Tag: holowaty

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


Celebrating the Life of Ray Gliha, National Champion

Recently on August 14, 2023, a former player of the GHTBL, Raymond E. Gliha passed away peacefully at his home in Manchester, Connecticut. Gliha was born December 23, 1959, and was a lifelong Manchester resident. He 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

Ray Gliha was passionate about baseball and he excelled on the diamond for many teams. He played for Manchester High School and Manchester American Legion Post 102 before going on to Eastern Connecticut State College. He had a batting average of .375 as a walk-on Freshman in 1979 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 one 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.
Ray Gliha (left) homers for 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.

Hartford Courant excerpt, June 10, 1982.

Ray 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.

Newspaper advertisement for Moriarty Brothers, 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.

Moriarty Brothers Wins Twilight 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.

Hartford All-Timer, Basilio Ortiz, ECSU Warrior Turned Professional

Basilio “Bo” Ortiz was a sensational outfielder who had power, speed, arm strength and defensive ability. He grew up on Charter Oak Terrace in Hartford, Connecticut, and attended Bulkeley High School. In his junior year, Ortiz led the Maroons in batting (.467), RBI (17), home runs (3) and stolen bases (8). He had similar numbers in his senior year as captain of the team and became the first Bulkeley baseball player to achieve All-State honors. By the end high school, his coach, Pete Kokinis called Ortiz, “One of the best to ever wear a Bulkeley baseball uniform.”

Basilio Oritz, Bulkeley High School, 1988.
Ortiz steals second, 1988.
Class LL All-State Team, 1988.

Ortiz was drafted out of high school by the San Francisco Giants in the 40th round of the 1988 MLB June Amateur Draft. Instead of signing, he accepted a scholarship to Eastern Connecticut State University. After his freshman year at ECSU, Ortiz made waves in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League for the Newington Capitols. Ortiz batted .333 during the 1998 twilight league season and earned the Rookie of the Year award.

Hartford Courant features Ortiz, March 28, 1990.

As a sophomore leadoff hitter in 1990, Ortiz batted a team-high .370 in postseason play. He helped the Warriors win seven straight tournament games for the 1990 NCAA Division-III national title. That year, he batted .434 with 76 hits, 68 runs, 11 home runs, 41 RBI and 134 total bases en route to 1st team Division-III All-America laurels. In the summer, Ortiz suited up for the Orleans Cardinals of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Basilio Ortiz, Eastern Connecticut State University, 1991.
Basilio Ortiz, Eastern Connecticut State University, 1991.

Then, as a junior at ECSU, the 5’11”, 170-pound Ortiz batted .448 with 78 hits, 12 home runs, 62 RBI, 62 runs and 138 total bases. Again he was awarded the NCAA Division-III National Player of the Year. Ortiz was also recognized as one of five New England Division-III Athletes of the Year. At the conclusion of his college career, head coach Bill Holowaty praised Ortiz as, “the best player we’ve ever had.”

Basilio Ortiz accepts New England College Athletic Conference award, 1991.

Ortiz was selected in the 30th round of the 1991 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Baltimore Orioles. In the summer of 1991, Ortiz had a successful start in the pros. In 56 plate appearances, he hit .307 in rookie ball for the Bluefield Orioles in the Appalachian League. He was quickly promoted to Single-A with the Kane County Cougars in the Midwest League. Ortiz spent the next two years between Single-A on the Frederick Keys and Double-A on Bowie Baysox.

Basilio Ortiz, Bluefield Orioles, 1991.
Basilio Ortiz, Frederick Keys, 1992.
Basilio Ortiz, Frederick Keys, 1993.

The best season of “Bo” Ortiz’s professional career came in 1994 for Bowie Baysox of the Eastern League. He compiled a career high .309 batting average with 10 home runs, 56 RBI and an .860 OPS. Towards the end of the season, Ortiz was traded to the California Angels organization and reported to central Texas, to play for the Midland Angels. In 1996, he was named to the Texas League All-Star team. After an injury-riddled season in 1997 with the Harrisburg Senators of the Montreal Expos organization, Ortiz played his last 60 games as a professional.

Basilio Ortiz, Midland Angels, 1995.
Basilio Ortiz, Midland Angels, 1996.

In 2007, Basilio Ortiz was inducted into the Eastern Connecticut State University Athletics Hall of Fame. Ortiz is regarded as the best outfielder, and among the best position players in program history. Ortiz ranks thirteenth all-time at ECSU with 204 career hits in three years, second all-time in career batting average (.415), first in slugging percentage (.729), fifth in home runs (29) and runs (180), sixth in doubles (43), tied for sixth in stolen bases (63), and seventh in total bases (358).


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

Baseball Bloodlines: The Riemer’s

Over the last 50 years, men of the Riemer family have achieved remarkable baseball success. The story of a father and his two sons begins in New Britain, Connecticut in 1974. A junior at New Britain High School named Mark Riemer was a fleet-footed infielder with a quick bat. Behind Mark, the Hurricanes won the Class AA State Championship. In 1975, New Britain won 30 consecutive games but lost 1-0 to North Haven in the state championship game. Mark was awarded First Team All-State honors. Later that fall, he also earned All-State honors as a linebacker on the football team.

1974 New Britain High School
1974 New Britain High School
1975 New Britain High School

Mark Riemer matriculated to Eastern Connecticut State University where he was a four-year starter on the baseball team under Head Coach Bill Holowaty. Mark helped the Warriors to their first four NCAA Division-III tournaments. He was the first position player in New England Division-III to earn First Team NCAA All-American honors. As a junior right fielder in 1978, he batted .403 with an .803 slugging percentage, led Division-III in hits (73), RBI (59), total bases (146), was second with 14 home runs, and tied for second in doubles (19). Mark holds the Warriors career record for triples (18), is second in total bases (366) and home runs (34), third in RBI (152) and fourth in slugging (.637).

Mark Riemer, GHTBL Batting Champion, 1979.
Hartford Courant excerpt, August 8, 1979.
Mark Riemer, Eastern Connecticut Baseball, 1978.
Mark Riemer, ECSU Hall of Fame

Throughout his baseball career, Mark Riemer also starred in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. At 18 years old, he suited up for the Moriarty Brothers of Manchester, winners of the 1975 league championship. Then he changed teams in 1977 and joined Manager Tom Abbruzzese’s Society for Savings. After winning the GHTBL batting title and another championship season in 1979, Mark signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. As a member of the Carolina League’s Salem Pirates in 1980, he finished second on the team in batting with a .298 average in 416 plate appearances.

Mark Riemer, Marco Polo, GHTBL, 1985.
Hartford Courant, June 24, 1985.

Mark served two years in professional baseball before returning home to Connecticut. He rejoined Society for Savings with whom he won 4 league titles. Afterwards, Mark jumped to the East Hartford Jets franchise from 1985 to 1992. Late in his baseball career he won several National Senior Baseball World Series men’s league tournaments in Phoenix, Arizona alongside GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee, Dave Bidwell. Mark continued to make twilight league appearances until around 2011 as a designated hitter for Tom Abbruzzese’s People’s United Bank franchise. Mark’s nickname is “Trout” because of his love for fishing. He is a father of three children, Matt, Meagan and Mike.

Hartford Courant excerpt, August 19, 1989.
Mark Riemer, East Hartford Jets, GHTBL, 1989.
Mark Riemer breaks up a double play, 1990.

Matt Riemer followed in his father’s footsteps in many respects. After graduating from Ellington High School, Matt took his skills to Eastern Connecticut State University. There he displayed speed and versatility under Head Coach Bill Holowaty, winning a Little East Conference championship in 2007. Matt began his Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League career in 2004 for People’s Bank. He was an effective leadoff hitter who got on base and collected steals at a high rate. Matt led People’s to a league championship in 2006, and regular season titles in 2007, 2008 and 2011. He took the field for the last time in 2013 after eight GHTBL seasons.

Matt Riemer, People’s United Bank, GHTBL, 2009.
People’s Bank wins GHTBL Championship, 2006.
Hartford Courant excerpt, August, 13, 2009.
Matt Riemer People’s United Bank GHTBL, 2011.

Mike Riemer, the youngest of the Riemer men, graduated from the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, class of 2008. Like his father and older brother, Mike played under Bill Holowaty at Eastern Connecticut State University. He transferred to the Warriors from Division-I Central Connecticut State University. In 2011, Mike was primarily a relief pitcher in his first season. Then he became a two-year starter in center field and a heart-of-the-lineup hitter as a junior and senior. In his final collegiate season, he was one of three players to start all 44 games. Mike batted .329 with three home runs, 30 RBI and committed only one error in center field in 2013.

Mike Riemer, People’s United Bank, 2010.
Riemer’s Reds win at Doubleday Field, 2010.
Mike Riemer, Pitcher/Outfielder, 2011.
Riemer’ Reds win 3rd straight tournament in Cooperstown, New York, 2012.

During summer months, Mike Riemer was a valuable member of People’s United Bank team in the GHTBL. The Riemer men also organized an amateur squad that won three straight tournaments in Cooperstown, New York in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Men’s league experience helped Mike develop into a more complete player and in 2014, he signed to play professional baseball in Germany. The 6-foot-2 and 220 pound, 24 year old joined the Tübingen Hawks of the German Baseball and Softball Association (DBV). He landed in Germany after being recruited by Jason Holowaty, Director of Major League Baseball international development operations in Europe and Africa.

Mike Riemer, ECSU Baseball, 2012.
Mike Riemer, ECSU Baseball, 2012.
Mark and Mike Riemer, ECSU Baseball, 2013.
Mike Riemer with his mother Ellen in Germany, 2017.

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.

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. 

Twi-Loop Holds Winter Meeting

League officials prepare for 2019 season.

GHTBL Managers and Executive Committee members met at our winter meeting in East Hartford on a Sunday, January 13th. 

In attendance were Tyler Repoli and Ryan Pandolfi of Rainbow Graphics, Jack Ceppetelli of the Vernon Orioles, Chris Kehoe (Treasurer) and Taylor Kosakowski of the East Hartford Jets, Wes Ulbrich (Secretary) of Ulbrich Steel, Ron Pizzanello of the South Windsor Phillies, Tom Abbruzzese of People’s United Bank, Christian Budzik of Malloves Jewelers and Charlie Hesseltine of the Record-Journal Expos. Bill Holowaty (President) and Andy Baylock (Vice President) presided.

Preparations were made for the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament on Sunday, April 28th at Blackledge Country Club in Hebron, CT.

President Holowaty led talks on team rosters, recruiting, ballparks, umpires, league finances, recent donations, By-laws, and alumni.

The Executive Committee projects a well-organized and improved 2019 season featuring 8 strong franchises. 

Enjoy the off-season, work out and stay warm!

2018 GHTBL Annual Award Winners Announced

Twilight players honored for their standout seasons.

The top GHTBL players and the best team, the Vernon Orioles separated themselves from the competition this season.

Here are the 2018 GHTBL Award Winners:

Frank McCoy Award – Most Valuable Player – Mark DiTommaso, OF, Rainbow Graphics

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

Ray McKenna Award – Player of the Year – Jonathan Walter, OF, Record-Journal Expos

Rev. Thomas Campion Award – Outstanding Playoffs Hitter – Dan Trubia, 3B, Vernon Orioles 

Mike Abbruzzese Award – Outstanding Playoffs Pitcher – Paul Dougan, P, Vernon Orioles 

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

Gene Johnson Award – Regular Season Batting Title – Jonathan Walter, OF, Record-Journal Expos

Ralph Giansanti Sr. Award – Stolen Base Winner – Jonathan Walter, OF, Record-Journal Expos

Jack Repass Award – Gold Glove – Jeff Criscuolo, INF, Ulbrich Clippers

James Gallagher Award – Rookie of the Year – Jake Petrozza, OF, South Windsor Phillies 

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

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

President’s Note:

Our successful 2018 season was a great milestone for the GHTBL. This past summer marked the 90th year of the league as the premier amateur league in Connecticut. The league hosted games at some of the best fields and stadiums in state and matriculated 3 players into the professional ranks. The running tally of GHTBL players who have played professional baseball is now 320.

Next season, the GHTBL will seek to strengthen its current franchises and will explore opportunities for expansion. The league most recently had an Executive Committee meeting and has scheduled another meeting for November 4th at 5 PM in East Hartford. 

– Bill Holowaty, President

Visit our Instagram account @GHTBL for the latest updates and follow our blog “The Bat and Ball” on GHTBL.org for Greater Hartford’s historic baseball stories and tidbits.

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.

Holowaty Named GHTBL President

“Attitude and effort are the keys to a successful life.”
– Bill Holowaty

The GHTBL is proud to announce the appointment of former Eastern Connecticut State University Head Baseball Coach, and 2015 National College Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee, Bill Holowaty of Columbia, Connecticut, to role of League President.

Holowaty is a baseball luminary in the state of Connecticut and a veteran educator of the game. As the winningest coach in the history of New England athletics, Holowaty earned the 11th most wins by a head coach in NCAA baseball history with a 45-year record of 1404-525-7 at ECSU. He led Eastern to four NCAA Division III National Championships and was honored four times as the National Coach of the Year. In addition to winning four national championships, the ECSU Warriors posted a streak of 11 straight 30-win seasons into from 2001 to 2011. Holowaty took the Warriors to the postseason 39 out of 45 seasons, while 14 of those teams advanced to the Division III College World Series.

Bill Holowaty, former Eastern Connecticut State University Head Baseball Coach, 1986.

As a champion of instituting the NCAA Division III Baseball College World Series in the mid-1970s, Holowaty created a new standard for college baseball programs. Holowaty coached in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Chatam Anglers in 1973. He’s a past president of the American Baseball Coaches’ Association (ABCA), a long-time member of the ABCA All-America committee, one of the founders of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), and one of the founders of the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA). Holowaty is also a member of the NEIBA Hall of Fame and the ABCA Hall of Fame.

Holowaty is known as an innovator, motivator, teacher, an expert facilitator, and the ultimate competitor. Though he retired from coaching in 2013, He continues to teach the fundamentals of baseball, operating the Holowaty Baseball Camp for 5-12 year old boys and girls in the Spring and Summer. His baseball values are that of pure brand of baseball. He believes in hard work, hustle and a no-nonsense approach to the game; traits that transfer from success in school, on the field and in life.

Bill Holowaty, National College Baseball Hall of Fame, 2015.

The GHTBL is grateful to Bill Holowaty for “stepping up to the plate” and taking on this leadership role at this time in his life. Over the years, he has been involved with the league various capacities. In 1966 and 1967, a young Bill Holowaty played for the Connecticut Huskies in the springtime and for the Hartford Twilight during the summer. He was a first baseman for the Hamilton Standard team under player-manager, GHTBL Hall of Fame Inductee, and former major leaguer, Wally Widholm. Holowaty attributes much of his coaching success to what he learned about the game of baseball from two his summers in the GHTBL and from mentors like Widholm.

Thereafter, Holowaty would go on to a historic coaching career. but he continued to recruit from and send players to the GHTBL for more than 45 years. Many current GHTBL players were coached by Holowaty at ESCU or were participants in his baseball camps. As the new League President, Bill Holowaty brings invaluable connections, experience, new ideas, tradition, organization, a highly motivating spirit to the GHTBL as we enter our88th season in May of 2017.

GHTBL Meeting at the Holowaty residence.