Tag: twilight

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.

Jim Schult Named to D3 Team of the Decade

Schult, an Eastern Connecticut Baseball Alum and GHTBL Champion.

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – The No. 5 stitched to Jim Schult’s uniform as a four-year member of the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball program may very well have stood for ‘5-tool’, as in ‘complete’ player.

This past week, Schult — voted the Division III National Player-of-the-Year in 2011 — represents Eastern on D3baseball.com‘s second all-decade team this century, the 2010s All-Decade Team.

An honorable mention selection at the utility position, the Wappingers Falls, NY native was one of 82 players named to the team, which also includes first, second and third teams which were voted upon by D3baseball.com staff and their colleagues at The Podcast About Division III Baseball. Players had to have played at least two seasons to be eligible for consideration in the decade.

“It’s definitely a big honor to be on this (all-decade) team… it’s nice to be thought of,” admitted Schult, when reached by telephone Friday afternoon.

Eastern, a four-time NCAA Division III national champion, was represented on the first all-decade team of the century (released in 2010) by three players: first-teamers Ryan DiPietro, a left-handed pitcher, and utility player Shawn Gilblair and second-teamer Dwight Wildman, an outfielder.

During their careers, all four of Eastern’s all-decade selections were named Player or Pitcher-of-the-Year by either the American Baseball Coaches’ Association (ABCA) or National College Association (NCBWA), or both. Schult was the only one of the four named to both.

Schult (right) in an elimination game of the 2009 NCAA New England Regionals at the Eastern Baseball Stadium, with battery mate Steve Cammuso stifled Husson University to 7 hits and the Warriors advanced to the championship. The pair also combined for 5 hits, 4 runs scored and 3 runs. Schult’s  2-out HR set the tempo for the 18-3 win.

In his four-year career (2008-11) as a right-handed pitcher, outfielder and DH, the six-foot, 200-pound Schult led the Warriors to four straight NCAA tournaments, at least a share of two Little East Conference regular-season championships and one LEC tournament title, and a 72.7 winning percentage. He batted third in the order in each of his final three years — playing primarily right field — until moving to DH as a senior tri-captain.

As a first-team ABCA All-America and National Player-of-the-Year in 2011, Schult set personal career-highs and led his team in most every statistical category. At the plate, he batted .392 with 76 hits (currently tied for tenth all-time in a season) while starting all 47 games for the 34-13 Warriors. He stole 20 of 21 bases that year with 138 total bases (tied for fifth all-time in a season) and 64 RBI (sixth) and his combined total of 120 RBI and runs scored currently equals the sixth-most in a season in program history. On the mound, he was 10-1 with 92 strikeouts in 87 innings with a 3.31 ERA., his only loss coming in one of his two relief appearances.

During that final season, Schult was credited with four of the staff’s five complete games, his final one coming in a five-hitter with 12 strikeouts in a 2-0 win – the only shutout of his career — over the College of Brockport in the NCAA regional tournament opener in the final pitching appearance of his career. It was that game, where he walked five batters and hit one and stranded ten runners – seven in scoring position —  that Schult feels defined his career. “I think if you had to sum me up in a single game, I think that game would probably tell you what you needed to know about me. I didn’t have great stuff that day — I think I threw about 165 pitches — but I was able to get out of (jams nearly every inning).”

A third baseman at John Jay High School in Hopewell Junction, New York, Jim Schult worked hard to make himself a solid right fielder at Eastern, 2017.

In his career, Schult threw complete games in both of his regional tournament starts, also going the distance in an elimination-game win against Husson University in the 2009 regional that moved the Warriors to within a win of advancing into the championship round.

In a 20-13 win over the University of Chicago in Chandler, AZ as a sophomore in 2009, he became the sixth player in program history to hit for the cycle (tripling in the ninth inning to complete the feat), tying program game records in the process with six hits and six runs scored.

A pitcher and third baseman (shortstop was taken by future major league Gold Glover Joe Panik) in high school, Schult was sent to right field on the first day of his first fall season at Eastern to replace a teammate who failed to appear. In that game, hit a home run in his first fall at-bat, and he spent the majority of his career – when not pitching — at that position. After struggling defensively as a freshman, he spent the summer playing center field in a local league at home, honing his craft under the tutelage of Negro League legend Willie Mack. He committed only one outfield error as a sophomore and subsequently led the team in outfield assists each season thereafter.

Schult says that he is most proud of his teams’ three LEC titles and the Warriors’ prodigious power-hitting teams of 2009 and 2010. The 2009 team batted an astounding .355, won its first 13 games, was ranked No. 1 nationally for three consecutive weeks, carried a 14-game hitting streak into the NCAA tournament, and finished as the national leader in doubles and was second in runs and hits. Those two teams set season records in six offensive categories that remain today.

“We stepped on the field with so much confidence, knowing that we were going to do whatever we needed to do to win that game from an offensive standpoint,” Schult recalls of his sophomore and junior seasons.  

A .371 career hitter, Schult today ranks among the program’s all-time career Top Ten in 12 offensive categories, including second in doubles (63), third in total bases (417) and fourth in runs (199) and RBI (189). As a pitcher, he fell one win shy of being one of 13 hurlers in program history with 20 career wins. He finished 19-2 with two saves and a 3.24 ERA in 203.0 innings. Among pitchers with a minimum of ten career decisions, his career winning percentage of 90.5 ranks sixth all-time.

Schult says that he turned down several Division I offers out of high school because Eastern afforded him the opportunity to play every day, as well as pitch.

While freshmen rarely cracked the starting lineup on veteran teams stocked with All-America players under Hall of Fame coach Bill Holowaty, Schult was an exception. Appearing in 40 of 49 games in 2008, he batted .301 with 23 RBI and 30 runs scored, then blossomed as a sophomore by batting .388 with 122 total bases and 58 runs score. “I always thought of  myself as a competitor and  somebody who would rise to that level of competition,” says Schult of his fast start.

Schult believes that a series of adjustments throughout his career were the keys to his success, from learning the nuances of the outfield and being able to hit a curveball after his freshman year, to mastering the art of opposite-field hitting and to learning to ‘pull the trigger’ early in the count as his career progressed. “Every time something got exposed with me, I spent the summer and the winter working on that weakness,” he recalls. “I think, really what it was, was just being willing to learn.”

Over his final three seasons, Jim Schult stole 35 of 37 bases, 20 coming in 21 tries in 2011.

In addition to his baseball accomplishments, Schult was a two-time CoSIDA Academic District I selection and Eastern Outstanding Scholar-Athlete qualifier in both years of eligibility and LEC All-Academic qualifier in all three seasons of eligibility.

Schult grew up in a baseball family, with his grandfather, Art (Dutch) Schult, enjoying a five-year MLB playing career with four organizations in the 1950s and 60s as a 1949 New York Yankees signee, and his father, Jim, being a 33rd-round MLB draft pick of the Texas Rangers as a power-hitting outfielder in 1981. Schult’s younger brother, Jeff, played four seasons at Western New England University as a centerfielder and DH, earning all-region and all-conference honors before graduating in 2014. Like Jim, he was also a CoSIDA academic all-district selection.

After earning his B.S. Degree in Business Administration from Eastern in 2011, Schult spent three summers playing in independent leagues and a winter season as one of the top pitchers in the Australian Baseball League with the Brisbane Bandits before retiring after tearing his UCL and undergoing Tommy John surgery.  In the summer of 2019, he came out of retirement at the request of Holowaty – the current president of the Greater Hartford Twilight League–  to resuscitate a struggling East Hartford franchise. As a player-coach, he helped lead the Jets to the GHTL championship this past summer.

In 2018, Schult earned a B.S. Degree in Accounting from Marist College and is employed at Blum Shapiro as a senior consultant, and resides in Simsbury.

Jim Schult (center) and his teammates had plenty to celebrate after he scored the winning run when the East Hartford Jets won the GHTBL title this past summer.

ARTICLE FROM GOWARRIORSATHLETICS.COM

Barry Chasen Ballpark in Windsor

FORMER HIGH SCHOOL COACH AND GHTBL HALL OF FAMER EARNS A GREAT HONOR.

Reposted article from Journal Inquirer by Joe Chaisson 

WINDSOR — It was a joyous occasion Saturday as town officials, current and former players and coaches, and family and friends honored Barry Chasen, dedicating the ballpark outside the high school in his honor.

Chasen, who turns 73 this month, was the head coach of the high school’s baseball team from 1975 to 2003 while also teaching social studies for 36 years.

The ceremony was scheduled to take place in March during the season, head coach Joe Serfass said, but had to be rescheduled because of the pandemic. The afternoon, however, offered warm baseball-type weather.

Many of the former coaches and friends in attendance called Chasen a “walking encyclopedia” for baseball. During his speech, Chasen rarely spoke of himself, but instead attributed his coaching career to a long list of coaches he worked with during his career. Chasen concluded the speech by thanking his wife, Joanne, and son, Matthew, for all their support.

Chasen led the school to a state championship title in 1979 and again in 1991.

Before the ceremony began, Chasen said he was incredibly pleased to be recognized by the town and the high school.

Barry Chasen addresses the media at Barry Chasen Ballpark outside the high school, 2020.

“I feel really good about this. Obviously, it’s been tough the last eight months, but the turnout today has been really nice. It’s a nice tribute and certainly I feel very honored to see my name up there on the sign,” Chasen said.

“I didn’t go into coaching for that though, and you don’t get here by yourself, so it’s thanks to all the people who have helped me out between players, coaches, administrators, town people, parents, and many more.

James Apicelli, who coached with Chasen from 1998 to 2003, said Chasen was the ultimate coach.

“I think the best part about coaching with Barry was we would always come back after the game, we’d go into the coaches office, and we’d sit down for hours after games and go over in-game details. It wasn’t to criticize or anything, we would look at every decision that was made during the game and he’d ask if we should have done things differently.”

Mayor Don Trinks said Chasen is much more than just a baseball coach.

“When you think about his tenure as a coach and all the lives he’s impacted and the success of young people that he helped mold and create — he’s really contributed so much to the town and certainly in many other ways than just baseball,” Trinks said.

Trinks credited Chasen with inspiring him to get involved with politics after Chasen was his teacher during the Jimmy Carter presidency.

“He really gave me a peek into the political and government world,” Trinks said. “I can’t go as far as to say he made me go into government, but he certainly had an impact on that decision so I imagine he’s impacted a lot of other students in the past the same way.”

Serfass, who’s been with the school since 2010, said he was happy to see the field finally completed with the addition of the new sign.

“Unfortunately, when I came here the field was one of the worst in the state,” Serfass said. “There were no dugouts, no fencing, no scoreboard, no press box, and the infield was in bad shape. We finally renovated it about six years ago and redid everything and it’s an honor to have Coach Chasen on the sign.”

Signage at Barry Chasen Ballpark, 2020.


Click Here to Watch the Barry Chasen Ballpark News Story by NBC Connecticut / Xfinity Sportsdesk on Instagram.

GHTBL East Hartford Jets 2020 Playoff Champions

East Hartford Jets, 2020 Champions

Jets win 1st playoff tournament in franchise history.

After 50 years, the East Hartford Jets finally achieved their first GHTBL Playoff Championship. The Jets have competed in the twilight league since 1970. This year, Player-Manager Taylor Kosakowski led the Jets to the Twi-loop’s ultimate prize at their home turf, McKenna Field in East Hartford.

A walk-off extra base hit from Bryant University outfiedler,  Jarod Dalrymple scored former Eastern Connecticut State University star Jimmy Schult  from first base. The Jets bested the Vernon Orioles 3 to 2. The Orioles were tournament favorites and a veritable dynasty in recent years. Manager Jack Ceppetelli’s O’s previously won 4 consecutive playoff championships. 

Congratulations to all East Hartford Jets players, coaches, fans and family! 

We will see if the Jets could repeat and soar in the summer of 2021.

Corey Plasky, Second Baseman, East Hartford Jets strides to reach base.

Read the full championship recap by the Journal Inquirer:
https://www.journalinquirer.com/sports/dalrymple-provides-hometown-heroics-for-eh-jets-in-twilight-league-title-game/article_9ac5a072-e3b7-11ea-8e5e-7fd2d05f1710.html

3 Clubs Aim for Playoff Championship

People’s, Vernon and East Hartford to play final games of 2020.

GHTBL’s 2020 Playoff Tournament is nearly finished and our mid-August  classic is down to 3 clubs; People’s United Bank, Vernon Orioles and the East Hartford Jets. 

G11 – TUESDAY, 8/18, MCKENNA FIELD – 7 PM

G12 – WEDNESDAY, 8/19, MCKENNA FIELD – 7 PM

G13 – THURSDAY, 8/20, MCKENNA FIELD – 7 PM (IF NECESSARY)

On Tuesday, People’s will face Vernon at East Hartford’s McKenna Field. Superior batting and 2 homers from Infielder, Willy Yahn along with gritty pitching performances from Aidan Dunn have led Manager Tom Abbruzzese’s bankers franchise in the Tournament thus far. As for Manager Jack Ceppetelli and the Vernon Orioles, veterans like Third Baseman, Dan Trubia and First Baseman, Jack  Halpin along with new additions such as Infielder, Jimmy Titus and Pitcher, Matt Cleveland will look to win their way into the championship game.

Jimmy Titus (left), Third Baseman, Vernon Orioles and Neifi Mercedes, Shortstop, People’s United Bank.

On Wednesday, the East Hartford Jets will take on the winner of Game #12. Manager Taylor Kosakowski has guided the Jets to 3-straight playoff victories. Bryan Albee has been the team’s ace on the mound. Designated Hitter Jimmy Schult, Shortstop, Jeff Criscuolo and Outfielder, Mike Santiago are currently having success at the plate. However, if the Jets are defeated on Wednesday, then Playoff Game #13 will be played on Thursday.

At each game, the league will request a $5 donation at the main gate. Admission is free for kids 14 & under.

We look forward to seeing you at McKenna Field this week!

Cinderella Story Playoffs?

Evan Chamberlin and Rainbow Graphics upset Expos 5-2.

The Rainbow Graphics baseball club of Manchester shook up the first round bracket with a 5-2 win over the 2nd seed Record-Journal Expos. Veteran, 30 year old pitcher, Evan Chamberlain earned the win by throwing a 2 hitter through 6 innings with 1 earned run. Edison Galan went 3 for 4 with 2 runs and an RBI. Ryan Pandolfi went 2 for 4 with an RBI on 2 doubles. Max Quinn went 1 for 4 with 2 RBI’s. Co-Managers, Tyler Repoli and Ryan Pandolfi will lead their team to Playoff Game #6 at Ceppa Field in Meriden, CT on Thursday at 6:30 PM.

Follow the Rainbow Graphics team on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/rainbow_graphics_ghtbl

Check out the team’s sponsor Rainbow Graphics at: https://rainbowgraphicsct.com/

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! 

Johnny Taylor Field Charity Series at Dunkin’

To raise funds for Johnny Taylor Field, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League will play a doubleheader on Monday, August 3, 2020 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

If you’ve been itching to watch some baseball at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, you’re in luck. And if you’re interested in Hartford’s baseball heritage, it’s must-see baseball.

The venerable Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League will stage a doubleheader Monday beginning at 6 p.m., fans allowed, to raise money for what’s yet needed to complete Johnny Taylor Field at Colt Park. A host of future major league players have appeared in the GHTBL though its history, which began in 1929, but Taylor, though he was kept out of the segregated major leagues in his time, is considered by many to be the greatest of them all.

Johnny Taylor Field under construction, Colt Park, Hartford, Connecticut, 2020.

Negro Leagues star Johnny ‘Schoolboy’ Taylor may be Hartford’s greatest baseball player; with enough signatures, a city ballfield may be named for him »

“He’s probably the most talented pitcher to ever come from Hartford,” said Wes Ulbrich, GM of the Ulbrich Steel team and the league’s historian. “The Yankees were going to sign him, and he would have been the first Black player signed in the history of the game, but they decided not to when they found out he was African-American. He would have been the first in the 1930s.”

Taylor played for Bulkeley High as a senior in 1933, and struck out 25 batters in a nine-inning game against New Britain. A Yankees scout, Gene McCann, was sent to Hartford to watch Taylor pitch, and called The Courant to find out when he’d be on the mound again. Sports Editor Albert W. Keane told McCann that Taylor was African-American, and McCann’s response, “cannot be printed in a family newspaper,” Keane wrote. The Philadelphia A’s were also reported as interested at the time, but unwilling to sign Taylor.

Taylor, who had the nickname “Schoolboy,” went on to a long professional career in the Negro Leagues. In 1936, columnist Lewis R. Dial in the New York Age, chastised Yankees top executive Ed Barrow for not signing Taylor, who was by then starring for the New York Cubans. “Surely, Mr. Barrow has heard of him, for his talent scout went all the way to Hartford to look over this youngster,” Dial wrote.

One can only imagine how many games the fire-balling Taylor might have won for the Yankees of the 1930s, with Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Tony Lazzeri and Bill Dickey producing runs for him.

There were suggestions that Taylor renounce his heritage, learn Spanish and pose as Cuban, but he would not do that. He often returned to Hartford to play before packed crowds, at Colt Park or Bulkeley Stadium. In September 1941, Taylor brought an all-star team from the Negro Leagues to play the famous Savitt Gems; his catcher was Hall-of-Famer Josh Gibson. Taylor struck out 15.

Johnny Taylor (left) and Satchel Paige, 1942.

“There was one time [Taylor] needed a police escort, because there were so many people,” Ulbrich said.

Taylor’s story is particularly relevant this summer as the Negro Leagues’ 100th anniversary is commemorated. He finished his pro career playing for the Eastern League’s Hartford Chiefs in 1949, and he lived in the city until his death in 1987.

Through the Colt Park Foundation, Ulbrich hopes to raise more money to supplement funds already allotted for improvements. Johnny Taylor Field at Colt Park is supposed to be ready for the spring of 2021.

“We’re going to donate to Public Works, so they can get things like bases and signage,” said Ulbrich, “or they might choose for us to buy it and donate it. We really need lights, which is a lot of money, but they just gave an additional $500,000 for Colt Park. We want to keep fundraising through the Colt Park Foundation. We really care about the park, and it ties in with our league’s history so much.”

Watch more on the push to rename Johnny Taylor Field in Colt Park:

NBC Connecticut covers Johnny Taylor Field renaming.

The Greater Hartford Twilight League is playing its 92nd season despite the pandemic, with health and safety protocols and social distancing rules proving effective so far. The league schedule, usually 24 games, is 12. “We’ve had no issues,” Ulbrich said.

For the games Monday at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, the league got a reduction in rent from the Yard Goats and secured free parking in the Trumbull Street Stadium lot, which holds about 250 cars. With Dunkin’ Donuts Park’s 6,000 capacity, and a 25 percent capacity limit, that should be enough for Monday’s doubleheader. Tickets are $10 for adults; children under 14 get in free. The Record-Journal Expos play People’s United Bank at 6 p.m., and Ulbrich Steel plays the East Hartford Jets at 8 p.m.

Dom Amore can be reached at damore@courant.com.

Watch more on the renaming of Johnny Taylor Field in Colt Park:

Hartford Twilight League Persists in Pandemic

GHTBL is featured on NBC Connecticut.

By Gabrielle Lucivero • Published July 22, 2020 • Updated on July 23, 2020 at 2:19 pm

The pandemic threatened it, but the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is on the field for a 91st season. The long running men’s league has been a stop for major leaguers of the future and of the past.

“All the names that you know about in baseball history in the state of Connecticut you know, almost everyone was involved with the Hartford Twilight League in some capacity,” said Greg Morhardt, who started playing in the league in 1982. He went on to turn a minor league career into a scouting position with the Boston Red Sox.

Now, on these summer nights, he watched from behind the backstop as his son, Justin, a 2017 draft pick of the Atlanta Braves, takes the mound. And sometimes he’s joined by Justin’s grandfather, Moe.

Moe Morhardt played his first Twilight League game more than 50 years ago, in 1954. He went on to play first base for the Chicago Cubs for part of two seasons in the 60s and then came back again to the Twilight League.

“Baseball’s often been described as being passed own as father and son,” said Moe. “Playing catch and things like that and that’s absolutely true. That’s the backbone.”

They may not know how many years they’ve all played – though they can agree, Greg’s brother Darryl has played the most – what they do know is that those years made a difference in their careers.

“We were playing with men,” said Moe. “Playing with people older, faster, stronger than we were.”

“Guys would go from playing on a major college team hitting fourth to going to the Hartford Twilight League team and hitting sixth,” said Greg.

It’s the kind of league where every strikeout has a story and those stories get bigger every time.

“Guys that are, you know, chewing tobacco, spitting on the ground,” said Justin. “Saying, ‘I don’t care if he’s 16, I don’t care if he’s a Morhardt, get a hit’.”

And that’s a story that never gets old.

“Even in the major leagues, things are changing,” said Justin. “We’ve got new rules and new ways to do things but here in this league, you know, things don’t change.”

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.

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.**

Winter Workouts for Twi-Leaguers & Prospects

860Baseball of Hartford hosts GHTBL and new recruits.

A new Twilight League development has materialized this off-season.  The first “Winter Workout” was held on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 at 860Baseball in Hartford, Connecticut. 

GHTBL veterans and prospective players met up to stretch out, throw bullpen, take indoor batting practice and to socialize.  In all, 18 ballplayers attended the inaugural Winter Workout, many of which said they would be back for the next training session.  

Winter Workout #2 will take place on Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 860Baseball.  In fact, the GHTBL plans to organize monthly workouts this off-season.  Each training session will be announced 3 weeks in advance. Two sessions will be planned for April. 

Many thanks goes to the friendly staff and ownership at 860Baseball for their hospitality.

CLICK HERE TO SEE A CLIP FROM WINTER WORKOUT #1. 

Honoring Johnny Taylor at Colt Park in Hartford

Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League works to officially rename new ball field after Johnny Taylor.

By REBECCA LURYE | HARTFORD COURANT | NOV 21, 2019 | 6:00 AM

Negro Leagues star Johnny ‘Schoolboy’ Taylor may be Hartford’s greatest baseball player; and with enough signatures, a city ballfield may be named for him.

The name Johnny “Schoolboy” Taylor may soon grace a ballfield in Colt Park, where the Hartford native honed the high kick and fastball that made him a pitching legend in the Negro Leagues.

Johnny "Schoolboy" Taylor, left, was one of the greatest players from Connecticut, a standout pitcher and hitter as a senior at Bulkeley High before becoming one of the best pitchers in the Negro Leagues from 1935 to 1945. He beat Satchel Paige, right, 2-0 in an All-Star game at the Polo Grounds, pitched eight career no-hitters and was a star in Cuba and Mexico before returning to Connecticut.
Johnny “Schoolboy” Taylor, left, was one of the greatest players from Connecticut, a standout pitcher and hitter as a senior at Bulkeley High before becoming one of the best pitchers in the Negro Leagues from 1935 to 1945. He beat Satchel Paige, right, 2-0 in an All-Star game at the Polo Grounds, pitched eight career no-hitters and was a star in Cuba and Mexico before returning to Connecticut (Photo courtesy Of Estelle Taylor).

“He’s probably the most worthy figure in Hartford’s baseball history,” said Weston Ulbrich, secretary of the 91-year-old Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League, where Taylor got his start in the 1930s. Ulbrich is leading the effort to recognize Taylor. Also helping with the effort is Leslie Hammond, a longtime Hartford real estate agent and close friend of Taylor’s late niece, Pat Anderson.

Taylor, who died in 1987, is widely considered one of the greatest baseball players to come out of Connecticut, despite the racial discrimination that kept him out of the major leagues.

He was retired from the game when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, though Taylor integrated professional baseball in Hartford two years later when he signed with the Hartford Chiefs for one final season in 1949.

Two-hundred-fifty signatures from Hartford residents are needed to move forward the process of permanently renaming the public Field #9 in Colt Park, where renovations are underway. They’re being gathered this month by Ulbrich, Hammond and others active in the city’s parks.

The measure was welcomed by the city council when Councilman Thomas “TJ” Clarke II introduced it in May, and it drew strong support at a public hearing the next month. However, the resolution stalled from July to November due to a miscommunication over the requirements to permanently rename public property—specifically, signatures were not gathered and the city’s Building Dedication Committee, which is led by the mayor, did not explain why it was not meeting to review the resolution.

Hartford's Johnny Taylor, among the best baseball players ever to come out of Hartford, is pictured at his home in July 1976. "When I pitched in the Mexican League during the war, the owner would buy me a new suit for every shutout I hurled. When the season was over, I came home to Hartford with 15 new suits. Yes, those were the days," Taylor, then 60, told The Courant.
Hartford’s Johnny Taylor, among the best baseball players ever to come out of Hartford, is pictured at his home in July 1976. “When I pitched in the Mexican League during the war, the owner would buy me a new suit for every shutout I hurled. When the season was over, I came home to Hartford with 15 new suits. Yes, those were the days,” Taylor, then 60, told The Courant (Hartford Courant file photo).

The dedication committee has not met since December 2018, according to David Grant, an assistant in Mayor Luke Bronin’s office. This week, Clarke said the process is now on track.

“Lessons learned all the way around,” Clarke said. “Communication is key.”

Taylor’s daughter, Lynette Taylor Grande of Bloomfield, said the delay isn’t important and probably wouldn’t have bothered her father, who never sought recognition.

“I think he would have been a little overwhelmed by such honoraria during his lifetime,” said Grande, who was born the year before her father left baseball for good. “I think he kind of said, ‘No’ to some things people wanted to do back when he was alive.”

However, the family was pleasantly surprised when they learned about the Twilight League’s effort in the spring. Grande sees it as part of a deeper commitment by the city to recognize the historical figures who made a difference to their communities.

“It’s fun to think that someone still remembered his story and wanted it to be indelibly imprinted in the Hartford community,” she said.

Johnny Taylor was born in Hartford in 1916 and raised in the South End, where Colt Park drew youth to its fields for pickup games and organized sandlot ball. He was a track star for the Bulkeley High School Maroons, then joined the baseball team his senior year.

On June 2, 1933, Taylor, pitching in his final high school game, set the Connecticut record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game at Colt Park. A scout for the New York Yankees came to see the ace pitcher in Hartford that year, not realizing that the light-skinned Taylor was black, The Courant reported in 1976.

Hartford’s Johnny ‘Schoolboy’ Taylor circa 1936 or ’37, when he played for the New York Cubans, a team in the Negro Leagues. (Handout)

The scout tried to convince Taylor to pretend he was Cuban and take a Hispanic last name in order to join the major leagues, but he refused. Taylor kept a newspaper clipping with that story in his wallet for the rest of his life, his late widow once told The Courant.

“He just was a person of principal who would have done the right thing and stood up for the right thing,” Grande, a retired teacher, said. “He really cared about the underdog and saw the potential for the world to be a better place for everybody.”

Taylor played two seasons with the Hartford Twilight League, which was informally integrated, though Taylor was one of the few black players.

In 1935, Taylor joined the New York Cubans, a Negro League team, and later played for a number of teams, including the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Toledo Crawfords.

Over the years, he also pitched for and against the Savitt Gems, an independent, semipro team sponsored by jewelry store proprietor Bill Savitt, who also owned a South End ballpark called Bulkeley Stadium. The stadium was named for Morgan Bulkeley, a Hartford politician and businessman who was the first president of the National League. An opponent of racial discrimination, Savitt signed several black and Latino players and organized regular games with teams from the Negro Leagues.

Taylor once helped the Gems to an exhausting 7-6 victory over the Boston Royal Giants, pitching 22 innings at Bulkeley Stadium.

Later, playing for the New York Cubans in 1937, Taylor pitched a no-hitter to beat the Negro Leagues All-Stars team — and its ace pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige — 2-0 before a crowd of 22,500 at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Satchel Paige, left, and Hartford’s Johnny “Schoolboy” Taylor meet at a Negro League All-Star game in 1937 at New York’s Ebbets Field, the day Taylor no-hit Paige’s team. (Photo courtesy of Estelle Taylor)

“I gave up only eight hits that day,” Paige said at the time, “but it wasn’t nearly enough with what that kid [Taylor] did.”

Taylor later replaced Paige on the Pittsburgh Crawfords when Paige and 19 other team members left the Negro Leagues for the Dominican Republic, to play for dictator Gen. Rafael Trujillo. That year, it was Taylor who made the All-Star team.

But after one more season in the U.S., Taylor, too, left for a foreign team and a higher salary than the Negro Leagues could offer him. The millionaire Jorge Pasquel paid Taylor $600 a month to play for his Mexico City team, Azules de Veracruz, and later sweetened the deal with a new bespoke suit for every shutout he pitched.

Taylor collected 15 custom suits by the end of the 1941 season, when he returned to the U.S. for a break from baseball until he would return for two more seasons in New York.

His early retirement was hastened by a back injury he sustained nine years earlier in Cuba, where he was playing for a winter league and earning the nickname “El Rey de Hartford” — the king of Hartford.

Still, it was players like Taylor flocking to foreign leagues that helped pressure Major League Baseball and the American League to integrate in 1947.

Taylor had long thought the day would come. He told a Bridgeport Sunday Herald reporter in the 1930s, “It may not come in my career as a pitcher, but I’m sure it will come. Baseball shows signs of needing tonic, and it’s my frank opinion that the Negro will be just the tonic needed.”

Four years into his retirement, Taylor returned to become the first black athlete to sign with the Hartford Chiefs of the Eastern League.

Outside of baseball, Taylor worked at Pratt & Whitney and in construction with his father as he raised his four children with his wife, Estelle, who carried the distinction of the first black nurse at New Britain General Hospital. After Johnny Taylor helped build Hartford Hospital, Estelle Taylor became one of the first black nurses there, too.

It was a rich, uneventful life, Grande recalls. In the 1950s and ’60s, the Estelle Taylor would walk the kids downtown every weekend and Johnny Taylor would walk them to the library every Wednesday.

At the Wadsworth Atheneum and the department stores, to the Mr. Peanut store and a movie — and to Savitt Jewelers, where Johnny Taylor was prominently featured in the photos on the walls.

At the library, Taylor loved to read about space: “He was very much in tune with the futuristic, with what’s to come,” Grande says.

Just five years before he died at age 71, Taylor was inducted into the Twilight League Hall of Fame in 1982. He accepted it humbly, as with all recognition throughout his life, said his daughter, Maureen Taylor Hicks, who lives near Philadelphia.

“I, too, am humbled by the research into my father’s career revealing the deep respect for his talent shown by the Hartford community of classmates, teammates, sportswriters and sports fans during a time of racial segregation and discrimination,” she said.

“After so many years, it is indeed an honor for my father to be remembered.”

Rebecca Lurye can be reached at rlurye@courant.com.

A Farewell to Wethersfield Ballplayer, Joe Hallisey

Inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame in 1986.

Joseph McMahon Hallisey passed away on September 13, 2019. Born November 20, 1925, at his home on Hillcrest Avenue in Wethersfield, Joe was the son of the late Joseph A. and Katherine (McMahon) Hallisey; he resided in Wethersfield his entire life.

A retired structural engineer, Joe owned and operated Hallisey Engineering Associates, Inc. in Wethersfield and Hartford for more than sixty years. Hallisey was married to his wife Maureen for 63 years.

Joe Halisey was a gifted third baseman and batter who played for the following GHTBL teams: Wethersfield Shadows, Yellow Cab and Wethersfield A.C.

He graduated from Wethersfield High School in 1943. Joe proudly served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1946. He earned a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1951.

A certified private pilot, Joe earned his instrument rating and was the proud owner of a Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer N7838D. Joe was inducted into the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Wethersfield Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.

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.

2019 Twilight Season Set to Begin

Opening Day is May 28th, 6 PM, Henry Park, Vernon, CT.

More than 90 years of twilight baseball will continue this summer as our league gets the 2019 GHTBL season underway.  Reigning champions, the Vernon Orioles and their longtime manager, Jack Ceppetelli will face off against last year’s runner-up, Rainbow Graphics of Manchester. 

Rainbow Graphics and the Vernon Orioles have replenished their rosters with newly recruited collegiate athletes to play alongside veteran twilight leaguers.  Co-managers, Tyler Repoli and Ryan Pandolfi will step into leadership roles for Rainbow Graphics this season. 

Meanwhile, the Orioles will field familiar names like the Dan Trubia and Tony Trubia as well as their upstart second baseman, Zach Donahue who has recently committed to play baseball at the University of Connecticut under another GHTBL alum Head Coach, Jim Penders.

Opening Day schedule:
– Tuesday, May 28th
– Henry Park in Vernon, Connecticut, on Frank J. McCoy Field. 
– Opening Day presentation and ceremonial first pitch at 5:55 PM.
– Bill Holowaty, GHTBL President will be master of ceremonies. 
– Game time is scheduled for 6 PM.  

A special thanks goes to the Town of Vernon Parks and Recreation for their continued support and cooperation.  The Vernon Orioles have been proud to represent the Town of Vernon since 1966.

2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament

May 17th Golf Tournament and Awards Banquet kicks off 2019 season.

To all Alumni, Players, Friends and Family,

On Sunday, May 19, 2019 at Blackledge Country Club in Hebron, CT, the our twilight league will come together on the golf course for a fantastic day.  This event is the league’s largest fundraiser of the year and honors Buzzy Levin, former owner and franchise sponsor of Malloves Jewelers of Middletown.  His son, Marc Levin has brought Malloves Jewelers back to GHTBL this season and the league is pleased to welcome his family back into the fold.

**May 19th Itinerary**

1:00 PM – WELCOME
Lunch, chat with old teammates, receive a gift bag and buy raffle tickets ($20).

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

7:00 PM – AWARDS BANQUET & DINNER
Dinner is served.  2018 award winners are presented with trophies and plaques.

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

**This event funds our entire season and makes possible our charitable mission.**

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

To sign up go to www.GHTBL.org/Donate.
Or show up on the day of the event and pay by cash or check. 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW EVENT BROCHURE

Launching New Angle with “Games of the Week”

2019 season will feature live broadcasts on YouTube.

This summer, our historic twilight league will be advancing deeper into the digital age with live video broadcasts.  The 2019 season will usher in “Games of the Week” featuring Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League action on our YouTube channel.  Wherever they might be, baseball fans will be able to watch two GTHBL games per week for free of all 8 teams.

These streams will be complete with commentary from Middletown native and amateur broadcaster, Dan Saccu who will break down all of the live baseball action on a twice-a-week basis.  Other commentators will likely chime as well.  To watch and get notified when streams begin, subscribe to our YouTube channel:

Click here to visit the GHTBL YouTube channel.

Stay tuned.  This summer is going to be great one.

– Macon Jefferys, GHTBL Video Coordinator