. He was an assistant coach at the University of Hartford (1991-1995), Gateway Junior College, Western Connecticut State College, Marietta College and George Washington University. In his time at Marietta, Darryl aided legendary coach Don Schaly in achieving five Ohio Athletic Conference titles and three Division III World Series appearances.

Darryl Morhardt featured in the Baltimore Sun collecting baseball equipment for U.S. Troops in Iraq, 2007.

Darryl eventually went on to work for the Baltimore Orioles organization as scout. During the summer months he was also a pitching coach in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the Torrington Twisters. He then served as head coach of NECBL’s Holyoke Blue Sox (2008-2012). In 2016, he was tapped as pitching coach for the Newport Gulls. When he found time, Darryl played on teams in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League, Tri-State League and the Waterbury Twi-Met League.

Darryl Morhardt (left), Head Coach, Holyoke Blue Sox, NECBL, 2009.

Darryl Morhardt is an unsung hero of amateur baseball. For a span of about 40 years, he competed in summer leagues throughout Connecticut and nationally. He played his first GHTBL season for Middletown’s Bordiere Travel team in 1982. He returned to the twi-loop in 1991 to join the Society for Savings team led by Manager Tom Abbruzzese. At catcher, pitcher and first base, Darryl suited up for Abbruzzese’s bankers franchise until 2007 and captured a total of five leagues titles with People’s United Bank.

Darryl Morhardt, Bank of Boston, GHTBL, 1995.
2000 People’s United Bank

In 2013, Darryl Morhardt became head baseball coach at Housatonic High School. He has also coached several AAU teams, including his current club, the Torrington Copperheads. Recently, he won a Men’s Senior Baseball League 50-over national championship as a member of the Salty Dogs, a Rhode Island-based team. In a 55-over MSBL national championship against a team form Florida, Darryl played against Dante Bichette and Mark Whiten. Darryl continues to play amateur ball on a 38-over team in the Northeast Baseball Association; a league Darryl has won four straight years.

Darryl Morhardt, Head Coach, Housatonic HIgh School, 2018.
Darryl Morhardt (left), Head Coach, Housatonic HIgh School, with former player, Willy Yahn, 2019.
Darryl Morhardt (right), Head Coach, Torrington Copperheads, 2019.
2019 Salty Dogs, 50+ MSBL Champions

Gregory R. Morhardt

Greg Morhardt was born on October 25, 1963. He learned to play baseball from his father Moe and alongside his two brothers, Darryl and Kyle. Greg was a star athlete at The Gilbert School in multiple sports. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 14th round of the 1981 MLB June Amateur Draft but instead decided to attend college at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. In his junior season he batted .346 with 17 homers and 57 RBIs and was picked by the Minnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 1984 MLB June Amateur Draft. 

Greg Morhardt, The Gilbert School, 1981.
Greg Morhardt, Orlando Twins, 1985
Greg Morhardt, Portland Beavers, 1987.
Greg Morhardt, First Baseman, Glens Falls Tigers, 1988.

Greg Morhardt’s professional career began in Orlando, Florida, as first baseman for the 1984 Orlando Twins (Class AA Southern League). By 1986, he was called up to the Toledo Mud Hens, the Twins AAA affiliate. He ended the season with a career best .263 batting average, 13 home runs and 70 RBI. Greg was well-traveled during the 1987 season as a member of the Portland Beavers in Oregon and the Orlando Twins. After a tough year at the plate, he was released by the Twins, but the Detroit Tigers picked him up. Following his stint with the Tigers Greg returned home to Connecticut.

Greg Morhardt, MLB Scout, 2014.

In twilight of his playing career, Greg Morhardt was a star in the GHTBL. He played for Tom Abbruzzese’s Society for Savings franchise from 1992 to 1996. Then he continued his career in baseball as an area scout for the Los Angeles Angels. Most notably, Greg scouted Mike Trout at 16 years old and insisted the Angels take Trout in the 2009 MLB Draft. Greg had been a minor league teammate of Mike Trout’s father Jeff Trout. In 2010, Greg earned a lifetime achievement in athletics award from The Gilbert School. He now works for the Boston Red Sox as a professional scout and resides in Winsted, Connecticut.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, 2012.

“He had speed and strength. It was a perfect storm of athleticism.”

Greg Morhardt, on scouting Mike Trout.

Justin J. Morhardt

Justin Morhardt was born on March 3, 1994. Like his father, uncle and grandfather, Justin attended The Gilbert School and was a highly scouted baseball player. Then he became a veritable slugger at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. During college, he overcame a serious health concern called Graves Disease causing thyroid problems. In his return to Bryan as a junior he was selected as a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American. That year, Justin helped the Lions to a 35-16 overall record and 17-10 record in Appalachian Athletic Conference play, earning Bryan their first-ever at-large NAIA National Tournament bid.

Justin Morhardt drafted by the Atlanta Braves, 2017.

A week after being named a NAIA All-American, Justin was drafted by Braves in the 22nd round in the 2017 MLB Draft. At rookie ball with the Braves in the Gulf Coast League, he appeared in 26 games at catcher. A series of concussions led him to call it quits on his professional career. Nowadays, Justin continues to play as an amatuer in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. He is a key two-way player for People’s United Bank. In his day job, he works as Staff Accountant at King, King & Associates CPA in Winsted.

Justin Morhardt, Catcher, Gulf Coast League Braves, 2017.
Justin Morhardt, Pitcher, People’s United Bank, GHTBL, 2019.

Mike Morhardt

Mike Morhardt is the uncle of Justin and a first cousin to Darryl and Greg. He was a gifted baseball and basketball player from Stafford, Connecticut, and contributed to the Morhardt sports legacy. Mike attended the University of Hartford and pitched under his uncle, Moe Morhardt. In 1994, Mike pitched for the East Hartford Jets in the GHTBL. After finishing his playing career in 1994, he became varsity pitching coach for the Hawks at the University of Hartford. He later became coach at Windsor Locks High School for baseball and girl’s basketball. Then, Mike coached Stafford High School basketball in 2009 but has since returned to Windsor Locks as baseball coach and a physical education teacher.

Mike Morhardt, Pitcher, Stafford High School, 1990.

Sources

  1. Hartford Courant database on Newspapers.com
  2. Baseball-Reference.com

Ron Pizzanello, A Baseball Life

In 1977, former star catcher at Bulkeley High School and Eastern Connecticut State University, Ron Pizzanello, signed a professional baseball contract. He did so with the Colombo Nettuno team of the Italian Baseball League (now known as Serie A1). At the time of his signing, Pizzanello played for the Vernon Orioles of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League managed by Frank McCoy. After playing in Italy, he returned to the Vernon Orioles franchise as the team’s backstop.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1977.
Ron Pizzanello (#12) and Colombo Nettuno teammates, 1977.
Ron Pizzanello, Catcher, Vernon Orioles, 1985.
Hartford Courant excerpt, June 12, 1987.

After a battle with diabetes that claimed both of his lower legs, Pizzanello has persevered. He was a successful American Legion baseball for South Windsor in the 1990’s and 2000’s. In 2018, Pizzanello came back to the GHTBL as manager of the South Windsor Phillies franchise. Also supporting the team with Pizzanello is Reading Phillies Hall of Fame inductee, Gary Burnham Jr who serves as the team’s General Manager. The team’s sponsor is Tony Desmond of Allstate Insurance – South Windsor.

Diabetes forces Pizzanello to end his playing career, 1990.
2018 South Windsor Phillies

GHTBL Career

  • West Hartford Merchants, 1974
  • Vernon Orioles, 1975
  • East Hartford Merchants, 1976
  • Vernon Orioles, 1978 – 1989
  • South Windsor Phillies (Manager), 2018 – present
Ron Pizzanello, Manager, South Windsor Phillies, 2019.
Ron Pizzanello, Manager, South Windsor Phillies, 2019.

Awards & Accomplishments

  • Little League Connecticut State Champions, Hartford All Stars
  • All City Baseball Catcher, Bulkeley High School, 1971-72
  • All Conference, Bulkeley High School, 1971-72
  • Captain Bulkeley Varsity Baseball
  • All-Conference Wrestler, Second Team
  • Received a degree from Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Starting varsity catcher, ECSU Baseball, 1974-76
  • Elected Captain, ECSU Baseball, 1976
  • All-New England Second Team Catcher, ECSU Baseball, 1976
  • Inducted into the Bulkeley High School Hall of Fame, 2017
  • 2020 GHTBL Regular Season Title
GHTBL meeting with Ron Pizzanello (standing, right), 2018.

The Bristol Merchants, a Twilight League Dynasty

Over 11 seasons (2001-2011), the Bristol Merchants were 9-time GHTBL Champions, winning 4 Playoff Championships and 5 Season Titles. Their home site was the venerable Muzzy Field. The franchise was led by their player-manager, Bunty Ray and Joe Parlante who have since founded a wood bat company, Rally Bats in Bristol, Connecticut. Other major contributors to the Merchants were GHTBL veterans including: Joe Parlante, Brian Archibald, Eric Butkiewicz, Rick Barrett, Rick Hewey and Adam Peters. The following Bristol Merchants players also advanced to play professional baseball:

Bristol Merchants win 1st GHTBL championship, 2004.
Kevin Rival, Pitcher, Bristol Merchants, 2006.
Bristol Merchants win 2nd GHTBL championship, 2004.
Bristol Merchants win 4th GHTBL championship, 2009.
Bunty Ray, Player-Manager, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
Jason Maule, Outfielder, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
Nick Macellaro, Shortstop, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
Nick Macellaro, Shortstop, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
Adam Peters, Designated Hitter, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
Adam Peters, Designated Hitter, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
Joe Parlante, First Baseman, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
Scott Martin, Pitcher, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
Ryan Pacyna, Pitcher, Bristol Merchants, 2009.
2009 Bristol Merchants
Jarrett Stawarz, Pitcher, Bristol Merchants, 2011.
Baserunner, Bristol Merchants, 2011.
Muzzy Field, Bristol, Connecticut.

Herb Sheintop, Twilight League Legend

This article was written by Bohdan Kolinsky, Hartford Courant Assistant Sports Editor on November 23, 1997.

Hartford lost an institution on November 10, 1997, with the passing of Herb Sheintop, who owned Herb’s Sport Shop in Hartford for nearly 40 years. When you walked into Herb’s – on Asylum, Trumbull, Allyn or the present location on 250 Main Street – you could only stand there in amazement, and look at the cramped quarters that were full of sports merchandising, always piled to the ceiling.

Of course, Herb would greet you with one of his patented, at-times corny jokes. Without fail, Herb’s jokes always drew a laugh or a chuckle, regardless of how many times he had told the joke. A visit to Herb’s could last for hours because he was always in tune with what was happening because of his dealings with hundreds of high school athletic directors and coaches from around the state.

“Hey, you wanna a scoop?” Herb would usually ask when I walked in. “Vanilla or chocolate?”

Baseball was Herb’s favorite sport. Herb pitched in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League, once even had a no-hitter. A Herb’s-sponsored team has been a fixture in the GHTBL for parts of five decades and for that, he was inducted into the Twilight League Hall of Fame in the sponsor’s division.

“Herb was the oldest active sponsor and one of the best we had,” league president Jim Gallagher said Saturday.

“Herb was a great friend, a very unselfish man. Very often players would come into his store looking for a team to play on. He would direct them to me to make sure they had a place to play. He was great to everybody in the league, helped keep a lot of teams going.”

Gallagher said the league will dedicate its awards banquet in January to Sheintop. Herb also sponsored teams in the Jaycee-Courant League, and Babe Ruth and Little League teams in West Hartford, where he lived with his wife, Ruth.

Sheintop presents trophy to Hartford VFW Post #254 Softball Champions, 1960.

“He was a very generous, kind man and very supportive of youth sports,” said Herb Lawton, who has worked at the store 18 years with Bill Stewart, Norm Kershaw, Herb’s son, Andrew, and Herb’s nephew, Al Sogolow.

“We couldn’t begin to count how many times he bailed out teams so they could wear their new uniforms. He often would say, `Pay me when you raise the money.’ ” That’s how we got our American Legion program in Wethersfield started.”

“That was my father,” said Andrew, who now runs the business. “The main thing with my father was that he always wanted to make sure kids had an opportunity to play ball. Be part of a team.”

Herb knew every inch of the store, knew where everything was: whether it was that high school team’s uniform order, special baseball bat, or the maroon or royal blue laces for those Chuck Taylor Converse All- Star sneakers the kids bought for $7.95 a pair in the 1960s and ’70s.

In 1988, the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance honored Herb with the Good Sport Award, given to those who volunteer their time and support to local athletics.

A true good sport, Herb will be missed.

This article was written by Bohdan Kolinsky, Hartford Courant Assistant Sports Editor on November 23, 1997.

Herb’s Sport Shop advertisement, 1966.
Herb’ Sports Shop players receive trophy, 1968.
Bill Guida, RHP, Herb’s Sport Shop, 1969.
Sheintop & Bud Fidgeon, Rawlings salesman, 1971.
Herb’s son, Dave Sheintop, Shortstop, Herb’s Sport Shop, 1981.

Note: Herb Sheintop is a GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee – Sponsors Division.

South Windsor Captures Regular Season Title

Ron Pizzanello and the fightin’ Phillies clinch 1st place.

The South Windsor Phillies defeated the Vernon Orioles on Thursday, August 6th and captured the 2020 Regular Season Title.  In 2018, the Phillies pressed the reset button on a Twilight franchise in South Windsor. It only took 3 seasons for the club to achieve a pennant. Over our 12-game season, the Phils relied on the slugging of Mike Lisinicchia, Brody Labbe and Jordan Zima and solid pitching from Trevor Moulton and Andre Jose.

Trevor Moulton, Pitcher, South Windsor Phillies.

Ron Pizzanello, former catcher in the GHTBL and professional player in the Italian Baseball League, recruited and managed the South Windsor Phillies to victory. This is Ron’s third year as manager. By leading the Phillies and by overcoming health complications, Ron continues to prove that, with grit and passion, any goal is achievable.

Ron Pizzanello, Manager, South Windsor Phillies.

The GHTBL Executive Committee thanks and recognizes Tony Desmond (1944-2020) and Gary Burnham Jr. for supporting the South Windsor franchise for many years. Congratulations to the South Windsor Phillies on their success as they proceed to the 2020 Playoff Tournament starting Sunday, August 9th at various sites.  Will the Phillies win both championship titles this summer? We shall see. Stay tuned! 

Bill Shea Photographs GHTBL Ball Games

Professional photos from a fan of the league.

Since last season, a local photographer named Bill Shea has been snapping shots of Twilight League action. Fans of the league are welcomed to send in photos to: CONTACT@GHTBL.ORG or tag us on Instagram: @GHTBL. We will feature you and your talents! Thank you to Bill and all of the fans who have come to our games this season. We are reporting a record number of fans this year!

VIEW BILL SHEA’S PHOTOGRAPHY AT: https://www.billsheaphotographer.com/GHTBL-Baseball

Play Ball! 2020 Schedule Posted

The GHTBL Regular Season schedule has been published.

After a recent league meeting, GHTBL Executive Committee members have determined the 2020 Regular Season schedule.  Some dates are subject to change. 7 franchises will compete in the 92nd season of the Twilight League. Each team will play 12 games followed by our standard double-elimination playoff tournament.

Players will need to appear in 2 games to qualify for playoffs. Fans will be welcomed at all games as long as they social distance and adhere to state guidelines..

GHTBL officials, managers and players are pleased to be playing baseball again. In partnership with the Hartford Board of Umpires, the league will work diligently to protect players, coaches, umpires and fans.

Opening Day is July 7, 2020

GHTBL announces start of 2020 season.

LEAGUE ANNOUNCEMENT

Monday, July 7, 2020 will be Opening Day this year. The Twilight League will begin its 92nd season of play.

12 games followed by a double-elimination playoff tournament (more details and full schedule to be announced).

Players should plan to use their own personal equipment like gloves and helmets.

The league will be announcing other safety measures and precautions in the near future but they will not limit the game on the field.

We’re looking forward to playing ball!

Stayed tuned for additional updates. 

League Update on 2020 Season

In the wake of COVID-19, GHTBL Executive Committee and managers weigh options.

GHTBL Executive Committee members and managers are exploring options for our upcoming season. Even though COVID-19 has disrupted our way of life, the Twilight League is staying optimistic.

General consensus among our managers is to plan for a shortened season followed by a double-elimination playoff tournament. Whether it’s 14 or 17 regular season games, league officials are doing everything they can to create a schedule for this summer.

Unfortunately, any final decision on our 2020 season is not our choice to make. While Governor Ned Lamont has announced partial reopening for the State of Connecticut on May 20, 2020.

Park and Recreation departments from around the state should be opening up ballfields on this date but no guarantees can be made. GHTBL managers will be coordinating with town, municipalities and stadium owners to firm up possible dates.

President Bill Holowaty will make an official announcement on our 2020 season by the end of May. Let’s hope that by June our league will be able to publish a schedule. Stay tuned for updates and expect to play baseball this summer.

**Our entire league applauds nurses, doctors and first responders who continue to battle the virus everyday. We send our condolences to those of you who have lost family members to COVID-19.**

GHTBL Joins ABCA

All GHTBL Managers become ABCA members to improve coaching and player development.

The GHTBL is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).  Our league and all of our managers will become members of the ABCA, the world’s largest amateur baseball coaching organization. 

The ABCA provides coaching resources, clinics, events, news and information about all things amateur baseball.  There are nearly 13,000 members representing all 50 states and 25 countries worldwide.

GHTBL President, Bill Holowaty is an ABCA Board Member, a former ABCA President and a 2002 ABCA Hall of Fame inductee.  Coach Holowaty is looking forward to improving the baseball knowledge and teaching tools of each GHTBL manager. 

Coach says, “You only get better if you keep learning.”  Barry Chasen, former Windsor High School head coach, GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee and current Greater Hartford umpire was inducted in the ABCA Hall of Fame in 2017.

The GHTBL is excited to join the ABCA in 2020 and our managers look forward to helping amateur ballplayers reach their fullest potential.  A special thanks goes to ABCA Executive Director Craig Keilitz for his tireless efforts in operating a world class baseball organization.

Chris Denorfia Coming Home to Manage Yard Goats

Former GHTBL outfielder signs on as Hartford Yard Goats Manager.

At 39 years old, Chris Denorfia has been named Manager of the Hartford Yard Goats. In his new role Denorfia will be greeted back to his home state of Connecticut following a 10-year Major League career.  He was a journeyman outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and for other minor league clubs. In 2018 he joined the Cubs as Special Assistant to the President/General Manager, Theo Epstein.  During the 2019 MLB season Denorfia was the Cubs’ Quality Assurance Coach as part of Manager Joe Maddon’s staff.

Chris Denorfia carried by Cubs teammates after game-winning homer, 2015.
Chris Denorfia doused by Cubs teammates for a walk-off homer, 2015.

Denorfia was born in Bristol and was raised in Southington, Connecticut.  He played prep school baseball at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, under Head Coach Tom Yankus and was inducted into the Choate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.  During the summer of his high school years Denorfia was a standout player for the Wallingford Legion program. 

Chris Denorfia inducted into Choate Athletics Hall of Fame, 2012.
Chris Denorfia inducted into Wheaton College Athletic Hall of Fame, 2013.

He went on to play college ball at Wheaton College where he was a Division III All-American and would later be inducted in the Wheaton College Athletic Hall of Fame. In the summer of 1999 Denorfia played in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League for a full season with a Simsbury-based franchise operated by Tim Vincent and Tom Vincent of Simsbury, Connecticut.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1999.
Chris Denorfia, Outfielder, Wheaton College, 2000.

Denorfia officially became a professional prospect when he led the Manchester Silk Worms of the New England Collegiate Baseball League in the summer of 2000 and 2001, making the NECBL All-Star Game both years.  Winsted native, former Major Leaguer and GHTBL alumnus, Moe Morhardt was Denorfia’s manager with the Silkworms in 2000. 

Hartford Courant excerpt, 2001.

Denorfia was said to be a highly coachable ballplayer, a plus defender, fleet of foot and capable of hitting for power.  He was later picked out of Wheaton College in the 19th round of the 2002 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds and later made his Major League debut for the Reds in 2005.

Chris Denorfia, Cincinatti Reds organization, 2002.
Dayton Daily News excerpt, 2007.

Perhaps the top highlights of Denorfia’s baseball career came from starring in the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2013 for Team Italy.  After hitting 41 home runs, driving in 196 runs and batting for a .272 average in the big leagues, Denorfia played his last MLB game on October 4, 2015 with the Cubs. 

Chris Denorfia celebrates home run at World Baseball Classic, 2013.

He signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants the following season.  Listed at 6 feet tall and 195 pounds, he ended his playing career after the 2017 season in the Colorado Rockies organization with the Triple-A affiliate, Albuquerque Isotopes. Denorfia’s invaluable baseball experience and ties to the Greater Hartford community is expected to serve the Hartford Yard Goats very well as Manager in their 2020 Eastern League campaign.

Chris Denorfia (left) doused during interview after walk-off homer, 2013.

GHTBL Executive Committee Holds Winter Meeting

President Holowaty leads plans for 2020 season.

On Sunday, December 8, 2019, the Executive Committee and managers of each GHTBL franchise convened at OC Kitchen in Rocky Hill, Connecticut for our annual winter meeting.  In preparation for the upcoming season,

GHTBL leadership discussed, decided and voted on several league matters.  These included where and when to play another league-wide Charity Series, revisions to GHTBL By-laws and mobilizing for the 3rd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament.

The golf tournament is planned for Sunday, May 17, 2020 at Blackledge Country Club in Hebron, Connecticut. All GHTBL Alumni will be invited to attend.  The Executive Committee predicts that 120 golfers will attend and that major support from local businesses will come in the form of tee signs sponsorships.

GHTBL leadership debated and eventually agreed on the start of the 2020 season. Opening Day of the Regular Season is expected to take place in the last week of May between reigning champions, the Vernon Orioles and Playoff Tournament runner-ups, People’s United Bank. 

All 8 GHTBL franchises plan to actively recruit new players as the season nears, especially in the age range of 18 to 22 years old. 

Remembering Owen Canfield and his Twilight League Coverage

Owen Canfield Jr. was an esteemed Register Citizen sports columnist turned Hartford Courant editor who died on Saturday, November 30, 2019 in his hometown of Torrington, Connecticut. Canfield worked in the newspaper business for nearly 59 years reporting on several sports including baseball at the local and national level. He was known for his ease in connecting with people and for his comedic style of writing. He was 85 years old. Canfield was also a GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee, Media Division.

Hamilton Standard wins Twilight Playoffs by Owen Canfield, 1966.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1976.

Owen Canfield Jr. was born in Torrington, on February 1, 1934, to the late Owen F. Canfield, Sr. and Marjorie (Wheeler) Canfield. He graduated from Torrington High School in 1952 and spent four years in the Air Force, including some time in Korea during the Korean Conflict. He met his wife Ethel Riley, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, when he was stationed in St. Albans, Vermont. The Canfield’s became parents to 10 children and were lifelong parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Church of Torrington.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1977.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1978.

He began his journalism career in 1960 at what was then called the Torrington Register. In mid-September of 1965, Canfield was hired at The Hartford Courant by legendary sports editor Bill Lee. Throughout his career, Canfield covered Jack Nicklaus’ Masters victory in 1986; Reggie Jackson’s 3-homer game in the World Series of 1978 at Yankee Stadium, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in Atlanta, Pete Rose’s base hit that broke Ty Cobb’s record and the NCAA tournament game in 1990 when Scot Burrell threw the pass and Tate George made the shot to beat Clemson.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1983.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1983.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1983.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1983.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1984.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1984.

Canfield became a 7-time Connecticut Sportswriter of the Year, a Torrington High School Hall of Fame and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee. He penned special interest columns in the Hartford Courant on the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League from 1966 until 1995 and was inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame. Canfield retired in 1995 from The Courant after working at the paper for 30 years. He continued to write columns periodically through 2008 and then did the same for the Register Citizen until the final year of his life.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1985.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1985.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1990.

In his last article on March 30, 2019, Owen Canfield wrote, “Once I heard Mickey Mantle say in a TV interview that whenever he took a swing at a pitch, he swung with all his might. ‘I wanted to hit it as far as I could every time,’ said The Mick. I like that, and I like to think that whenever I submitted a column, I had swung with all my might, even if I struck out.”

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1993.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1995.

Jeff Bagwell, From Hartford to the Hall

  • Born: 5/27/1968 in Boston, Massachussetts
  • High School: Xavier High School (Middletown, Connecticut)
  • College: University of Hartford
  • GHTBL: Malloves Jewelers
  • Cape Cod League: Chatham A’s
  • Drafted: 1989, Boston Red Sox, 4th Round, 109th Overall.
  • Traded: Boston Red Sox send Bagwell to Houston Astros for pitcher Larry Andersen in 1990.
  • Major League Debut: 4/8/1991
  • Awards: Rookie of the Year (1991), National League MVP (1994) and 4-time All-Star.
  • National Baseball Hall of Fame: 2017
Jeff Bagwell (left) with teammates from University of Hartford, 1987.
Jeff Bagwell (right), Malloves Jewelers, GHTBL, 1987.
Jeff Bagwell, Malloves Jewelers, GHTBL 1987.

Jeff Bagwell, University of Hartford, 1988.
Jeff Bagwell, University of Hartford, 1988.
Jeff Bagwell, Chatham A’s, Cape Cod League, 1988.
Jeff Bagwell, New Britain Red Sox, 1990.
Jeff Bagwell, New Britain Red Sox, 1990.
Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros, 1991.
Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros, 1991.
Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros, 2004.
Jeff Bagwell inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, 2017.

View Jeff Bagwell’s MLB career batting statistics on Baseball-Reference.com

2019 Annual Awards – Complete List

People’s United Bank Rakes in the Accolades

Here are the 2019 GHTBL Award Winners:

Frank McCoy Award – Most Valuable Player – Jason Sullivan, 3B, Record-Journal Expos

Ray McKenna Award – Player of the Year – Ian Halpin, INF, Vernon Orioles

Mike Liappes Award – Most Valuable Pitcher – Charlie Hesseltine, P, Record-Journal Expos

Rev. Thomas Campion Award – Outstanding Playoff Hitter – Daren Grabowski, OF, People’s United Bank

Mike Abbruzzese Award – Outstanding Playoff Pitcher – Jimmy Schult, P/OF, East Hartford Jets

Hal Lewis Award – Most Versatile Player – A.J. Hendrickson, P/C, Record-Journal Expos

Jack Repass Award – Gold Glove – Jack Risley, SS, People’s United Bank

James Gallagher Award – Rookie of the Year – Pete Barrows, Ulbrich Steel and Mac Finnegan, OF, People’s United Bank

Gene Johnson Award – Regular Season Batting Title – Daren Grabowski, OF, People’s United Bank

Ralph Giansanti Sr. Award – Stolen Base Leader – Hector Gonzalez, SS, Record-Journal Expos

Mark and Jane Foss Award – RBI Leader – Mac Finnegan, OF, People’s United Bank

Jack Rose Trophy – Playoff Champion – Vernon Orioles, Jack Ceppetelli, Manager

Jake Banks Trophy – Regular Season Champion – Record-Journal Expos, Charlie Hesseltine, Manager

All-Star Game at Muzzy Field

GHTBL All-Stars vs. CTL All-Stars at 7 PM.

On Sunday, August 19, 2019 at 7 PM, the GHTBL All-Star Team will face the CTL All-Star Team at Muzzy Field in Bristol, Connecticut. 

The matchup will be the fourth between the two leagues in which the GHTBL All-Stars remain unbeaten.

Muzzy Field, Bristol, Connecticut.

The following GHTBL players have been selected to the All-Star Team for the 2019 season:

1.  Michael Santiago, C/OF, East Hartford Jets

2.  Jeff Criscuolo, IF, East Hartford Jets

3.  Jimmy Schult, P, East Hartford Jets

4.  Jared Pflaumer, IF, Malloves Jewelers

5.  Johnny Martin, P, Malloves Jewelers

6.  Daren Grabowski, IF/OF, People’s United Bank

7.  Tyler Pina, OF, People’s United Bank

8.  Jack Risley, SS, People’s United Bank

9. Mac Finnegan, OF, People’s United Bank

10.  Eric Malinowski, P, People’s United Bank


11.  Tyler Repoli, 1B, Rainbow Graphics

12.  Jack Rich, OF, Record-Journal Expos

13.  Jason Sullivan, 3B, Record-Journal Expos

14.  A.J. Hendrickson, P/C, Record-Journal Expos

15  Charlie Hesseltine, P, Record-Journal Expos
 
16.  Shane Bogli, P, South Windsor Phillies

17.  Tyler Popp, C, Ulbrich Steel

18.  Peter Barrows, 1B, Ulbrich Steel

19.  Dan Livingston, P, Ulbrich Steel

20.  Nick Hock, P, Ulbrich Steel

21.  Ian Halpin, IF, Vernon Orioles

22.  Jack Halpin, IF, Vernon Orioles 

23.  Jordan English, OF/P, Vernon Orioles

24.  Matt Purnell, P, Vernon Orioles


Alternates:

1.  Marvin Gorgas, P, Malloves Jewelers  

2.  Brody Labbe, OF, South Windsor Phillies

3.  Aedin Wadja, 2B, South Windsor Phillies

4.  Ryan Pandolfi, C/IF, Rainbow Graphics

5.  Hector Gonzalez, SS, Record-Journal Expos

6.  Jonny Walter, OF, Record-Journal Expos


7.  Zach Donahue, IF/P, Vernon Orioles

2019 Playoff Tournament: August 5th to 14th

Postseason at Trinity College and Palmer Field.

The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is excited to announce the 2019 Playoff Tournament schedule and bracket. This year, the majority of the double-elimination tournament will be hosted at Trinity College in Hartford, from August 5th until the 12th. 

Then, the final two games of the playoffs will determine a champion at Palmer Field in Middletown on August 13th and 14th. The Record-Journal Expos and Vernon Orioles are the top seeds entering the GHTBL postseason.  Seeding has yet to be determined.

#spreadingORANGE Series for MS

  • Sunday, July 21, 2019
  • 10:00 AM  8:00 PM
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Park, 1214 Main Street Hartford, CT, 06103 (map)
  • Google Calendar  ICS

All 8 GHTBL franchises will play 4 Regular Season games in a day to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research and spread awareness about the disease.

$10 admission at the main gate. Free for all kids 14 and under.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS FROM MS4MS

Hardball for Heroes at Palmer Field

4 games to benefit American Legion Post 75 on Sunday, July 14, 2019.

  • All 8 GHTBL teams will play 4 Regular Season games in a single day at Palmer Field to benefit the American Legion. 
     
  • $10 tickets are being sold at Malloves Jewelers at 404 Main Street Middletown, CT and will be available at the main gate on the day of the event.
     
  • Free for all veterans, military service members and kids 14 and under.

Pizzanello’s Return, a Life-changing Experience

Ron Pizzanello is manager of the South Windsor Phillies.

Magical things sometimes happen on and around the baseball field, and one need look no further than the South Windsor Phillies dugout to be reminded of this.

Ron Pizzanello, in his second year as coach after a reluctant return to a sport he left years ago, calls the shots there. He makes the lineup with players he recruited to this Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League team. He argues with the umpires. This is where he comes and this is what he does to feel whole again.

“I don’t know what I’d do without baseball,” Pizzanello said.

About four years ago, with Type-1 diabetes wreaking havoc on his circulatory system, Pizzanello started having body parts removed. His left leg was amputated below the knee in 2015, and above the knee in 2016. Doctors took his right leg below the knee in 2017.

Ron Pizzanello, Manager, South Windsor Phillies, 2018.
(Photographer: Johnathon Henninger / Special to the Courant)

Pizzanello, a Hartford native who was a feisty catcher under Bill Holowaty at Eastern Connecticut before graduating in 1976, lost equally meaningful parts of himself through years of debilitating health, too — some pride, some purpose, a whole lot of confidence. He became depressed.

But what Pizzanello has gotten out of a return to baseball, with a nudge from Holowaty, speaks to the power of feeling included, the power of sport, the power of having someone believe in you, the power of human connection and common goals.

Pizzanello, prosthetic legs and wheelchair and all, is just another guy spending a few evenings a week on the dusty diamonds of central Connecticut, again just one of the boys.

“When you wake up in the morning and you know you have something to do, it’s good,” said Holowaty, who won 1,404 games and four national championships in 45 years at Eastern and is now the GHTBL president. “It makes your life a lot better. True or false? That’s what it’s doing for him, and I just feel delighted.”

South Windsor Phillies at Rotary Field, South Windsor, Connecticut.
(Photographer: Johnathon Henninger / Special to the Courant)

Holowaty hadn’t spoken much to Pizzanello, now of Eastford, over the years but kept up with his story, which included Pizzanello’s year as a professional baseball player in Italy just after graduating from college. He arrived at 195 pounds and left at 128 pounds.

He couldn’t figure out what was happening to his body. His father came for a visit and said it must be diabetes. People in Italy suggested the same. Pizzanello didn’t want to hear it.

“I was playing like crap, and that’s what really ticked me off,” Pizzanello said. “I was 22, and you don’t get diabetes at 22, but I had all the symptoms. I was eating like a horse and losing weight. My dad said he wanted me to return home. I said, ‘Dad, we’re one game out of first place and there’s a $15,000 bonus if we win the championship.’”

Pizzanello, now 64, stuck it out as long as he could.

Pizzanello fills out his scorebook, South Windsor, 2018.
(Photographer: Johnathon Henninger / Special to the Courant)

“We’d go to the best restaurant in town and I’d have a big dish of pasta,” he said. “They called it rigatoni abbondante. That means a lot. I’d eat the whole thing by myself. I’d have a steak or a fish. I’d have some kind of dessert. On the way home, I’d stop and get a big bottle of Coke. I’d have an ice cream.”

When Pizzanello returned to Connecticut he said his blood sugar was over 800 and doctors wondered how he was still alive. He began to properly manage his health and went about a relatively normal life. His first marriage lasted 28 years, and he is a father of three. He was a good player for years in the Twilight league for the Vernon Orioles, the team he coached against last week, until a case of frozen shoulder — people with diabetes are particularly susceptible — made it impossible for him to keep catching.

“I couldn’t hit, anyway, so if I couldn’t catch, I was done,” he said.

Pizzanello, who remarried last year, laughed. He has a lot to laugh about these days. There’s a joy in his voice, even when retracing the obstacles diabetes has produced since he stopped playing in 1990. He spent much of the next 10 years coaching American Legion ball while working as a mainframe system programmer for The Hartford and later IBM. He had a heart attack nearly 15 years ago and has a defibrillator. He had a kidney removed.

Eventually, Pizzanello’s legs were so damaged that blood wasn’t reaching his feet unless he stood, and it was impossible to sleep through agonizing pain. His prosthetic legs — one of which he goes without, occasionally, for fear of a skin infection — are emblazoned with Red Sox logos.

Baseball was always on his mind and in his heart. He didn’t think it was in his future. But Holowaty called last summer, urging him to coach the South Windsor team with the help of Gary Burnham.

“I said ‘Coach, I don’t know,’” Pizzanello said. “I could barely walk. I couldn’t hit a fungo, couldn’t do any of that stuff. And I was in the stages of depression.”

Manager Ron Pizzanello and the South Windsor Phillies, 2018.
(Photographer: Johnathon Henninger / Special to the Courant)

Holowaty kept on his former player, wouldn’t let Pizzanello accept limitations. Pizzanello’s return would be good for Pizzanello and good for a league that is always looking for tough, serious, knowledgeable baseball people.

That’s Pizzanello — tough guy, always, and a baseball guy again.

“It was probably the best decision I’ve made,” Pizzanello said. “I just got so into it. It changed my whole demeanor, everything. I had a lot of fun. Just being part of this has done wonders for me. You wouldn’t believe how much this means to me.”


Story printed in the Hartford Courant: https://www.courant.com/sports/hc-sp-greater-hartford-twilight-baseball-ron-pizzanello-column-20190612-ysxrs5ynhraspcvdnprdwmspju-story.html
 

Article written by Mike Anthony
Mike Anthony

Mike Anthony was named The Courant’s sports columnist in May 2018. He has written about the state’s most prominent athletic programs, including the UConn men’s basketball beat from ’05-11. After a five-year period focused on feature writing, Mike spent two years on the UConn football beat. He also covered the ’17-18 UConn women’s basketball season.

Twilight Alum, Pollock Signs Deal with Dodgers

In 2008, Pollock played for a Glastonbury-based team, Monaco Ford.

The Dodgers have landed a right-handed hitter to complement their deep, left-handed heavy lineup in free-agent outfielder A.J. Pollock (Allen Lorenz Pollock). Pollock and Los Angeles agreed to a $55 million, four-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the agreement had not been announced.

A.J. Pollock, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2020.

The agreement includes a $10 million player option for 2023 with a $5 million buyout that would make the deal worth over $60 million for five seasons. Pollock could opt out after the 2022 season and $45 million, becoming a free agent again, if he meets specified plate appearance thresholds. The 31-year-old outfielder hit .257 last year with 21 home runs, 65 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 113 games for NL West rival Arizona.

A.J. Pollock celebrates his first Arizona Diamondback home run at Chase Field on April 10, 2013. (Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic)

Pollock was a standout baseball player at RHAM High School in Hebron, Connecticut earning All-Northwest Conference accolades three times. RHAM won the State Championship in 2004 behind Pollock. He was All-State in 2005 and 2006 and named the CHSCA and Gatorade Player of the Year in addition to being the All-Courant baseball player of the year before going on to play at Notre Dame. In his senior season, Pollock hit .465 with eight doubles, five triples, four home runs, 20 RBI, 36 runs, 16 stolen bases and an .897 slugging percentage. He struck out just once that year.

A.J. Pollock, RHAM High School, 2005

He will fill a void created when the Dodgers traded outfielders and right-handed hitters Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to Cincinnati for a pair of prospects in December. Pollock figures to play center field, with manager Dave Roberts using a platoon of Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles and possibly top prospect Alex Verdugo in the corners.

A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks, 2018.

Pollock missed nearly two months last year because of a broken left thumb, the latest in a long line of injuries that have limited Pollock to 113 games since his breakout All-Star season in 2015. He rejected a $17.9 million qualifying offer by the Diamondbacks in November.

– The article above was written by Beth Harris, Associated Press.
– AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.

A.J. Pollock, Notre Dame University, 2008.

From GHTBL to the Cape League to the Pros

In 2008, Pollock played for Monaco Ford, a Glastonbury-based team in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League under manager Al Garray. Pollock was soon picked up by the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League and ended up earning the Cape League’s MVP award.  The following year, Pollock was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1st round (17th) of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft out of the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN).

A.J. Pollock, Falmouth Commodores, Cape Cod Baseball League, 2008.

Additional A.J. Pollock facts:

The Moriarty Brothers Franchise & the Legendary Gene Johnson

The most accomplished amateur baseball franchise in Connecticut’s history was a team named Moriarty Brothers. The club hailed from Manchester and its origins could be traced all the way back to the year 1933. The Moriarty nine competed against amateur and semi-pro teams across the state. They were also a part of the Manchester Twilight League for many years before joining the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League in 1962.

Hartford Courant, 1935
Hartford Courant, 1939
Hartford Courant, 1941
Hartford Courant, 1946

The team was sponsored by Matthew Moriarty Sr. (GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee) and his brother, Maurice Moriarty, who were small business owners in Manchester. Moriarty’s was a full service Lincoln-Mercury car dealership, gas station, auto body shop, towing service and used car lot. Matt Moriarty’s profession may have been cars but his passion was baseball. He was an avid fan and supporter of his summer club in the Hartford Twilight League.

Matthew Moriarty Sr. 1958.
Moriarty Brothers, Manchester, CT, 1958.
Moriarty Brothers, Manchester, CT, 1958.

The Moriarty Brothers were nicknamed the “Comets” in reference to the Mercury Comet sports car and to the team’s fast play around the diamond. Over the years, players like Harold Lewis, Moe Morhardt, Pete Sala, Leverette Spencer, Mike Gerich and more would sign to play professional baseball. In their early GHTBL years, the franchise was led by a series of player-managers including University of Connecticut star, Wally Widholm. By 1963, Moriarty Brothers appointed their power-hitting third baseman, Gene Johnson as player-manager.

Wally Widholm, University of Connecticut, 1961.

Gene Johnson became forever intertwined with the Moriarty Brothers franchise. Born in 1937 in Hartford, Eugene Edward Johnson grew up in the town of Manchester as the son of Raymond and Julia Muller Johnson. At 13 years old, Johnson won his first baseball championship with the St. Augustine School of Hartford. By the age of 15, he was a standout batsman for Manchester High School and an exceptional third baseman for Manchester American Legion Post 104.

St. Augustine, Greater Hartford CYO Grammar School Champions, 1950.
Gene Johnson (left), American Legion Post 102, Manchester, CT, 1953.
1954 Manchester High School Varsity Baseball

Johnson began his Hartford Twilight League career in 1954 on the St. Cyril’s baseball club. He was named to the all-star team in his rookie season. In the summer of 1955, he batted .454 in the twi-loop. The New York Giants organization signed Johnson midseason as a 17 year old. He would go on to smash 36 home runs in his first 3 minor league seasons. Johnson temporarily came back to the Twilight League in 1958 with St. Cyril’s, but was signed by the Milwaukee Braves shortly thereafter.

Gene Johnson, Lake Charles Giants, 1956.
St. Cyril’s baseball club, 1958.

In the Braves organization Johnson was slated behind Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Eddie Matthews on Milwaukee’s depth chart at third base. A determined Johnson hit 19 home runs, had 82 RBI and batted .278 for the 1959 Eau Claire Braves of the Northern League. Then he slammed 18 homers, 92 RBI, and hit .292 for the 1960 Cedar Rapids Braves of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League. Johnson was hitting .316 in the Texas League for the 1962 Austin Senators when he decided to step aside from professional baseball. After eight seasons and a total of 91 minor league home runs, Johnson returned home to Connecticut to start a family.

1959 Eau Claire Braves with Gene Johnson (top row, 3rd from left).

Gene and his wife Helen Johnson had six children and made their home in Manchester. He immediately appeared in games for Moriarty Brothers and won the GHTBL batting title in 1962. The following year, Johnson took over as player-manager and eventually led the Comets to 8 Regular Season Titles and 10 Playoff Championships during in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Games took place at Dillon Stadium in Hartford and later at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. More often than not, Johnson and his Moriarty Brothers were top Twilight League contenders in pursuit of the Jack Rose Playoff Championship Trophy.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1962.
Moriarty Brothers Win Twi-Loop, 1965.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1966
Gene Johnson, Moriarty Brothers, 1965
Moriarty Brothers advertisement, 1965
1966 Mercury Comet, Matt Moriarty Jr. (right).
The Johnson Family, 1970.
1970 Moriarty Brothers
Moriarty Brothers, Manchester, CT, 1973.
Leverette Spencer, Moriarty Brothers, 1976.

Comet home games were played at what would become Moriarty Field at Mount Nebo Park in Manchester. Crowds came by the hundreds to watch the best amateur baseball players in the state. Moriarty Brothers’ roster was stacked with professional caliber ballplayers such as Leo Veleas, Jack Taylor and Bob Carlson, though it was Gene Johnson who won MVP year after year. Johnson was a 5-time Batting Title Champion bestowed with the Player of the Half Century Award in 1979 when the league celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Pete Sala (left) and Gene Johnson, 1979.

The 1980’s proved to be another successful decade for the Moriarty Brothers dynasty. Johnson recruited the best collegiate players, pro prospects and local veterans to create a new generation of champions. University of Connecticut first baseman Dave Ford, and Wake Forest University outfielder Bill Masse were mainstays on the team who later signed to play in the minor leagues. Johnson’s sons, Mike Johnson and Jeff Johnson followed in their father’s footsteps by playing for Moriarty Brothers. They were drafted to the minor leagues by the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves respectively.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1980.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1980.
Gene Johnson and his Moriarty Brothers, 1980.
Gene’s son Mike Johnson, Moriarty Brothers, 1980.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1980.

On December 1, 1985, Matthew Moriarty Sr. passed away at the age of 82. The Moriarty Brothers business reorganized and the car dealership became Newman Lincoln-Mercury in 1990. Matt Moriarty Jr. continued to sponsor the baseball team who took on the new name. Even though his playing days were over and the team was no longer the Comets, Gene Johnson remained manager for Newman Lincoln-Mercury

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1985.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1998.
Newman Lincoln-Mercury, 1998.
Jeff Johnson, Foss Insurance, 2010.

The franchise once known as Moriarty Brothers won a total of 7 more GHTBL titles as Newman Lincoln-Mercury. The club fielded strong lineups thanks to players like Brian Crowley and Chris Peterson from the University of Hartford, Craig Steuernagle of the University of Connecticut and Ray Gilha from Eastern Connecticut State University. Dave Bidwell, an Assumption College graduate and seasoned veteran pitched effectively for the Gene Johnson franchise since 1976. Bidwell pitched until 2015 and currently holds the all-time GHTBL record for games started, wins and innings pitched.

Dave Bidwell, Foss Insurance, 2009.
Moriarty Field at Mount Nebo Park, 2010.

In 2004, Mark and Jane Foss of Foss Insurance sponsored Gene Johnson’s franchise. With a mix of young players and seasoned veterans, the team continued to compete at a high level. On November 10, 2014, Gene Johnson passed away at the age of 77. He spent 58 years of his life playing or coaching in the GHTBL. Players like Mark DiTommaso and Kevin Jefferis of Western New England College as well as Evan Chamberlain and Mike Susi of ECSU took over the franchise. In 2015, Foss Insurance won the GHTBL Playoff Championship in Gene’s honor.

Gene Johnson, Manager, Foss Insurance, 2011.
Foss Insurance, 2014.
Gene Johnson, Manager, Foss Insurance, 2014.
Dave Bidwell & Gene Johnson, 2014.
Foss Insurance, GHTBL Champions, 2015.

In 2018, the franchise once known as Moriarty Brothers, received a new sponsorship from Rainbow Graphics, a Manchester-based apparel and design company. Mark DiTommaso carried the torch as player-manager until 2018. The following year, Ryan Pandolfi and Tyler Repoli assumed managerial duties for Rainbow Graphics. Gene Johnson’s franchise holds an all-time Greater Hartford Twilight record of a combined 35 Season Titles and 18 Playoff Championships. Rainbow Graphics are seeking their next title and will continue to develop local ballplayers in the Manchester area for years to come.

Mark DiTommaso, Foss Insurance, 2015.
John Nollet, Rainbow Graphics, 2018.
Mark DiTommaso, Marlborough Braves at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, 2017.
Jack Johnson, grandson of Gene Johnson, Rainbow Graphics, 2020.
Matthew M. Moriarty Field, dedicated in 2020.
Matthew M. Moriarty Field, dedicated in 2020.

Dedicated to Gene Johnson, 1937-2014.

Save the Date! Sunday, May 19, 2019

Announcing the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament & Awards Banquet.

Dear Alumni, Friends and Family

You’re invited to take part in the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament & Awards Banquet at Blackledge Country Club in Hebron, CT, on Sunday, May 19, 2019

The GHTBL gives back to charitable organizations in our Greater Hartford community on an annual basis.  Games are scheduled once a year at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford and the ticket proceeds are given to charity.  Our 2018 Charity Series at Dunkin’ Donuts Park raised $4,500 for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and our 2017 series gave raised $5,641 for Camp Courant.

Before we can give back in 2019, we must first fund our league.  The GHTBL relies on donations and sponsorships to pay rising costs.  Your involvement in this event and your donations fund the costs of fields, umpires, and equipment.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

Go to GHTBL.org/Donate to reserve your spot in the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament & Awards Banquet.

Go to GHTBL.org/Sponsor to become a Tee Sponsor or Presenting Sponsor


The itinerary will be as follows:

1 PM – WELCOME
Have lunch, chat with old teammates, and buy raffle tickets ($20).

2:00 PM – TEE OFF
Foursomes to play a scramble format (groups use the best shot).

7:00 PM – AWARDS BANQUET
Dinner is served.  2017 awards winners are presented with trophies and plaques.  Dinner is included for golfers otherwise the price is $30 per person to attend dinner.

7:45 PM – RAFFLE
Raffle winners to be announced.

Malloves Jewelers Returning to Sponsor Middletown Team

Malloves previously sponsored a franchise from 1980 to 1993.

The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is pleased to welcome back a longtime team sponsor next season. Malloves Jewelers will once again support our Middletown-based franchise.   

From 1980 to 1993, Malloves Jewelers and their owner, Jerome “Buzzy” Levin were a vital part of the GHTBL. Buzzy would later be named to the GHTBL Hall of Fame (Sponsor Division) recognizing his generous support of the league. His son Marc Levin, current owner and President of Malloves Jewelers, graciously agreed to fund the existing Middletown team for their 2019 campaign. Marc is a GHTBL alumni himself who was part of the original Malloves team.

Marc Levin, Malloves Jewelers of Middletown.

Back then, Malloves featured pro-caliber players such as Middletown’s Bob Bruzik who became a shortstop in the Seattle Mariners farm system, John Giudice, outfielder at Eastern Connecticut State University who played in the Colorado Rockies system, Dave Guild of the University of Connecticut, and Chris Thomas, a Stetson University graduate and minor league catcher in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.  Other standout players were pitcher, Todd Mogren, outfielder, Carl Vazquez, third basemen, Pete Daniels and catcher Jay Hickey

Pete Daniels, Dave Guild and Bill Kiley of Malloves Jewelers

In 1988, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Jeff Bagwell played a handful of games for Malloves before turning pro. That same year Bill Denehy, who was famously traded from the New York Mets to the Washington Senators for manager Gil Hodges in 1967, pitched for Malloves Jewelers at the age of 42.

1986 Malloves Jewelers, GHTBL Champions.

After 25 years, the Middletown-based franchise previously known as the Middletown Outlaws will be once again known as Malloves Jewelers. The team will be led by first-time manager and former ECSU baseball captain, Christian Budzik.  The roster will be composed of current and former collegiate players from in and around Middlesex County. The GHTBL Executive Committee is searching for a General Manager to help with the team’s administrative tasks. 

Jeff Bagwell (right) played for Malloves Jewelers in 1987.

About Malloves Jewelers
In 1928, Malloves originally had 5 stores in Middletown, Danbury, Norwich, New London and Fitchburg, MA. The Malloves’ family sold their business to their in-laws, the Levin’s in 1938. When owner Max Levin passed away in the year 1940, he left the store to his brother Joseph Levin, wife Beatrice Levin and their son, Jerome “Buzzy” Levin. Then just 13 years old, Buzzy had begun to work at the family business. 

During Buzzy’s senior year at Woodrow Wilson High School (Class of 1944), his Uncle Joe decided to take a break from the business. It was then that Buzzy decided to commit himself to the family business, even though he was a promising baseball player, who had a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Buzzy pursued business instead of baseball but would not let go of his love for the game.

Buzzy Levin (1926-2017)

Buzzy prided himself on building a business based on hard-work and hand-shakes. Buzzy ran Malloves Jewelers through times of great success as well as great struggle including a fire on December 20, 1972 which completely destroyed the store. Malloves desperately wanted to remain on Main Street so Buzzy moved to a temporary, smaller store for two years before permanently relocating to the current location at 404 Main Street Middletown, Connecticut in 1974.

Marc Levin joined the business side of things in 1983 after graduating from University of Tampa.  In 1992, Marc decided he could be very happy in the jewelry business and took over in 1992.  Marc is entering his 28th year as President of Malloves Jewelers. 

Staff members at Malloves Jewelers of Middletown, Connecticut.

Buzzy Levin passed away in 2017, but the family tradition and his charitable legacy lives on.  The jewelry store is one of the most successful in the region.  Most of the staff has worked at Malloves for over 15 years and the business is now 90 years old. The store’s longevity is a tribute to the fortitude of the Levin family. 

Most recently, the Middletown Town Council named a new 90-ft diamond baseball field at the Pat Kidney Sports Complex in honor of Jerome “Buzzy” Levin. The GHTBL will be hosting the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament & Awards Banquet on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at Blackledge Country Club in memory of Buzzy Levin.

Buzzy Levin Field at Pat Kidney Sports Complex in Middletown, Connecticut.

Click here to attend the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament & Awards Banquet.

GHTBL Alumni Enter Hartford Public Hall of Fame

Among the inductees: Ed Skehan, 100 year old World War II Veteran.

On Sunday, November 4, 2018, a select group of former Hartford Twilight ballplayers were inducted into the Hartford Public High School Hall of Fame. Three of the four inductees are members of the GHTBL Hall of Fame joining three other GHTBL/HPHS Hall of Fame crossovers: MLB-alum Pete Naktenis, Johnny Dione, and Pete Sala.: 

Ed Skehan’s Amateur Baseball Career
– 1935 to 1937, Hartford Public High School.
– 1936, Lincoln Dairy, Hartford Twilight League.
– 1936, Prospect Tavern, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1937 to 1941, St. Lawrence O’Toole, Catholic League.
– 1937, East Hartford Red Sox, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1938, Pope Park Drug, Keene Senior Twilight League.
– 1941, Conrose All-Stars, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1942, Finasts, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1943, Owen’s All-Stars, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1944, Joe Laing’s Spartans, a Hartford Twilight team turned semi-pro club based in Colt Park.
– 1948 to 1950, Hartford Fire Department.
– 1985, Inducted to GHTBL Hall of Fame (Gold Glove Division).

Edward Skehan (100 years old), class of 1937, was an outfielder on conference championship baseball teams at Hartford Public High School. In a game against LaSalette, Skehan led off with a home run and contributed two hits in the 8 to 4 win over the crosstown team. He would have many other multi-hit games and he played any position where HPHS Hall of Fame Coach Jimmy Woodworth needed him. Skehan became a utility player but would later find his niche at first base.

Ed Skehan turns 100 years old, 2018.

After high school, Skehan attended Hartford State Technical College, graduating in 1939. Skehan played amateur baseball for over 20 years in multiple local leagues. Most notable were the Greater Hartford Twilight League and the East Hartford Twilight League. He was a perennial all-star, a .300 hitter, and an outstanding defensive first baseman. 

Life was disrupted with the onset of World War II and soon Skehan was in the U.S. Army. He served from 1943 to 1946 as a Combat Engineer and spent two years in the European Theater.  He is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, a key turning point to facilitating the end of the war in Europe. 

In 1946, Skehan became a full-time employee at the City of Hartford Fire Department after working as a part-time firefighter in previous years. He would serve as a Hartford firefighter for 25 years.  While in the department he played on their highly competitive baseball and bowling teams. 

In 2017, at the age of 99, Ed Skehan was the guest of honor at the GHTBL’s Camp Courant Kids Day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.  The entire Skehan family celebrated their patriarch that day as Ed threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Ed Skehan throws out first pitch at Camp Courant Kids Day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, 2017.

Jack Hines
– On the 1958 Robinson Builders team in the GHTBL.
– Played for the Riley Redlegs in the GHTBL from 1959 to 1961.
– 1962 Ames Construction team in the GHTBL.
– Manager of the 1963 Herb’s Sports Shop team in the GHTBL.   
– Manager of the Hartford entry into the Connecticut Summer Collegiate Baseball League.
– Manager of the 1965 Royal McBee team in the GHTBL. 
– Inducted to GHTBL Hall of Fame in 1988.

Jack Hines, Hartford Public High School class of 1956, played on the varsity baseball and basketball teams.  In baseball, he was catcher and team captain. He caught HPHS Hall of Fame pitcher and minor leaguer, Pete Sala.  Jack was behind the plate in Sala’s 10 inning 1-0 shutout and win over New Britain and their flamethrower Steve Dalkowski.  His leadership helped the Owls to the City championship in 1956. In basketball he was on solid teams that were City Champs his junior and senior years.  

Jack Hines, Riley Redlegs accepts Hartford Twilight League trophy, 1959.

Jack played basketball at Central Connecticut State University after high school.  He began a long career in the Greater Hartford Twilight League, most notably as a manager.  In 1988 he was inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame.

Jack was involved in amateur athletics in Bristol for many years.  He also currently serves as the President of the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame after serving as executive director and a board member. He authored the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame scholar–athlete ceremony that is named in his honor. In 2017 Jack Hines was inducted into the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame. Jack was also a founding Board member of the Hartford Public High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Jack has received the Bristol Boys & Girls Club Humanitarian award and the Bristol Tramps Chuck McCarthy award in 2008. Jack Hines also received an honorary degree from Tunxis Community College, the first the school ever granted. 

Jack Hines of Bristol, Connecticut.

Bill Wishinsky
– Hartford Insurance Group from 1969 to 1974
– Herb’s Sports Shop player-manager from 1975 to 1992.
– Inducted to GHTBL Hall of Fame in 1995.

Bill Wishinsky, class of 1967, was multi sport star, playing baseball and football.  In baseball he was one of Hartford Public’s greatest baseball players ever. He was an outstanding pitcher, but also a great hitter on strong teams in the mid 1960’s.  

In baseball, he lettered all four years. He was the winning pitcher in 19 games which is believed to be a school record. As a freshman he beat East Hartford 1-0 and struck out 8 batters for his first career win. Highlights of his sophomore year were beating Hall for his 5th win of the season and against Bulkeley, in a 7-2 win, he drove in 5 runs. 

His junior year was the winning pitcher in eight games. In a game against East Hartford he was the winning pitcher, had three hits, including a home run.  In a win over New London he had 5 hits, 2 of which were triples.

Bill Wishinksy

Some highlights of his senior year were five more wins as a pitcher.  He pitched 12 shutout innings against Norwich in a 0-0 tie. Bill was the winning pitcher in a 3-1 besting of Bulkeley and had 3 hits and a rbi. In another win over Fitch he collected three hits and drove in five runs. He was the winning pitcher over Bulkeley (4-3) to clinch the city title and tie for the CDC crown. He hit .438 as a senior.

Wishinsky also played football and was a solid fullback and outstanding punter. His punting was key in an 8-6 win over rival Bulkeley in 1965.

Bill Wishinsky served in the military as a Marine.  He had a short stint in the minor leagues before returning home and embarking on a long career in the Greater Hartford Twilight League.  He was a fixture playing and managing for Herbs Sports Shop. He won the league batting title in 1974.  He was inducted in the Twilight League Hall of Fame in 1995.

Bill Wishinsky (born: 1949 – passed away: 2017). 

Hartford Courant article on Bill Wishinsky, 1990.

Jake Fournier

– On the Society for Savings team in the GHTBL from 1991 to 1992
– On the Newman Lincoln-Mercury team in the GHTBL from 1993 to 1996 led by manager, Gene Johnson.
– Player for KGA in the GHTBL from 1999 to 2002 and later player-manager from 2003 to 2004.
– Player-manager of Bill’s Sport Shop in the GHTBL from 2005 to 2007.
– Player-manager of RMR Construction in the GHTBL from 2008 to 2010.
– Played part-time for the Ferguson Waterworks team in the GHTBL from 2012 to 2013. 
– Fournier made his final appearance in 2015 in a GHTBL game with the Ulbrich Clippers.

Jake Fournier, class of 1990, was a versatile athlete playing multiple positions and competing in four sports during his time at Hartford Public. He earned at total of seven varsity letters.

In football, as a senior, Fournier played tight end and led the team in receiving and was also the punter, averaging over 40 yards per kick. He also threw an 82-yard option for a TD to tie South Windsor. Fournier was part of the group that helped transition Hartford Public football from the tough years in the 1980’s back to being a state power in the 1990’s.  Fournier lettered two years in basketball on strong teams that were city and conference champions in 1990 with an 18-4 record.

In baseball, Fournier earned a varsity letter three times and was team captain twice.  He was named All-CCC after his Junior and Senior season.  The HPHS baseball team made the state tournament his Sophomore year.

Jake Fournier hit a grand slam for Newman Lincoln Mercury of the GHTBL, 1994.

Fournier was the valedictorian of his class and was accepted at Yale University. While at Yale he played baseball as a walk on for two years.  In his Senior year, he earned the starting catcher spot and had an outstanding season.  He hit .301 and led the team in walks as Yale won the Ivy League championship.

After college Fournier explored professional baseball opportunities but decided to move to Portland, Oregon.  While there he met his future wife and played in very competitive amateur baseball leagues while on the west coast. He moved home to Connecticut in 1998 and continued his amateur baseball career as a key player for manager and leader in the the GHTBL. 

Fournier has coached his son’s team in Mayor Mike’s Little League in Hartford for the past five years. He has also has coached basketball locally in a travel league. Congratulations to Jake and the entire Fournier family! 

Jake Fournier of Hartford, Connecticut.

Vernon Wins 3rd Straight Playoff Championship

THE O’S DYNASTY CONTINUES.

Jack Ceppetelli and his Vernon Orioles have done it again. For the third consecutive year, Vernon has won the GHTBL Playoff Tournament. At Trinity College on Sunday, August 12th, Vernon toppled Rainbow Graphics in the final championship round with two wins: 3-1 and 7-1.  Strong pitching by Seth Sypniak and Matt Purnell overmatched the opposition while a barrage of hits came from the Dan Trubia and Tony Trubia

Earlier this year, Vernon also captured their sixth straight Regular Season title by finishing first in the standings. The franchise has transformed into a veritable dynasty in recent years. Solid defense and tough pitching have greatly contributed to the O’s success. Congratulations to the Vernon Orioles on their superior ball playing and their long run of success!

Many thanks go to our friends at Trinity College for hosting the league, Dan Saccu, our PA Announcer, and to Bill Holowaty, GHTBL President, Andy Baylock GHTBL Vice President, Tom Abbruzzese, Manager, People’s United Bank and Chris Kehoe, GHTBL Treasurer, for organizing and facilitating the playoff tournament.

GHTBL Seeks 4th Win Versus CTL at New Britain Stadium

All Star Game to be held on Sunday, August 19, 2018.

The 2018 GHTBL vs. CTL All Star Game will be played at New Britain Stadium on Sunday, August 19th at 8 PM under the lights. 

The game will take place immediately following the New Britain Bees vs. Long Island Ducks matchup at 5 PM.

The GHTBL All Star team will be selected at the end of the Regular Season. Representing players will seek to claim victory over the Connecticut Twilight League All Star team for the 4th straight game (4 of 4). The first All Star matchup between the two leagues was in 2015 and since then the game has showcased some of the best local ballplayers in the state of Connecticut.

We look forward to your attendance!
 – Tickets will be $10 per person
 – Free for kids 14 and under

August 3-11: Playoffs at Trinity College

Double-elimination tournament to be hosted at Trinity’s turf baseball facility in Hartford.

Games to be played on August 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, & 11 (if needed) at Trinity College, 300 Summit St, Hartford, CT 06106

– Tickets will be $10 per person at the gate for all fans.
– Players, Managers, League Officials, and Volunteers are free.
– A food truck will be in attendance to serve as concessions. 

Note to players and managers:
To be eligible for playoffs, players need 5 total appearances in 5 separate/individual games as either a position player or a pitcher. For example, 3 pitching appearances in 3 games and 2 appearances at First Base in 2 games equals a total of 5 appearances. 

GHTBL Raises $4,500 for CT Children’s Medical Center

The Hartford Yard Goats and Dunkin’ Donuts Park hosted the Twi-loop’s Charity Series.

The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League achieved the 2nd Annual Charity Series at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on Thursday, June 21 and Friday, June 22. 

8 teams made up of current and former college ballplayers as well as several ex-professionals competed under the lights. 

Adult fans paid $10 at the Main Gate and helped us raise $4,500 to be donated to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.

(Pictured above – L to R: Wes Ulbrich, GHTBL Secretary and Bill Holowaty, GHTBL President present a check to Nicholas Giampetruzzi of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.)

Thank you to all of the friends, family, and fans who came out to the ballpark and we hope to see you again throughout the 2018 season and for next year’s Charity Series.

All the best,

Bill Holowaty
GHTBL President

Jack Patterson & Zac Susi Selected in MLB Draft

GHTBL Alumni matriculate to professional baseball.

Jack Patterson (Suffield, Conn.) – currently pitching for the Vernon Orioles selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 32nd round (968th overall)

High School: Suffield Academy
College: Bryant –After going 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA as a true freshman in 2014, Patterson missed most of 2015 and all of 2016 before returning to the diamond in 2016. What has followed is one of the most impressive two-year runs for a left-handed pitcher in program history.

Patterson went 4-0 with three saves and a 2.90 ERA as a redshirt junior before cementing himself as the best left-handed power pitcher in program history this spring. He became just the second pitcher in program history to strikeout 100+ batters in a single season and allowed just 75 hits in 82 innings on his way to Northeast Conference Pitcher of the Year honors. This spring, he recorded six quality starts, threw Bryant’s first nine-inning complete-game shutout since 2014 and struck out 10+ batters on four occasions.

Jack Patterson, Bryant Baseball, 2018.

Zac Susi (Southington, Conn.) – former catcher for Rainbow Graphics franchise selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 12th round (354th overall).

High School: Southington High
College: University of Connecticut – 
Susi, 21, has been a three-year starter at UConn since graduating Southington High in 2015, where the left-handed slugger was a two-time All-State backstop. He has been UConn’s primary catcher the last three seasons. He started 41 games as a freshman. As a sophomore, he hit .286 and started 56 games and was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List.

In 2017, Zac played 57 games and started 56 behind the plate as the Huskies primary catcher. He hit .286 on the year and was second on the team with 61 hits, nine doubles, two triples, two home runs and was second on the team with 40 RBI. Susi led the team with 27 walks and had a .362 on base percentage. He also had a team-leading 15 RBIs in the seventh inning or later. Behind the plate, he threw out 15 base runners attempting to steal.

Susi earned All-Star status with the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod Baseball League. He played in 23 games and hit .276 with 20 hits, three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs and scored 12 runs. Zac is the son of John Susi, Head Baseball Coach at Western Connecticut State University and

Zac Susi (right), UConn Baseball, 2018.

Season to Feature the Top Venues in Connecticut

GHTBL’s 90th anniversary year to open on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.

President’s Note – Season Preview:

The GHTBL is set to open at 6 PM, Tuesday, May 29th in Vernon, CT at Frank McCoy Stadium at Henry Park in a matchup between 2017 champs, the Vernon Orioles versus the Playoff Tournament runner-ups, the Record-Journal Expos. An Opening Day ceremony with take place before first pitch. 

2018 marks the 90th year of the GHTBL and to celebrate this milestone, 8 franchises will enter the league to play a pure and fast brand of baseball that our league has been known for. GHTBL plays the game of baseball as it was intended to be played; hitting nine batters, using wood bats, and no video replays or pitch clocks.

Current and former college ballplayers as well as a several future and former professional players will take to the field to compete in 24 Regular Season games followed by our annual double elimination Playoff Tournament.

Throughout the 2018 Regular Season and Playoff Tournament our league has scheduled games to be played at best baseball fields in the Greater Hartford area. On Thursday, July 21 and 22 each GHTBL franchise will play a game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford for a special Charity Series fundraiser for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Then the Ulbrich Clippers will host People’s United Bank at New Britain Stadium on Wednesday, July 25th.

From August 2-11, our Playoff Tournament will be held once again at Trinity College on their new turf ballpark. On Sunday, August 18th, we will host Connecticut Twilight League at New Britain Stadium for an All-Star game between our two leagues. 

Our 90th anniversary is turning out to be a highly anticipated year for the GHTBL and we’re pleased to have you be a part of it as a fan, players, parents, family and friends. 

All the best,

Bill Holowaty 
GHTBL President

Rainbow Graphics to Sponsor Oldest Twi Team

The franchise traces back to 1935, joining GHTBL in 1956.

Manchester, Connecticut – Rainbow Graphics of 118 Adams Street in Manchester owned by Fred Kask has become the sponsor of the former Marlborough Braves team who played their 2017 home games at West Road Memorial Field in Marlborough under the direction of their Player-ManagerMark DiTommaso. Mark will lead the newly named Rainbow Graphics ball club into the 2018 GHTBL Regular Season, carrying on an long held tradition.

Not only is the GHTBL in its 90th year of play this season, but this Manchester-based franchise also has its own extensive history:

Before Rainbow GraphicsMarlborough Braves, and Foss Insurance, heavy-hitting player-manager, Gene Johnson led the Newman Lincoln-Mercury squad of the same franchise during the 90’s winning multiple championships. Gene Johnson’s legendary amateur and pro career, however he began his GHTBL career on a team that preceded Newman Lincoln-Mercury called Moriarty Brothers.

In 1933, two local businessmen and brothers, Matthew and Maurice Moriarty established a gasoline/service station in Manchester on the northeast corner of Center and Broad streets. The family was especially interested in the game of baseball and Matthew was known around town as an avid sportsman and fan of the game. In the summer of 1935, Matt sponsored his own team under the name of his business, “Moriarty Brothers” and entered them into the Manchester Twilight League. His club was the fastest, and had the best hitting lineup, therefore earning the nickname the “Comets” to local fans. The franchise then became a semi-pro team during the 1940’s and the roster was comprised of the best ballplayers in the Manchester area during that time. 

Eventually, Moriarty Brothers evolved into a car dealership and service center and their baseball club joined the GHTBL in 1956. The club was a formidable contender for championship titles year after year thanks to some top talent like former minor leaguers Pete SalaLeo VeleasLev Spencer, and of course the one and only “Godfather of the GHTBL” Gene Johnson. The franchise is now the GHTBL’s longest running after 62 years but it’s also the winningest franchise in league history with a combined total of 35 regular season and playoff championships.

Best of luck to the new Rainbow Graphics team who will now carry the banner for this historic twilight franchise!

Expansion Announced: South Windsor Phillies

South Windsor Phillies to be 8th GHTBL franchise.

On behalf of the GHTBL, I am pleased to announce the addition of another franchise into our historic baseball league. The league is excited to welcome a South Windsor franchise back to the GHTBL. A team called Mr. G’s of South Windsor last played twilight baseball in 2006.

Now the league an eighth team in the South Windsor Phillies and will be led by a former professional player and longtime GHTBL player and contributor, Gary Burnham Jr.  Gary’s hails from South Windsor, and is one of the best hitters to ever come out of the Greater Hartford area. 

Burnham is a minor league Hall of Fame inductee (Reading Phillies) and will be general manager of the South Windsor franchise. Gary played AAA baseball in four different organizations before signing to play Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. His brother Brett Burnham also played GHTBL and minor league baseball with the San Diego Padres after an outstanding collegiate career at Auburn University and the University of Connecticut.

Gary Burnham Jr. Reading Phillies, Eastern League (AA).

Manager of the South Windsor Phillies will be Ron Pizzanello. He is a GHTBL alumnus and a former catcher who played professional baseball in Italy. Pizzanello will bring his experience and his passion (big Red Sox fan) for the game to the league. We are lucky to have him.

Ron Pizzanello featured in Hartford Courant, 1971.

League Notes:

1st Annual GHTBL Golf Tournament & Awards Banquet on Sunday, May 6, 2018.

GHTBL All-Stars Top CTL 4-1 at Muzzy Field

GHTBL wins 3 of 3 matchups versus Connecticut Twilight League.

The GHTBL All-Stars shined bright on Monday night, defeating the Connecticut Twilight League All Stars 4-1 in 9 innings. Even though the game was tied 1-1 until the top of the ninth inning, the GHTBL boys of summer eventually claimed victory.

Chris Anselmo (Clippers) drove in the game winning run after Tyler Pina (People’s) was hit by a pitch and stole a base. Then Jeff Criscuolo (Clippers) hit a booming triple off the right field wall scoring Anselmo. Thad Zentek (People’s) had an RBI plating Criscuolo.

Dan Trubia (Vernon) had two hits, starting pitcher Brendan Smith (People’s), relievers James Davitt (Clippers), Travis Salois (Marlborough), and John Martin (Middletown) threw scoreless innings while Tyler Pogmore (Vernon) earned the save.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM THE GAME

Orioles Win Championship, Continue Dominance

Jack Ceppetelli manages O’s to Second Straight Playoff Title.

The defending champion Vernon Orioles capped their playoff run on Saturday night at Trinity College with a 4-0 win over the Record-Journal Expos to take home another trophy. Jared Hyde threw 5 no-hit innings with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts to earn the victory before giving way to Tyler Pogmore, who allowed 2 hits with 1 strikeout in recording the final 6 outs to preserve the shutout.

Vernon took the lead in the bottom of the second inning as Alex Zachary stroked a leadoff ground-rule double to center field, stole third, and came home on a one out sacrifice fly by Wes Hurty. The Orioles added three more runs in the fifth. After a leadoff single by Zach Donahue, a walk to Dan Trubia and a wild pitch put runners at second and third with one out, Jack Halpin lined a single to left scoring two. Paul Dougan followed with a single to left to drive in Halpin.

The win was Vernon’s 5th in 5 days and second straight win over the Expos. The O’s avenged a 2-0 opening round loss, after which the Orioles outscored their opponents 32-2 in their run through the loser’s bracket. The Orioles, who finished the season with a combined record of 28-2. It addition to another Playoff Championship, Vernon won their fifth consecutive Regular Season Title.

Congratulations to the O’s!

R-J Expos Down Ulbrich Clippers in Pitchers’ Duel

GHTBL Playoff Tournament Game #1: Expos 1, Clippers 0.

By Joe Boyle, Special to the Record-Journal

HARTFORD — It was a battle of the aces Thursday night at the Trinity Baseball Complex as Charlie Hesseltine and the Record-Journal Expos nipped Matt DiNello and the Ulbrich Clippers 1-0 in the opening game of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League playoffs.

This was an all-local duel. Hesseltine is from Meriden, DiNello from Southington.

Another Meriden product, A.J. Hendrickson, scored the game’s lone run when he tripled in the sixth inning and scored on Hector Gonzalez’s ground-rule double.

The fifth-seeded Expos advance to play the top-seeded Vernon Orioles on Friday night at 8 p.m. The fourth-seeded Clippers drop to the loser’s bracket and will play again Monday night at 6 p.m.

On Thursday, Hesseltine went the full sevening innings. He struck out six, walked three and allowed five hits.

“I started to get tired there around the fourth,” said Hesseltine. “It’s the playoffs; you push through it. This team has relied on its starters this season. I just stayed out there as long as I could and hit my spots.

“My command felt good,” the left-hander added. “My velocity isn’t there, so spotting is the only way I can succeed now.”

Charlie Hesseltine, Pitcher, Record-Journal Expos.

DiNello also went the full seven innings. He struck out four and allowed just three hits.

“He pitched phenomenal too,” said Hesseltine. “It’s fun to watch and it’s fun to be part of. When you’re part of a pitching duel, it brings up the intensity and puts the pressure on each other.”

From the get-go, DiNello and Hesseltine were dealing. Each guy struck out a pair in the first inning to take command of the strike zone and show each team that this one would come down to which ever pitcher made the first mistake.

Ulbrich’s Chris Anselmo did lead off the bottom of the first with a second, but ended up being stranded at second.

DiNello looked to be the commanding pitcher in the battle. His fastball was working well and he owned the strike zone. The Expos didn’t get their first hit until the third inning: a lead-off single from Matt Fusco. Fusco was erased on a fielder’s choice and a runner never left first base in the inning for the Expos.

DiNello also threw just three pitches in the fifth inning. Each R-J hitter grounded out.

“It was unexpected to see zeros on the board until the sixth,” said Hessltine. “Our team has been hitting very well this season and has consistently in past years, which is good for our starting pitchers. Maybe it was playoff jitters for some of the guys.”

Nick Landell, Shortstop, Ulbrich Clippers.

For a while, it really didn’t look like either team was going to score a run. Fortunately for the Expos, whose lack of pitching depth would have probably been their downfall in an extended game, they figured out DiNello in the top of the sixth.

With one out, Hendrickson cranked a sure double out to right-center, where an Ulbrich outfielder struggled to play it off a good hop. Hendrickson slid head-first safely into third.

At third base with just one out, there was a good chance Hendrickson would score if the next batter, Gonzalez, put the ball in play. Gonzalez did one better. He lined a deep drive to left-center that one hopped the wall, bounced off the flag pole and sent Gonzalez to second for a ground-rule double and the only RBI of the game.

From there, some pressure was taken off of Hesseltine’s shoulders. The sixth and seventh innings were no issue for Hesseltine, who allowed just one baserunner the rest of the way.

The Expos were saved thanks to Hesseltine and just two key hits.

“It was a big weight off my shoulder,” said Hesseltine. “Seven is good enough for me.”

Orioles Win 5th Straight Regular Season Title

The Vernon Orioles had a near perfect season.

The Vernon Orioles won their fifth consecutive Regular Season Title. 2017 was one of Vernon’s best years ever and one of the most dominating in GHTBL history. Stellar pitching and plenty of slugging led this Orioles team. Many congratulations to their longtime Manager, Jack Ceppetelli and veterans such as Nick Roy and Dan Trubia – both near the top of several batting categories this season. The Orioles enter the 2017 Playoff Tournament with a bye as the #1 seed. They will face the winner of the #4 seed Ulbrich Clippers vs. #5 seed Record-Journal Expos on 8 PM, Friday, August 4th at Trinity College.

Tony Trubia and Dan Trubia of the Vernon Orioles

New Dates Announced for GHTBL Playoffs

August 3-11: 7-team double-elimination tournament.

Due to plenty of rainouts this summer, the 2017 GHTBL Playoff Tournament has been pushed back a few days to begin at 6 PM, Thursday, August 3.

The new turf ballpark at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, will be the perfect central location. It provides lights, seating for fans, as well as other modern amenities. The Fuego Picante food truck will serve as concessions.

This is the first time our postseason will be played in Hartford since the 70’s when the GHTBL playoffs were hosted at Dillon Stadium. As is tradition, the team who finishes first in the Regular Season will receive a First Round “bye” and will face the winner of the 4 vs. 5 seed (Game #1 of the Tournament). 

We hope to see you at the ballpark!

Murren Family Field at DiBenedetto Stadium at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, 2017.

President Holowaty Featured by Hartford Courant

Jeff Jacobs: Hall of Fame Coach Holowaty fights illness and gives back.

By Jeff Jacobs – Contact Reporter

The calls had been coming for a few years, and Bill Holowaty couldn’t say yes. His baseball spirit was willing. His body wasn’t.

Holowaty won four national championships and 1,404 games before he stepped down in 2013 after 45 years as coach at Eastern Connecticut. Becoming president of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League seemed perfect for a septuagenarian with baseball in his DNA, baseball in his blood.

The problem was this: Holowaty’s DNA isn’t the same. His blood type isn’t the same.

That’s what happens with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. That’s what happens when your body that had carried you through the third most victories in Division III history no longer could make enough healthy blood cells. In short, Holowaty had bone marrow failure and needed a stem cell transplant last June 23 that changed his DNA and blood type from O to A. Otherwise, he wasn’t going to be around for long.

“I’m celebrating my first birthday,” Holowaty said recently. “June 23, my new birthday.”

Fortunately, Type A loves baseball, too.

So Holowaty said yes this past winter to becoming president of the GHTBL, the amateur wood-bat league now in its 88th year. Over the decades, it is a league that has produced a large number of major leaguers, including 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Bagwell. It also is a league that has had to fight softball, other baseball leagues and the evolution of modern sports interest to keep its place on the map.

Bill Holowaty, GHTBL President talks about his coaching career and leading the GHTBL, 2017.

The first thing Holowaty did was bring together the managers for a couple of meetings at his house.

“I was extremely impressed with their enthusiasm and their desire to make the league better,” Holowaty said. “I needed that. They motivated me. Look, I’m not going to change the world and make it the best league in the United States, etc. I told them I’ll try to help. I just love to watch baseball and see it played the right way.”

Holowaty, who played basketball at UConn, played for Wally Widholm on the playoff champion Hamilton Standard team in the summer of 1966. His sons played in the GHTBL, too.

“Wally taught me how to win, how to play the game of baseball,” Holowaty said. “Later on, my son came to me and he said, ‘Dad, I played in wood-bat leagues and played all over the place. I had my best experience playing for Gene Johnson this past summer.’ Winning was important, not showing off. I loved that.”

There was no way Holowaty could do this by himself. He surrounded himself with a strong executive committee that includes vice presidents Bill DePascale, Ed Slegeski and former UConn coach Andy Baylock.

“I’ve known Billy forever, since the ’60s,” said Baylock, who played two summers in the GHTBL. “He has had a lot health problems, but this is something he can put his heart into. He called and asked me to be a vice president. I said, ‘Billy, will this make you happy if I join?’ He said yes. I told him, ‘I’ll be with you.’ Gene Johnson, who was such a mainstay in the league, died [in November 2014] and I felt this would be a good way to give back to the league and Gene.”

The two state baseball legends obviously add recognition to the league. Yet it had to be more than that.

There is nothing worse, Holowaty said, than playing on a lousy field. Trinity College has a beautiful new facility. The league secured it for the playoffs. The teams are going to play throughout July 9 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Holowaty, convinced the job of running a team is too big for one guy, wants each team to have a general manager. There were a couple of new teams added this year. There were sponsorships found. Holowaty also wants each team to have a mentor or two. On opening day, Holowaty and Baylock talked to the players about playing the game smart, aggressively, hustling, showing up on time. Little things that can become big things, like coaches wearing protective helmets at first and third base.

They’ve gone to games at various sites.

“Not to be a cop,” Baylock said, “but to try to make sure things look good.”

“We’re not out there second-guessing managers,” Holowaty said. “But a lot of great players have played in the league over nearly 90 years. I don’t want a beer league. Baseball is one of the hardest games to teach and play. We’ve got a good league and want to make it better, a nice, competitive league where the guys enjoy themselves and learn the right way to play.”

Those words came over the phone from Omaha a couple of weekends ago. He was out there for the College World Series. Holowaty is on the board of the American Baseball Coaches Association, its past president. This was a big trip for Holowaty.

Andy Baylock, GHTBL Vice President.

“I couldn’t go on an airplane for a year, or go out to eat,” he said. “I had to wear a mask and gloves on the plane. The doctor told me I could go but have to be careful. My daughter [Jennifer] came with me to give my wife [Jan] four days’ vacation.

“My wife has been taking care of me. Thank God for her.”

In 2015, he was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. It was in August of that year that Holowaty, after undergoing knee surgery, was told his blood cell counts had been dropping. He consulted a hematologist. He would have a bone marrow test late in 2015. Holowaty would need a stem cell transplant or else — to use his words — “I wasn’t going to be around long, maybe a year.” With plans to spend the winter in Florida, he would go to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. There he began his treatment before returning to Connecticut.

A match in Germany, a young man, was found for Holowaty. On June 17, 2016, he went to the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston. For nearly a week he underwent chemotherapy for six hours a day to kill his old blood cells. The stem cells were flown overnight from Germany and the next day, June 23, Holowaty was receiving a transplant.

There would be more chemo. The fight has been hard. His immune system had to start from scratch. He must be ultra-careful to avoid germs, mold, etc., thus the gloves and the mask.

Holowaty went through his problems like he was reading a lineup card. He had pneumonia. A blood vessel broke when he had a lung biopsy. He had some blood clots in his legs and lung that took months to be rid of. His heart went out of rhythm. He had an aneurysm in his stomach. The man always was a tough coach and now, physically, mentally, spiritually, he has been called on to be even tougher.

Andy Baylock and Bill Holowaty

Jan drives Bill up to Boston once or twice a week.

“They take my blood and see where I am with red and white blood cells,” Holowaty said. “You get new blood. The remaining old blood tries to fight off the new blood.

“You feel good. You want to feel good. You just can’t feel good. You go to bed, get a night’s sleep and wake up tired. I’ll feel great and then last week I had a hard time walking across the room. It’s exhausting. It’s not painful. I’m fighting it. I could never do this alone.”

He has found a source of inspiration in his former ECSU assistant coach Ron Jones.

“Ron has had the same thing,” Holowaty said. “He started calling me up and telling me how to prepare myself, helping me get through this. Here’s the thing — he has called me every day since last June. We just talked today. He has had a tough time. Last October, he had pacemaker put in, and he’s doing well now.

“Think about that. He calls me every single day.”

That’s what great baseball guys do. They take care of each other.

Holwaty paused for a second on the phone.

“The Twilight League,” he said softly, “this is my way of giving back to the game I love.”

Bill Holowaty, ECSU baseball coach for 45 years, is now heading up the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League.

Playoffs at Trinity College Sponsored by Brialee

Brialee Family Campground is operated by former minor leaguer and GHTBL player, Brian Specyalski.

The GHTBL is proud to announce a special donation from our new 2017 Playoff Tournament Sponsor, Brialee Family Camping & Cabin Rentals, Inc.

Brialee is a family owned and operated business in Ashford, Connecticut. Former Hartford Twilight outfielder, Eastern Connecticut graduate and Minor Leaguer in the California Angels organization, Brian Specyalski is the managing family member of Brialee. Brian gave generously to the league that helped him to develop as a young man.

Brian Specyalski and Andy Baylock

The GHTBL is grateful to the entire Specyalski family for their generous contribution. The league will proudly represent the wonderful place that is Brialee Family Camping & Cabin Rentals!

Visit www.Brialee.com to learn more.

As previously announced, Trinity College’s new baseball facility will be the venue for the 2017 GHTBL Playoff Tournament. Trinity has erected a spectacular turf field with a clay pitcher’s mound, stadium lighting and large dugouts. The venue will be great place to watch a playoff game.

President Holowaty and the entire GHTBL Executive Committee is ecstatic about this opportunity to showcase the league. The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is going back to its roots in the City of Hartford.

We’ll see you at the ballpark for our double-elimination playoff tournament from August 3-13 (final date subject to change based on tournament outcomes).

Pros Playing Hartford Twilight Ball This Season

These GHTBL players have professional baseball experience.

Matt Purnell

Team: Vernon Orioles
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right
6-2, 210lb (188cm, 95kg)
Born: April 8, 1991 (Age: 26-064d)
School: Eastern Connecticut State University (Willimantic, CT

Kevin Rival

Team: Ulbrich Clippers
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right
6-2, 220lb (188cm, 95kg)
Born: November 27, 1979 (Age: 37-196d) in New Britain, CT
School: Central Connecticut State University (New Britain, CT)

Tyler McIntyre

Team: Ulbrich Clippers
Positions: First Baseman and Rightfielder
Bats: Left  •  Throws: Right
6-4, 220lb (193cm, 99kg)
Born: April 10, 1990 (Age: 27-062d)
School: Central Connecticut State University (New Britain, CT)

James Kukucka

Team: Ulbrich Clippers
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right
5-11, 225lb (180cm, 97kg)
Born: January 23, 1987 (Age: 30-139d)
School: Eastern Connecticut State University (Willimantic, CT)

John Kubachka

Team: People’s United Bank
Position:
 First Baseman
Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right
6-5, 240lb (196cm, 113kg)
Born: May 25, 1979 (Age: 38-017d)
School: Eastern Connecticut State University (Willimantic, CT)

Kevin Jefferis

Team: Marlborough Braves
Position:
 Pitcher
Bats: Right  •  Throws: Right
6-1, 195lb (185cm, 88kg)
Born: April 23, 1991 (Age: 26-049d)
School: Western New England College (Springfield, MA)

Charlie Hesseltine

Team: Record-Journal Expos
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Left  •  Throws: Left
5-11, 180lb (180cm, 81kg)
Born: January 19, 1985 (Age: 32-143d) in Meriden, CT
Draft: Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 42nd round of the 2003 MLB June Amateur Draft from Francis T Maloney HS (Meriden, CT).
High School: Francis T Maloney HS (Meriden, CT)

Kevin Putkonen

Team: East Hartford Jets
Bats: Left  •  Throws: Left
6-0, 205lb (183cm, 92kg)
Born: April 4, 1988 (Age: 29-068d)
High School: South Windsor High School

Remembering Buzzy Levin, GHTBL Hall of Famer

Buzzy Levin, Malloves Jewelers of Middletown owner, was a generous GHTBL sponsor.

Jerome “Buzzy” Levin, 90, passed away in the early hours of June 2, 2017. His last days were spent in his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, surrounded by his loving family, friends and the wonderful staff on the 7th floor of Middlesex Hospital. Buzzy was born on September 24, 1926, in Middletown where he lived alongside his beautiful wife of nearly 60 years, Harriet Levin. Buzzy believed in family and community above all from the very beginning.

Buzzy Levin

After enduring the loss of his father, Max Levin, at the young age of 13 and passing up the opportunity to play professional baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Buzzy took over the family business, Malloves Jewelers, from his mother, Beatrice Levin and his uncle, Joseph Levine, in 1957. Buzzy served as President of the business until 1992, when he handed over the reins to his son, Marc Levin. During his years of retirement in Florida, the Malloves staff, whom Buzzy thought of as family, welcomed him back with open arms to work in the store throughout the summer and Christmas holidays.

Whether Buzzy was volunteering as the bat boy for the Wesleyan baseball team under Jack Blott, playing semi-pro ball in the starting lineup for the Middletown Giants from 1941 until 1951, or earning himself one of three lifetime hole-in-ones on the golf course, Buzzy was happiest when a ball, bat and club were within reach. In 1948, alongside Bernie O’Rourke, Buzzy founded the Middletown Chapter of Little League baseball. Within 2 years of starting the first chapter in New England, they had 160 chapters up and running throughout the area.

Marc Levin & Buzzy Levin (right)

Buzzy served as the President of the Middletown Chapter for 7 years and the Little League District 9 Commissioner for 33 years, instituting a rule at both the local and national level which stated that every player on a team had to bat once and complete a full inning on the field, ensuring that all kids were given a fair chance to play the game he loved most. Buzzy was a lifetime member of the Middletown Little League Association.

After sponsoring a Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League from 1980 until 1993, Buzzy went on to help college players in the New England area compete on the same level as the players in the Cape Cod League by organizing the first New England Collegiate Baseball League and establishing a franchise in Middletown, for which he served as the General Manager for 8 years. Buzzy was the driving force behind the installation of lights at Palmer Field.

Buzzy proudly served on the Middletown Common Council from 1964 until 1975, playing a vocal role in every commission and committee during his 6 terms in office. He was a lifelong member of Congregation Adath Israel Synagogue, the same synagogue his father rebuilt in 1929, where he followed in his father’s footsteps by assuming the role of President from 1969 to 1971.

Malloves Jewelers, 1990.

He was also a member of the Middletown Elks, the Kiwanis Club, the B’Nai B’rith, the Middletown Jaycees, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, the Connecticut Retail Jewelers Association (Vice President), the Middletown Transit Authority, the Middletown Park and Recreation Board (Chairman for 9 years), the Russell Library Building Committee and the Middletown High School Building Committee. In addition, he served as Corporator of both Middlesex Hospital and Liberty Bank, and sat on the Board of Home Bank. As someone who valued the importance of old friendships, Buzzy was instrumental in coordinating the Woodrow Wilson High School Class of 1944 reunions for over 65 years.

He was inducted into the Greater Hartford Twilight League Hall of Fame in 1987 for his contributions as a generous sponsor of the Malloves Jewelers franchise for 14 years. Buzzy was also inducted into the Xavier Hall of Honors in 1994, and the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. He received the Connecticut Sports Writers Good Guy Award in 1988, the Middlesex County Chamber Distinguished Citizen Award in 1996, and the NECBL Executive of the Year Award in 2001.

Malloves Jewelers baseball team, GHTBL

Upon retiring to Florida in 1992, Buzzy served as President of the Foxhollow Condominium Association and was elected to a seat on the Foxfire Country Club Board. Buzzy will be forever missed and his legacy carried on by his wife, Harriet, his children, Marc (Judith) Levin and Faith (Craig) Irwin, his grandchildren, Marissa and Billy Irwin, his three grand dogs, Maggie, Daisy and Willow, and his beloved Malloves family.

Source: Jerome Levin Obituary (1926 – 2017) – Middletown, CT