Tag: wood bat

Baseball Bloodlines: The Spanswick Family

The Spanswicks 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 some point 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 ball player, 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 with Jack Onslow, a Red Sox scout and a former manager of the Hartford Senators. Onslow showed up at the Spanswick house the next morning. The $4,000 contract was inked at the kitchen table, but 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 promoted mid-year to the Lexington Red Sox of the Nebraska League, posting a 7-4 record with a 3.13 ERA and a league-leading 142 strikeouts. In a game against the Superior Senators on August 21, 1958, he tallied a Nebraska League record 22 strikeouts.

Raleigh wins behind Spanswick, August 4, 1959.

The following season he advanced to the Carolina League and dominated with 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. At the time, Bill Spanswick was considered a top prospect in the Red Sox organization among other talented pitchers including Dick Radatz, Dave Morehead, Earl Wilson and Wilbur Wood.

That same year Jack Onslow signed Bill’s brother, Jim Spanswick. 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 worked his way through the minors. Bill Spanswick endured a few bumps in the Pacific Coast League with Boston’s Triple-A affiliate, the Seattle Rainiers. In 1963, he conquered control problems to become an All-Star and PCL strikeout king with 209. He earned a 14-8 record for the last place Rainers and three of his defeats were by 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 in the contest. It 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. Even though Spanswick showed flashes of brilliance, 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 achieved 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 his 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 Naples 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 great 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. It was his last year in baseball and Mr. G’s won GHTBL’s 2002 Regular Season.

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
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LEAGUE


12 Inducted to GHTBL Hall of Fame, Class of 2023

The Greater Hartford Twilight League inducted a dozen into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, November, 19, 2023 at Indian Hill Country Club in Newington. Among the inductees were GHTBL President, Bill Holowaty as well as Kevin Beaudoin, Steve Cannata, Jack Champagne, Scott Jeamel, Tom Kirby, Walt Nakonechny, Adam Peters, Bunty Ray, Dave Sacco, Bobby Stefanik and Mike Susi. GHTBL Hall of Fame President, Steve Krajewski was the master of ceremonies.


Congratulations to all coaches and ballplayers! This class represents some of the top baseball names in the Greater Hartford area from the 1960’s to 2000’s. The event brochure, written by GHTBL Hall of Fame Committee Member Jack Hurley, will be posted at a later date. Here’s the presenting words given by the League Secretary inducting Bill Holowaty:

I’m proud to present the induction of our President, Bill Holowaty to the Executive Committee, recognizing league officials. Coach Holowaty is just the 10th person to earn this honor and the first since Jim Gallagher. What people might not realize about Bill is that he’s one of Connecticut’s all-time amateur sports figures.

He played basketball at UConn starting in 1964 – not too long ago. While in college he appeared in the Hartford Twilight League with Hamilton Standard. His teammates were fellow Hall of Fame inductees, Wally Widholm, Hal Lewis and Bill Risley. Holowaty only played for a few summers before graduating and embarking on a coaching career at Eastern – a fledgling college at the time. 

He built up the program by installing an attitude of toughness and hard work. His demands for excellence were unparalleled. Bill won his 1000th game at Eastern in the year 2000. The Warriors went to 39 postseasons in 45 years under Holowaty, who won 4 National Titles and a total of 1,412 games – more than any coach in New England. 

He led the project to build a baseball stadium at Eastern and it really should be called Bill Holowaty Stadium if you consider all that he achieved. Though he did help start the NECBL, Coach sent hundreds of players to the Twilight League. For example, one of his former players, Jim Schult has helped the East Hartford Jets win the last 4 championships.

After retiring from coaching, he agreed to be Twilight President in 2017. Everyone continued to call him Coach Holowaty and he immediately made us more competitive. He gave veteran players and longtime managers new energy. He started a golf tournament/fundraiser with Marc Levin. With Bill at the helm, the league has raised over $25,000 for charities with benefit games at Dunkin’ Park. A lot of his contributions have also been thanks to his wife Jan.  

Bill has has seen many obstacles for a guy born in 1945 from Little Falls, New York. He has fought through controversy and illness, and has won again and again. His sports career is rivaled by few. Before our state had Geno Auriemma, Jim Calhoun or Dan Hurley, we had Coach Holowaty winning National Championships. The Greater Hartford Twilight League is grateful for his leadership. We are in the best financial position we’ve even been in and he hasn’t asked for anything in return.

Coach, you’re now one of the Hall of Fame’s most well-known “baseball guys” – right up there with Phil Rizzuto an Honorary Member. Let’s put it this way; you’re one of two people in this room with a Wikipedia page. You are highly regarded, even today in this forgetful world. You’re a friend and a great role model. You’re one of a kind. Congratulations on the induction.

Bill Holowaty inducted to GHTBL Hall of Fame by Weston Ulbrich, League Secretary, 11/18/23.

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.

Jets Soar to Four Straight Playoff Championships

The East Hartford Jets are GHTBL’s 2023 Playoff Champion and have now won their fourth consecutive postseason. Jim Schult was once again the ace on the mound for East Hartford. His pitching performances were unmatched. In two complete games against M&T Bank, he gave up just 7 hits over 14 innings while striking out 24 opposing batters. Schult has been a key two-way player (also an outfielder and DH) for this Jets dynasty.

As for other major contributors, East Hartford’s shortstop, Jeff Criscuolo, earned his sixth career playoff title and his first as player-manager. Additional leadership was provided by General Manager Chris Kehoe who served as Third Base Coach. Kehoe is the longest contributing member of the Jets (since 1991). Corey Plasky had an amazing postseason to match his torrid hitting pace during the Regular Season. At one point Plasky made a diving play at second base to save two runs in their semi-final game against M&T Bank.

Manny Alejandro, the player with the most seasons as a Jet, was a very reliable starting pitcher. First year player Darrion Williams was just as impressive with several complete game appearances on the mound. Relief pitcher and Twi-loop veteran, Taylor Kosakowski has now won seven GHTBL Playoff Championships, a league-high among active players. A balanced mix of older and younger members of the team has been a winning formula.

Congratulations to this year‘s championship team as well as the other clubs who competed deep into the playoffs. Until next year, GHTBL extends sincere gratitude to all of our fans, players, managers and umpires for their commitment and dedication to amateur baseball.

(Featured image photograph by Phil Ledwith.)

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 some of the twilight league’s best baseball and closest games. 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 that will 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.

Then, 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

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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 you take issue with taunting 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 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 very 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 managed by 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 had joined the East Hartford Jets. Led by 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. Therefore, 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 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.

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.

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

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

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.

1990 Twilight Inductions GHTBL Hall of Fame
GHTBL Hall of Fame inductions, 1990.
Rollie Johnson GHTBL Baseball Scout
Rollie Johnson (1940-2022)
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 might think it would be the players fresh off their college season, but it would be a mistake to overlook 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 will fare for both teams and throughout the league.

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.

The Royal Typewriter Baseball Club of Hartford

Back when most manufacturing companies organized baseball clubs, one of the longest running teams in the Nutmeg State was Royal Typewriter. In 1908, Royal Typewriter had moved their production operations from Brooklyn, New York, to New Park Avenue on Hartford’s western border. Along with their crosstown rival, Underwood Typewriter Company, Royal’s relocation made Hartford the “Typewriter Capital of the World.” That same year, Royal Typewriter Baseball Club joined the city’s lively amateur scene. Ownership built a baseball diamond on New Park Avenue, they supplied uniforms and equipment, and the Royals became a powerhouse in Hartford for about four decades.

1908 Royals vs. Criterions Hartford, CT
Royals vs. Criterions, 1908.
1908 Royal Typewriter Standard
No. 1 “Flatbed” Desktop Royal Typewriter, 1908.
City Championship, Royals vs. Echoes, Hartford, CT, 1909.
City Championship, Hartford, CT, 1909.
No. 1 "Flatbed" Desktop Royal Typewriter, 1909.
No. 1 “Flatbed” Desktop Royal Typewriter, 1909.
1909 Jul 17 Royal Typewriter vs. Hartford Rubber Works
Royal Typewriter vs. Hartford Rubber Works, 1909.

Key players on Royal Typewriter were young, local workmen. A tall right-handed pitcher named Moses “Moe” Lenhoff from Ashley Street was the team’s ace. Lenhoff enjoyed minor league experience with New Britain of the Connecticut State League and later with Amsterdam of the Eastern Association. His Royal battery mate was John “Boggy” Muldoon of West Hartford, a catcher who later signed with the Hartford Senators of the Eastern League at 20 years old. Following a semi-pro career, in which he caught a game for Babe Ruth, Muldoon became Connecticut’s best known umpire. He later retired from Royal Typewriter after 42 years of service.

Moses Lenhoff, Pitcher, Royal Typewriter, 1911.
Moses Lenhoff, Pitcher, Royal Typewriter, 1911.
Battery of Royal Baseball Team, 1911.
Muldoon, Lenhoff & Andrews, Royal Typewriter, 1911.
1912 Royal Typewriter Baseball Club
Marty Cleary, Eddie Johnson, Al Miller & Ed Horan, Royal Typewriter, 1912.
1912 Royal Typewriter Ad Hartford Courant
Royal Typewriter advertisement, Hartford Courant, 1912.

Royal Typewriter were revered as one of Hartford’s top company teams. The manager of the club was A.A. MacKay, recognized as “Father Baseball” by his players. In 1913, the Royals were chosen to represent the city in the newly arranged Connecticut Independent Baseball League by Hartford sporting goods purveyor and community organizer, Harry N. Anderson. Other cities included Manchester, Meriden, Wallingford, Bristol, New Britain, Windsor Locks and Collinsville. For a company team, Royal Typewriter was elite, but as semi-professionals the Royals of Hartford finished fourth in the standings in consecutive seasons.

1913 Anderson Royal Typewriter Baseball Club
H.M. Anderson, Royal Typewriter, 1913.
Royal Typewriter players, 1913.
Joe Burke, Bill Dwyer & Squizzer Pillion, Royal Typewriter, 1913.
Royal Typewriter Baseball Club, 1919.
Royal Typewriter Baseball Club, 1919.

On October 9, 1926, the Hartford Daily Courant reported that Royal made its one millionth typewriter. The thriving business remained active in local baseball. Thousands of fans had witnessed the Royals perform after work hours. However, public interest in company teams waned due the impending Great Depression. Unemployment made sports less of a priority in Hartford. Crowds of 5,000 at Royal games were now reduced to a few hundred Hartford Industrial League diehards.

Royal Typewriter factories, New Park Avenue Hartford, CT, 1930.
Royal Typewriter factories, New Park Avenue, Hartford, CT, 1930.
1934 Industrial League Standings
Hartford Industrial League standings, 1934.
1935 c. Royal Typewriter Hartford
Royal Typewriter, Hartford, CT, 1935.
1935 Apr 27 Royal Typewriter Frank A. Strong Manager
Royal Typewriter seek opponents, 1935.

Royal Typewriter finally hit their stride as a baseball franchise in the late 1930’s. They finished second in the Industrial League of 1937 under the direction of Manager Frank Strong. The next year, Royal Typewriter defeated Chance Vought and captured the “Dusty” League title with a perfect 15-0 win-loss record. Many Royals on the 1938 championship team such as Pete Kapura, George Dixon, John Carlin, Yosh Kinel and Jackie Cronin were savvy veterans with plenty of diamond time. They also appeared for the Savitt Gems, Bill Savitt’s semi-professional club at Hartford’s Bulkeley Stadium.

1936 Bulkeley Stadium Industrial League
President K.C. Faustman & Vice President C.B. Cook of Royal Typewriter Co., 1936.
1936 Royal Typewriter Baseball Club Hartford
Royal Typewriter Baseball Club, 1936.
Frank A. Strong, Charles Shimkus, Thomas Reilly and Andrew Jack, Hartford Industrial League, 1937.
Frank A. Strong, Charles Shimkus, Thomas Reilly & Andrew Jack, Hartford Industrial League, 1937.
1938 Royal Typewriter Hartford
Royal Typewriter Baseball Club, 1938.
1938 Royal Typewriter Defeat Chance Vought to Finish Unbeaten
Royal Typewriter defeat Chance Vought to finish season unbeaten, Hartford Courant, 1938.
1938 Royal Typewriter Defeat Chance Vought to Finish Unbeaten Box Score
Royal Typewriter vs. Chance Vought, July 28, 1938.

Manager Strong guided the Royals to another winning season in 1939. They were runner-ups in the Dusty League behind Pratt & Whitney, but the Royals bounced back when they competed for a statewide “Connecticut Semi-Pro Baseball Championship” against the Bridgeport Springwoods. Because Bridgeport defeated Pratt & Whitney a few days earlier, the Royals secured the semi-pro state championship with a 3-2 win over Bridgeport. A week later, the Royals faced Rhode Island’s state champion, Club Marquette of Woonsocket, but were swept three games in row.

1939 Royal Typewriter Co. Win Connecticut Semi-Pro Baseball Championship
Royal Typewriter wins Connecticut Semi-Pro Baseball Championship, 1939.
1939 Aug 19 Royal Typewriter Charlie Adamick Umpire John Muldoon
Umpire John “Boggy” Muldoon rules out Charlie Adamick, Royal Typewriter, August 19, 1939.

Royal Typewriter underwent immense changes during World War II. The company converted all operations to exclusively manufacture goods for the Allied cause. Royal made machine guns, rifles, bullets, propellers and spare parts for airplane engines. When the war ended, Royal Typewriter sponsored a team in the Hartford Twilight League. At the end of the summer, Royal hosted the Pete Kapura Memorial Doubleheader. Kapura, a longtime Royal employee, died at 35 years old at Saint Francis Hospital due to an undisclosed illness. On August 11, 1947, Kapura’s wife and two children were supported by more than 3,000 paying fans at Bulkeley Stadium.

1941 Jun 13 Pratt-Whitney Machine Tops Royal Typewriter
Pratt & Whitney Machine tops Royal Typewriter, June 13, 1941.
Jon Cordier & Ed Roche, Royal Typewriter, Hartford Twilight League, 1947.
L to R: Ernie Hutt, Walt Fonfara, John Buikus & Nonny Zazzaro, Royal Typewriter, Hartford Twilight League, Colt Park, Hartford, CT, 1947.
Royal Typewriter alumni at Hallbach's Restaurant, Meriden, CT, 1951.
Royal Typewriter alumni at Hallbach’s Restaurant, Meriden, CT, 1951.
1955 Jaycee Courant Heublein A 1 Aces vs. Royal Typewriter
Heublein A-1 Aces vs. Royal Typewriter, Jaycee Courant, Hartford, 1955.
Umpire Boggy Muldoon retires from Royal Typewriter Co. after 42 years, 1958.
John “Boggy” Muldoon retires from Royal Typewriter Co. after 42 years, 1958.

Sources

1. Hartford Courant

2. Record-Journal

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.

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 the 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)

Jets Soar, Earn 3rd Straight Pennant

Schult leads East Hartford Jets to third straight Twilight League playoff title
By Adam Betz, Journal Inquirer

MIDDLETOWN — Jim Schult is no stranger to success on the baseball diamond.

He had a standout career at Eastern Connecticut State University, including being named the 2011 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division III National Player of the Year.

Since joining the East Hartford Jets of the Greater Hartford Twilight League in 2019 “after being on the couch for a few years,” that success has remained.

And it gained another example Tuesday.

Schult finished with two hits, two RBIs, a run scored, and was the winning pitcher as No. 2 East Hartford rallied to beat the third-seeded Vernon Orioles 5-4 to win their third straight GHTBL playoff championship at Palmer Field.

“It was hard to win the first one. It was really hard to repeat,” the 32-year-old Fishkill, New York native said. “We had a special group of guys that were able to battle through the adversity. … I’m not sure I have the best words to describe how I’m feeling right now, but it means a lot.”

Schult pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief. He allowed two runs on four hits, struck out seven, and walked one. At the plate, he was the only Jet with multiple hits.

Jim Schult, Pitcher/Outfielder, East Hartford Jets

“He leads us by example and he makes everyone around him better,” East Hartford player/manager Taylor Kosakowski said of Schult. “He’s the guy you want on the mound or at the plate in a big spot. He’s the guy you want to see up there.”

The Jets, who were co-regular season champions, finish 24-7. They lost their first game of the double-elimination tournament [to the Hartford Colts] before rattling off six straight wins, including a 5-1 win over the Orioles on Monday to force Tuesday’s winner-take-all game.

“It says a lot about who we are,” designated hitter Andy Pelc said. “I feel like that first game, even though it didn’t go our way, put a chip back on our shoulder. I think that’s the reason we’re here today.”

The Orioles were making their seventh straight championship game appearance Tuesday night. They finish 20-9.

“I’m really proud of how we played a much better game tonight,” manager Jack Ceppetelli said. “We swung the bats well against a couple of the premier pitchers in the league. We just ran into one bad inning.”

Jack Ceppetelli, Manager, Vernon Orioles

Vernon held a 2-0 lead and threatened to break the game open with the bases loaded and two down in the top of the third.

But Schult came in from right field and needed only one pitch to end the inning.

Manny Alejandro led off the bottom of the frame with a single, the first Jets’ baserunner.

East Hartford would load the bases, with the help of a two-out error, to set the stage for Schult. He sent the first pitch from starter Bill Riggieri to center for a two-run single to tie the game.

“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Schult said. “I worked the count in my prior at-bat, so I got to see some pitches from him. It just so happened that I got a mistake with the first one.”

Janiel Ramirez drew a bases-loaded walk to break the tie and Pelc added a two-run single as East Hartford brought 10 batters to the plate in the inning to make it 5-2.

Janiel Ramirez, Outfielder, East Hartford Jets

The Orioles trimmed the deficit to one in the top of the sixth when Ian Halpin sent a two-run double to the right-field fence.

He finished with three hits Tuesday.

“That’s a huge hit to get us close in the sixth,” Ceppetelli said. “We just couldn’t quite get there.”

Schult regrouped and struck out the next batter looking to end the inning.

“I’ve got a whole bunch of guys in the dugout that are counting on me to get out of the inning,” Schult said. “We’re all hurting, we’re all tired at this point in the year. You just want to push through it. Like Bryan (Albee) threw 20-something innings for us during the playoffs, I wasn’t going to let him down. I wasn’t going to let anyone down. Just concentrating and finishing the job.”

Vernon jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Nick Roy scored on an error and Tyler Pogmore brought home Halpin with an RBI single.

Peter Kelley finished with two hits for Vernon. Riggieri took the loss. He allowed five unearned runs on five hits while striking out two and walking two over four innings.

East Hartford starter Albee, a member of Eastern’s National Championship team this year, allowed two runs — one of them earned — and struck out two in 2 2/3 innings.

2022 Playoff Championship winners, East Hartford Jets with Bill Holowaty, GHTBL President (right) and Andy Baylock, GHTBL Vice President (left).

Tuesday’s win was a bittersweet one for Kosakowski, who has managed the team since it re-formed in 2019 after folding a year prior. The Berlin native said he’s stepping down to devote more time to his family.

“Obviously, it’s very emotional,” he said. “Sixteen years playing in this league, it’s hard to come by a championship, let alone be a part of something this special. So, I hope I can continue to help out and contribute to the team as much as I can. I’m a school psychologist, and they always teach you to leave them better than you found them. For me, that’s what I’ve aimed to do with this team and I hope that I did that.”

Taylor Kosakowski, Player-manager, East Hartford Jets

2022 Playoff Championship on the Line

Will the East Hartford Jets earn a 3rd straight postseason title? That’s the question going into GHTBL’s 2022 Playoff Tournament.

The Jets have dominated as of late in close games and have blown out a few opponents as well. Yet, it was the Record-Journal Expos who also captured a share of the Regular Season Title. The other favorites remain the Vernon Orioles who finished third in the standings. M&T People’s and Rainbow Graphics hit their own hot streaks towards the end of the season and might have what it takes to win.

As the double-elimination tournament gets underway, here are some things to know:
– Stay tuned for rainout announcements and postponements.
– $10 admission for adults to the entire tournament.
– Free for kids 14 and under.
– Higher-seed teams are home team in the 1st Round.
– A coin flip determines home team for every round thereafter.

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.

Massicotte No-hits Cardinals

On Friday night, Jeff Massicotte steered the Record-Journal Expos to the franchise’s first no-hitter in nearly a decade. Massicotte’s gem came against the Wallingford Cardinals in an 8-0 victory. Massicotte is going to be a senior next year at St. Peter’s University where he plays Division-I ball. He’s from Meriden, Connecticut, and graduated from Maloney High School. He has been a part-time member of the Record-Journal Expos since 2016.

The last time a no-hitter was thrown by the Expos, it Kevin Jefferis in 2013, when the club was called the Connecticut Expos. Today, the team is currently a game back from the first place East Hartford Jets.

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
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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.

Orioles Outdueled 6-2 by Hesseltine

By Joshua Macala
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After meeting each other this past Sunday in Vernon, the Record-Journal Expos and Vernon Orioles were ready to do battle once again. Only this time on the Expos’ home turf. The Orioles won the game on Sunday but the Expos were coming off of a win over Rainbow Graphics, who are having a good season start. The Expos went into this game with a 4-2 record while the O’s were 6-1.  

This game had a lot of implications, such as if the Orioles lost they would have two losses – same as the Expos – and the Jets would become the only team with only one loss. As the O’s did lose, this put them at 6-2 and the Expos at 5-2 which seems to put them closer together in the rankings. Had this game gone differently the Expos would’ve seemed to dropped down.

This game started off with both teams getting runners on in scoring position but nothing coming of it. The first two innings saw nothing happen on offense and only behind the pitching of Charlie Hesseltine did the Orioles seem to not be able to even get a hit off. The first two innings alone saw four strikeouts for Hesseltine who was on his game in the best possible way this evening.  

In the bottom of the third the Expos got the bases loaded and then on a wild pitch a run would score- the first run of the game. It would take all the way until the top of the fifth inning for a single to score a run for the O’s and it was all tied at 1-1. This would not last very long as the Expos needed some insurance runs going into the last two innings for the Orioles and they were going to get them in grand fashion.

AJ Hendrickson brought in the go ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning. This would keep the bases loaded and another run would walk in. Jonathan Walter would hit a huge single to drive in a runs. Justin Marks would also RBI in another run, the fifth and final run of the inning. This would put the Expos up 6-1, and it appeared the O’s were all but through. The burst of offense really broke the game wide open and it was so great to see.

With this win, the Expos continue their battle for second place as they face the first place East Hartford Jets on Monday in East Hartford. The Orioles are off to face the Bristol Greeners in a doubleheader on Tuesday and even though the odds seem to be in favor of the O’s, with doubleheaders you never know who might prevail. Next week seems like it could reshape the standings depending upon who wins and who loses. 

Eastern’s World Series Winners

Recently, five GHTBL alumni were victorious on the national stage for Eastern Connecticut State University. Bryan Albee, Jack Rich, Zach Donahue, Aidan Dunn and Andres Jose earned a D-III College World Series Championship ring over LaGrange University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Congratulations to Head Coach Brian Hamm, who has captured Eastern’s fifth national title. Guided by Hamm, Albee, Rich, Donahue, Jose and Dunn have become proven winners, on and off the field. GHTBL is grateful to have these men as representatives of our league.

Graduating senior Bryan Albee plans to pitch for the East Hartford Jets, who are currently in first place in the GHTBL standings. Albee nabbed the Mike Abbruzzese Award for Outstanding Playoff Pitcher last season with the Jets. Jack Rich is also aboard the Record-Journal Expos as their perennial all-star outfielder. Last year, Jack was the Frank McCoy Award winner for Most Valuable Player in the league.

Want to rewatch the clinching World Series game? CLICK HERE

Cardinals Fly by People’s, 11-6

By Joshua Macala
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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
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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
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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.  

Expos Expose Phillies, 7-0

By Joshua Macala
raised || by || cassettes

Exactly one week after their season opener, the Record-Journal Expos returned to Ceppa Field to take on the South Windsor Phillies and scored 7 runs once again. The Phillies and Expos have quite the rivalry going, and so this was promising to be a stellar matchup. Both teams have, in recent seasons, finished in first place even though the then champions would go on to become either the Orioles or Jets. Some teams are at the top of the league, the middle of the league and the bottom of the league. The Expos and Phillies are both top-of-the-league teams, so playing each other should be exciting baseball.

The Expos scored five runs during the bottom of the second inning. It was a deficit from which the Phillies were unable to overcome. A hit-by-pitch, two walks and then a run was walked in as well before AJ Hendrickson hit a deep shot to center field to clear the bases. That double drove in three runs. It would’ve been a grand slam if it went over the fence (I thought it did at first). In the bottom of the sixth inning, Hendrickson would do the same as he hit a long shot out to left field to score two more runs. Five of the seven runs in the game would be AJ Hendrickson’s runs batted in.

While this might not seem like a big deal because players can have big offensive nights, the fact is that AJ Hendrickson was also pitching the entire game and he managed to shut out the Phillies, barely giving up any hits. There were only one or two occasions where it really felt like the Phillies might have a chance to score and then those opportunities quickly got shut down. In many ways, it felt like Hendrickson was doing everything in this game and that just feels even more surreal considering how he played last game, but this was definitely a team effort when you don’t just consider the statistics of it all.

For one thing, the Expos have a new player in Javon Malone and he not only drove in a run but also had a few well-made defensive plays. Everyone seemed to step up offensively for Record-Journal; taking the walk when they needed to, and going that extra mile defensively to make it so that the Phillies couldn’t score. To start off this season with these first few games, everything is clicking for the Expos and their offense and defense are both delivering the way they should.

But with this game it should also be noted that the Phillies played well. The second inning was their biggest downfall and aside from that the combined pitching efforts of Noah Shaw and Connor Egan left the Expos scoreless for five innings. Offensively, the Phillies were missing Brody Labbe and Mike Lisinicchia, as well as Trevor Moulton as a pitcher, but these are just things which happen at the beginning of the season. Jack Rich has yet to play for the Expos as he is off doing great things with the ECSU Baseball team.  

With only two games into the season for the Expos (and the most games being played is three) it might be a bit early to see this as being a runaway season for the Expos. What the standings look like now- with the Expos, Jets and Orioles on top. But it is interesting to see that the new team of the Cardinals is 0-2 while the somewhat new team of the Greeners is 0-3. Whether they can turn their seasons around or not remains to be seen but there is a lot of baseball to be played still so it’s anybody’s game.

While the Expos only had one game last week, they play three this week. They go to Muzzy Field on Thursday night to take on the Greeners, who will be looking for their first win. Then on Friday night they welcome the Jets to Ceppa Field – a matchup to anticipate because the Jets are the reigning and defending Twi Champions. Baseball is one of those unpredictable sports though where it seems like the Greeners should be an easy win but they might not be. I’ve seen it before where first place teams fall to last place teams (mostly the Mets in previous years) and it doesn’t make sense but it happens.  

So even though it feels like Thursday should be an easy win and Friday will be more of a competitive game, anything can happen and you never really know until that game happens. The historic Muzzy Field is a great place to watch baseball and these two games just feel like they’re going to set an important tone for the rest of the season. Either way, win or lose, it’s a nice time of year to be outside watching baseball again. 

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.

Twilight League Seeks More Collegiate Players

As the NCAA season gets underway, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League wishes every college ballplayer all of the best this Spring. Special shoutouts go to those players who have recently honed their skills in the GHTBL. From Jack Rich and Brian Albee at Eastern Connecticut State University to Josh Pabilonia and Julian Gonzalez at Western Connecticut State University, players from the Twi-loop are expected to make their mark on the NCAA*.

There are roughly 34,500 college baseball players who compete each year in the United States. Student-athletes commit to their sweat, tears and sometimes blood to university programs. GHTBL is proud of our many college players who manage to juggle school, baseball, career and family life. Living up to these tall tasks is never easy.

However, nothing worth doing is ever easy. GHTBL Managers are seeking new recruits who have the work ethic, character and experience to compete at the college level. Our franchises have one goal: to improve baseball players on and off the field. We welcome current, future or former college athletes to fill out a Player Application found here: www.GHTBL.org/Join.

*GHTBL abides by strict amateur rules. No gifts, favors or money are dealt to players. These are violations of our By-laws found here: www.GHTBL.org/by-laws.

We’ll see you this summer and in the meantime…swing away!



Orator Jim O’Rourke, Connecticut’s Brilliant Baseball Pioneer


One of most influential vintage baseball figures from the State of Connecticut was an Irish-American named Jim O’Rourke. The 5-feet-8-inches tall Bridgeport native wielded a mighty bat and famous mustache. As leadoff hitter for the Boston Red Stockings of 1876, he recorded the first official base hit in major league history. O’Rourke’s epic playing career spanned five decades. He also became a manager, umpire, team owner, league executive, attorney at law, civil rights advocate, father of eight children and a posthumous National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on September 1, 1850, James Henry O’Rourke was the son of Hugh and Catherine O’Rourke, immigrants from County Mayo, Ireland. O’Rourke came of age at Waltersville School and Strong’s Military Academy. He learned to play baseball with his older brother John O’Rourke on local clubs, including the Bridgeport Ironsides and Stratford Osceolas. Jim was a right-hander acclaimed as an expert batsman and a smart talker. In fact, O’Rourke was so unexpectedly eloquent that he earned the nickname “Orator Jim.”

Stratford Osceolas with Jim O’Rourke (standing, far right), 1871.

In 1872, O’Rourke was recruited by the Middletown Mansfields, thereby becoming a member of America’s first professional baseball league: the National Association. Middletown folded in August, but O’Rourke would land on his feet. The next season he signed with the powerhouse Boston Red Stockings. Alongside Al Spalding as well as George and Harry Wright, O’Rourke batted .350 – swinging Boston to a pennant win.

1872 Middletown Mansfields

In the summer of 1874, O’Rourke became one of baseball’s first international ambassadors. Boston and Philadelphia performed America’s National Game before crowds in Ireland and England, but the trip was a strategic and financial failure. After returning to America, Boston laid claim to another pennant. O’Rourke led the way with a team-high 5 home runs while guarding first base. In 1875, he transitioned back to the outfield and helped Boston to a third straight pennant.

Boston Red Stockings with Jim O’Rourke (far left), 1874.

Beantown’s grip on the National Association resulted in the formation of the National League. O’Rourke decided to stay with Boston and recorded the league’s first base hit. The feat occurred on Opening Day, April 22, 1876, at the Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He swatted a single into left field. Though Boston committed 7 errors, they beat Philadelphia, who made 13 errors, by a score of 6-5.

Jim O’Rourke, Boston Red Caps, 1876.

O’Rourke’s breakout season came in 1877. He set a career-high with a .362 batting average and stood atop the National League with 68 runs scored, 20 walks and a .407 on-base percentage. His dominant play earned Boston another pennant (it was later discovered that second-place Louisville intentionally threw games). The following season, O’Rourke’s average slumped to .278, yet Boston defended first place with a 41-19 record.

Providence Grays with Jim O’Rourke (standing, third from right), 1879.

Due to complaints over wages during his time in Boston, O’Rourke became a notorious critic of management. In 1881, he accepted more responsibility as player-manager of the Buffalo Bisons. He played third base and paced the club with 105 hits. The Bisons achieved a winning record each season under O’Rourke’s direction from 1881 to 1884. Though Buffalo never won a title, O’Rourke set the standard for player-managers in 1884, with a .347 batting average on 162 hits.

Buffalo Baseball Club with Manager Jim O’Rourke (center), 1882.

Orator Jim garnered esteem for his leadership in Buffalo. He stood for excellence, sobriety, intellect and athleticism and was described as a non-drinking, non-smoking taskmaster. He might have stayed in Buffalo, if not struck by tragedy in 1883. O’Rourke’s second daughter, Anna, had suddenly died of an illness. The death led O’Rourke to move closer to home, and to sign with the New York Giants in 1885.

Polo Grounds (I), New York, 1886.

“The highest salaried ballplayer in the profession for 1885 will be James O’Rourke.”

The Pittsburgh Dispatch, 1885
1887 New York Giants with Jim O’Rourke (sitting front, left).

In New York, he was welcomed by owner John B. Day and manager Jim Mutrie. O’Rourke also joined future Hall of Famers: John Montgomery Ward, Buck Ewing, Tim Keefe, Mickey Welch and a close friend, Roger Connor from Waterbury, Connecticut. The Giants’ home field was the original Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan. While earning a league-leading $4,000 salary, Orator Jim proved to be an on-base stalwart and a dependable defender.

Jim O’Rourke, New York Giants, 1887.
Roger Connor, New York Giants, 1887.

During his tenure with the Giants, O’Rourke became a founding member of baseball’s first labor union: The Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players. The brotherhood fought for the employment rights of the players. An articulate and learned O’Rourke decided to enroll at Yale Law School to litigate for player rights. He took courses in the off-seasons, passed the Connecticut bar examination and was admitted to practice law on November 5, 1887.

Jim O’Rourke, New York Giants, 1887.
Jim O’Rourke, New York Giants, 1887.

O’Rourke and the New York Giants toppled the National League in 1888. They beat their opponents in 84 of 138 games. Then the Giants agreed to face St. Louis of the American Association in a postseason series. O’Rourke suffered a meager .222 hitting mark in ten playoff games, yet the Giants were victorious in what became known as the original World Series.

1888 New York Giants with O’Rourke (sitting front, right, #15).

In 1889, O’Rourke batted .321 with 81 RBI and 33 stolen bases at age 38. Showing no signs of middle-age, he spearheaded New York’s back-to-back campaign for the National League title. At the 1889 World Series, O’Rourke turned in the finest hitting display of his career. He mustered a .389 average, with 2 homers and 7 RBI, defeating the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in 6 of 9 games. O’Rourke and his teammates were stars of the baseball world.

John Montgomery Ward, Shortstop, New York Giants, 1888.
Jim O’Rourke, Catcher, New York Giants, 1889.

Though behind the scenes, O’Rourke and other players were irritated with club owners over the Reserve Clause. The policy allowed owners to retain players after their contracts had expired. Players could be traded, sold or released, but they could not initiate their own moves. Equipped with a law degree, O’Rourke followed the lead of his shortstop and fellow attorney, John Montgomery Ward. Together they protested and established the controversial Players League of 1890.

Jim O’Rourke, New York Giants, 1889 (c.)
Players League Base Ball Guide, 1890.

O’Rourke had a standout season with the renegade New York Giants of the Players League. He batted .360 with a career-high 9 home runs and 115 RBI across 111 games. The unsanctioned Giants finished in third place, but the Players League was short-lived. The loop had failed to turn a profit. O’Rourke and the Brotherhood were forced to negotiate a return to the National League.

1890 New York Giants of the Players League

In the summer of 1891, O’Rourke reappeared for his old team, the New York Giants of the National League. Despite being 40 years old, his bat remained reliable. O’Rourke, however, felt undervalued and openly expressed his discontent. After playing two final seasons in New York, he secured another player-manager role in 1893. This time, he became field general of the Washington Nationals, hitting .287 in 129 games during his last full season in the major leagues.

New York Base Ball Club, 1891.

O’Rourke suited up for eight clubs over 23 major league seasons. The pride of Bridgeport ended his major league career with 2,643 hits, 62 home runs, 1,203 RBI and a .311 batting average. He had the most hits of any 19th century big leaguer other than Cap Anson. O’Rourke had been an integral part of eight championship clubs, but he wasn’t yet done with baseball.

Jim O’Rourke, 1891.

Less than a year later, O’Rourke was back on the diamond. In 1894, he umpired in the National League and at the college level for Yale University. Unfortunately, lackluster reviews of his calls led to O’Rourke’s exit from the job in mid-June. He went back to playing the game by performing at catcher for St. Joe’s amateur club of Bridgeport on Saturday afternoons.

Jim O’Rourke, 1895 (c.)

O’Rourke spent most of his time in Bridgeport, where he practiced law and cared for his family. Father to seven daughters, he was a proponent of women’s suffrage and civil rights. Orator Jim was active in civic affairs as a member of Royal Arcanum, Bridgeport Elks and Knights of Columbus. He was a self-described “Teddy Roosevelt Democrat” who ran for the Connecticut General Assembly in 1894 but lost in a Republican-leaning election.

Bridgeport Elks Lodge No. 36, 1905 (c.)

The following year, new train services allowed for a professional loop: the Connecticut State League. O’Rourke was elected President. As head of the league, he limited player salaries to $800 per month. He was a stakeholder in several teams including Waterbury. O’Rourke also guided the Bridgeport Victors club as player-manager.

The Meriden Journal, January 11, 1895.

The Connecticut State League dissolved midseason on July 10, 1895. Despite the setback, O’Rourke and Bridgeport continued to compete against clubs like Meriden and Hartford. O’Rourke played in just eight games that summer. Instead, he focused on developing his team. When he recruited Harry Herbert, a black outfielder from Bridgeport, O’Rourke rebelled against racial norms. Herbert played four seasons for the Victors.

1896 (c.) Bridgeport Victors

As an Irishman, a denigrated nationality at the time, O’Rourke used sport to quell ethnic stereotypes. He also used his influence to organize a new circuit in 1896. With help from local baseball leaders, Orator Jim created the Naugatuck Valley League. At catcher and manager for Bridgeport, he smashed a league-high .437 average and the Victors won the title.

Jim O’Rourke, Player-manager, Bridgeport Orators, 1898.

Bridgeport reentered the Connecticut State League in 1897. O’Rourke was no longer president of the league, but he wielded considerable power in local baseball matters. In 1898, O’Rourke ordered the construction of a new minor league stadium on his family’s farmland. Located in Bridgeport’s East End, the field was called Newfield Park. That same year, the Bridgeport club was renamed the “Orators” in O’Rourke’s honor.

1906 Bridgeport Orators

Jim O’Rourke spent fifteen eventful years as player-manager of the Bridgeport club. His players affectionately called him “Uncle Jeems.” From 1903 to 1908, O’Rourke managed and competed alongside his son James O’Rourke Jr. After playing for his father, young Jimmy O’Rourke signed with the New York Highlanders, predecessors of the New York Yankees.

1906 Bridgeport Orators

To the surprise of the entire baseball world, Jim O’Rourke Sr. was called up for one last major league game in 1904. Manager John McGraw of the New York Giants started the 54 year old at catcher on the final day of the season. O’Rourke handled a complete game from pitcher Joe McGinnity, beating Cincinnati 7-5, while going 1-for-4 at the plate. To this day, O’Rourke holds the major league record as the oldest player with a base hit.

Jim O’Rourke, 1906.

On June 14, 1910, Jim’s wife of 38 years, Annie O’Rourke, passed away from complications of a fall. About a year later his brother John died of a heart attack in Boston. Jim O’Rourke endured these tumults and kept up with the Connecticut State League. He served as a league official on several occasions, either as secretary or president. On September 14, 1912, O’Rourke made his final on-field appearance with New Haven. He recorded a single at the age of 62.

Jim O’Rourke Sr. (left) and Jim O’Rourke Jr., 1908 (c.)

When he was 68, O’Rourke was afflicted by pneumonia after walking in a blizzard. He died seven days later on January 8, 1919, and was laid to eternal rest at St. Michael’s Cemetery, in Stratford, Connecticut. O’Rourke was survived by seven children and his sister, Sarah O’Rourke Grant. He was a beloved hero of Bridgeport who personified the American Dream. O’Rourke’s his rags-to-riches story inspired multiple generations of adoring baseball fans.

Jim O’Rourke, Manager, Bridgeport 1909 (c.)

Orator Jim was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 by the Old-Timers Committee. According to baseball historian, Bill James, O’Rourke’s Cooperstown plaque, “summarizes his career but is far too small to reflect the scope of his contributions to the game. As a pioneer player, union organizer and early minor-league executive, James Henry ‘Orator’ O’Rourke was an exemplary figure, one eminently worthy of baseball’s highest accolade.”

Jim O’Rourke’s National Baseball Hall of Fame plaque.

“He has made a brilliant record for himself as an outfielder, being an excellent judge of a ball, a swift runner, and making the most difficult running catches with the utmost ease and certainty. His average each season has proved him to be in the front rank in handling the bat, and shows that his usefulness is not merely confined to his fielding abilities. He has always enjoyed the reputation of being a thoroughly reliable and honest player, and one who works hard for the best interests of the club. His gentlemanly conduct, both on and off the ball field, has won for him a host of friends.”

1885 Spalding Guide on Jim O’Rourke
Jim O’Rourke statue, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

“Baseball is for all creeds and nationalities.”

Jim O’Rourke, 1910
Jim O’Rourke’s gravesite, St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford, CT.

Sources

  1. “Jim O’Rourke” by Bill James, SABR Bio Project.
https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/jim-orourke-2/

2. Pittsburgh Dispatch via Newspapers.com.

3. Hall of Famer Jim O’Rourke from Cooperstown Cred.

4. Newfield Park: Home to One of New England’s Most Sacred Baseball Sites by Michael J. Bielawa.

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 All-Star Team Selections

The GHTBL is proud to present the 2021 All-star roster and alternates. GHTBL All-Stars will compete against both the Connecticut All-Stars (Friday, 8/20, 7 PM at Palmer Field, Middletown, Connecticut) and the George Donnelly Sunset League All-Stars (Sunday, 8/22, 4 PM at Dodd Stadium, Norwich, Connecticut).

Playoff Batting Leaders

PlayerTeamPositionGABRH2B3BHRRBISFSACBBHBPSOSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
Corey PlaskyEast Hartford Jets2B51831020020020230.5560.6000.6671.267
Travis SaloisRainbow GraphicsOF, P5183810160000200.4440.4440.6671.111
Gunnar JohnsonGunnar JohnsonM&T BankDH6227710240001800.3180.3480.6360.984
CipkasStanley CipkasRainbow GraphicsOF4124600140002240.5000.5710.7501.321
Jack HalpinVernon Orioles1B, P4172620010000000.3530.3530.4710.824
IMG 5237Matt CostanzaRainbow GraphicsSS5165620000022110.3750.5000.5001.000
Aedin Wadja South Windsor Phillies Baseball GHTBLAedin WadjaSouth Windsor Phillies2B3114610021011000.5450.5710.6361.208
Justin MillerM&T BankOF6172610030010100.3530.3890.4120.801
Tyler RepoliRainbow Graphics1B, P5172621070020100.3530.4210.5881.009
Shaun CallahanShaun CallahanM&T BankOF6163610180030600.3750.4740.6251.099

Playoff Pitching Leaders

PlayerTeamPositionGGSWLCGSHOSVIPHRERHRHBPBBSOERAWHIP
Camden Murphy MT Bank Baseball GHTBLCamden MurphyM&T BankP222020014156511272.501.29
Jim SchultEast Hartford JetsOF, P522020014722014241.000.86
Darrion Williams East Hartford Jets GHTBL 2Darrion WilliamsEast Hartford JetsOF, P221121014954203162.000.86
Charlie Hesseltine Record Journal Expos Baseball GHTBLCharlie Hesseltine-P11011001195301341.911.18
IMGP0022GriffinJohn Griffin-P221000010944040102.801.30
Eric Malinoswki MT Bank Baseball GHTBLEric MalinowskiM&T BankP22200001072202391.401.20
Matt Smith M&T Bank Baseball GHTBLMatt SmithM&T BankP21010009633005142.331.22
Luke Mathewson South Windsor Phillies Baseball GHTBLLuke MathewsonSouth Windsor PhilliesP, UTIL1100000773300393.001.43
jd baseballJD TylerRecord-Journal ExposOF, P1101100764110121.001.00
Shane Bogli Vernon Orioles Baseball GHTBLShane BogliVernon OriolesOF, P1101100795502045.001.57
Jason Ray South Windsor Phillies GHTBL 1Jason RayVernon OriolesP11101007322110132.000.57
Trevor MoultonSouth Windsor PhilliesP1110100773300423.001.57
Ryan SkaffRainbow GraphicsP11000006.297700327.901.94
Taylor KosakowskiEast Hartford Jets1B, OF, P10100006.210000060.000.16
Casey Johnson South Windsor Phillies Baseball GHTBLCasey JohnsonSouth Windsor PhilliesP1100000676611317.001.83
Trevor NohillyBristol GreenersOF, P1101100683300023.501.33
Brendan O’Connell-OF, P11100005.155301004.121.18
Zachary ZajacZachary ZajacM&T BankP40000015.174410245.491.76
IMG 5204Evan Chamberlain-P, UTIL3101000572200172.801.60
Ian HalpinVernon OriolesINF, P4010000550000210.001.40

All-Star Match Ups

DateGameTime/ResultsArticle

Tight Race in the Twi-Loop

Last night Jack Blake homered for the East Hartford Jets beating People’s United Bank 7-2. Cole Lalli earned his third win and the Jets moved to 5 and 1 on the year.

Having completed one third of the 2021 GHTBL Regular Season, the frontrunning East Hartford Jets and Vernon Orioles lead the standings.

The season title is very much up for grabs now that the Orioles have hit a 2-game skid. Meanwhile, Rainbow Graphics and South Windsor Phillies are lurking in a tie for third place.

Other honorable mention teams are Ulbrich Steel and Malloves Jewelers. So far shortstop, Sam DeMaio of Steel leads the league in hits and triples. Mike Munson has three homers for the Jewelers.

For all league wide statistics, go to GHTBL.org/stats.

2021 Season to Feature Top Ballparks

The GHTBL is pleased to announce a full schedule for the 2021 Regular Season.

The first games of the year will take place at Muzzy Field on May 25th. Three teams will get a head start on the season in a doubleheader; the Bristol Greeners will host the Hartford Colts at 6 PM and then the South Windsor Phillies at 8 PM.

Nick Hock, starting pitcher of the expansion Hartford Colts will look to mow down batters while the Greeners, led by player-manager AJ Lorenzetti, will seek to defend their home turf.

Manager Ron Pizzanello of the 2020 Regular Season title winning South Windsor Phillies are hoping for continued success in 2021. Returning Phillies like Jake Petrozza, Trevor Moulton and Dorian Tanasi are eager for another title.

Last year’s Playoff Championship matchup will rematch on June 2nd at McKenna Field. The East Hartford jets in the Vernon orioles will do battle for early-season bragging rights. Both teams have a significant number of new players who will be sure to make an impact on the league in 2021.

Games will also be held at Palmer Field in Middletown for the second edition of Hardball For Heroes. The league will host five matchups on June 13th, four of which at Palmer. $10 tickets will be available at the main gate (free for kids 14 and under).

Then, on July 8th another charity series is planned at Hartford’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park. The event is being dubbed Crush Cancer Night, raising funds for Connecticut Cancer foundation. $10 tickets will be available at the main gate (free for kids 14 and under).

This year‘s playoff tournament will take place beginning August 3rd at Palmer Field in Middletown and McKenna Field in East Hartford. $10 tickets for the entire tournament will be available at the main gate (free for kids 14 and under).

See this years full schedule at GHTBL.org/schedule.

Krajewski & Powell Return to the Vernon Orioles

The GHTBL Executive Committee has recently welcomed Steve Krajewski and Kevin Powell back to league. They will support Manager Jack Ceppetelli with club operations serving as General Manager and Assistant General Manager.

Steve Krajewski grew up in Rockville, Connecticut, and attended Rockville High School. Before his freshman year at the age of 13 years old Krajewski played for the Vernon Orioles in a GHTBL game.  More than likely, he was the youngest player in league history. Krajewski also played American Legion and eventually suited up for Eastern Connecticut State University for head baseball coach Bill Holowaty. He restarted his twilight career in 1974 after finishing the American Legion program. As a Vernon Oriole, he had 333 RBI, a .331 batting average and 55 home runs. He was selected to the GHTBL All-Star team 10 times. He led the league in hits and average in 1988.

Steve Krajewski of the Vernon Orioles (right), 1990.

Krajewski enjoyed playing for long time friend, coach, sponsor and GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee Frank J. McCoy. Krajewski also took great pride in representing his hometown of Vernon. He coached Vernon’s American Legion program for three years and then managed the Vernon Orioles for two years, winning the 1999 GHTBL Playoff Championship. Krajewski spent nearly 30 years with the Vernon Orioles and now returns as General Manager. He was inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame 1995 and the Rockville High School Hall of Fame in 2014. He is now retired after working for the Town of Vernon as the Vernon Parks and Recreation Assistant Director for 42 years.

Steve Krajewski, General Manager, Vernon Orioles, 2021.

Born on December 14, 1959, Kevin Powell grew up in Brooklyn, New York and attended St. Francis Prep. There he earned a City Championship and was recruited to play at Iona College. He later became player-manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball Club in the New York City Baseball League. Powell was the 1985 recipient of the league’s Walter Alston Memorial Award given for dedication to the game, on and off the field. He moved north to Connecticut and was a member of the Vernon Orioles under Frank McCoy (1990-1994). He has returned in 2021 to work with Orioles Manager Jack Ceppetelli as Assistant General Manager. Kevin currently resides in Coventry, CT with wife Karen and daughter Kristen.

Kevin Powell, Assistant General Manager, Vernon Orioles, 2021.

The Vernon Orioles look forward to the 2021 Regular Season. Vernon’s twilight team, loyal baseball fans and proud community will be hard to beat this summer. As for the Orioles roster, veteran players like the Trubia brothers, Tyler Pogmore and Jordan English will welcome newer, younger players to the franchise this season. Vernon has won a total of 9 Regular Season titles and 6 Playoff Championships since entering the GHTBL in 1966. The Vernon Orioles start the 2021 regular season against the East Hartford Jets on June 2nd at 7 PM, McKenna Field, Remington Road, East Hartford.

Jordan English, OF/P, Vernon Orioles.

Greater Hartford’s Own Jose Birriel

Jose A. Birriel was born on November 14, 1964 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a young man Birriel showed great athletic ability, especially as a left handed batter and first baseman. The Boston Red Sox signed him at 18 years old. In his first year as a professional Birriel banged 10 home runs, 56 RBI and a .351 average for Elmira of the New York Penn League. The following season he led the Florida State League in fielding percentage, assists, putouts and double plays while hitting 16 homers for the Winter Haven Red Sox.

Hartford Courant excerpt, July 2, 1988.

By 1986, Jose Birriel was called up to the Double-A New Britain Red Sox. He quickly earned a reputation as a top defensive first basemen in the Eastern League. In 1987, Birriel had a breakout season with 10 home runs, 57 RBI, a .292 batting average, and a .991 fielding percentage in 117 games played. Birriel spent 7 years in the Boston Red Sox organization. During this time, he was selected to 4 minor league all-star games, set the all-time club record for most runs batted in, and on occasion, the lefty also showed a knack for pitching.

Jose Birriel, First Baseman, Society for Savings, 1990.
Hartford Courant excerpt, June 29, 1990.
Hartford Courant excerpt, June 29, 1990.

Birriel was eventually promoted to Triple-A with the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1988. However he was only given 21 at bats and had 2 hits. He was released from the Red Sox that same year. The following summer Birriel was living in Hartford and joined the Society for Savings ball club in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. As a member of Tom Abbruzzese’s team, Birriel hit 6 home runs in 62 at bats and was named an all-star. Birriel played a final season in the Mexican League in 1991 before ending his baseball career.

New Britain Red Sox hat.
Jose Birriel career stats, Baseball-Reference.com.

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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

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

Twi-Loop is Off and Running

GHTBL completes first week without a hitch.

Amidst a global pandemic, the GHTBL is playing baseball in 2020. Our 12-game Regular Season schedule is underway and the first week has been completed. Managers, players and fans are excited to be back. Without any unforeseen hiccups or health scares, local amateur baseball looks like it is here to stay.

Most recently, GHTBL was featured by John Pierson of News Channel 8 Sports. He highlighted the league’s history and its prospects for the future. Gabby Lucivero of NBC Connecticut also interviewed Justin Morhardt of People’s United Bank and his family, who have a long baseball tradition in the Twilight League and professional baseball. 

Four notable minor league players have joined the league this season. Willy Yahn for People’s United Bank as well as Matt Cleveland, Jimmy Titus and Jack Patterson for the Vernon Orioles. A mix of young players and veterans will create great matchups all year long. 

Current college athletes in the GHTBL will be earning valuable experience this summer. Hard-throwing pitchers and fast paced games are the repetitions that players need to improve. The Twilight League is flooded with arms who throw over 88 MPH and pitcher’s duels are not uncommon. However, some teams like the Record-Journal Expos and the East Hartford Jets have managed to put up big run totals thus far.

The league, led by President Bill Holowaty, is proud to be playing the game we all love. Come on out and support baseball in Greater Hartford by attending a game. Regular Season admission is free. Our annual double-elimination playoff tournament is scheduled for early-to-mid August and will take place at McKenna Field in East Hartford and Ceppa Field in Meriden, Connecticut.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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. 

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

  • Monday, August 5, 20196:00 PM 
    Wednesday, August 14, 20198:00 PM
  • Trinity College, Broad Street, Hartford, CT, United States (map)
  • Google Calendar  ICS

A double elimination playoff tournament featuring all 8 GHTBL franchises.

$5 Admission Fee per night – Free for kids 14 and under.

Seeding, game times and more details to be announced.

2019 GHTBL Regular Season Preview

Twilight League to reap benefits of developmental off season work.

The GHTBL, Connecticut’s premier amateur baseball league has made preparations for its 91st season.  Our 2019 Regular Season begins May 28th – Opening Day at Henry Park in Vernon at 6 PM, featuring defending champions, the Vernon Orioles vs. Rainbow Graphics.

As the season nears, we’d like to recognize Bill Holowaty and Andy Baylock, two of Connecticut’s greatest baseball dignitaries who sit atop the GHTBL Executive Committee.  Holowaty, a 4-time National Champion with ECSU enters his third season as President while Baylock, the former head baseball coach at UConn and 2-time Big East Champion serves as Vice President.  Holowaty and Baylock are GHTBL alumni themselves and aim to revive the prestige of the league.  They’ve led fundraising efforts, acquired top-notch baseball venues, and challenged league managers to recruit and compete at a higher level than in recent years.

This season, 8 revamped franchises will field a mix of collegiate ballplayers and several ex-professionals.  A new (and old) Middletown-based franchise, Malloves Jewelers has returned to the Twi-loop after a 25-year hiatus.  Malloves contended in the league from 1980 to 1993 under then owner, Jerome “Buzzy” Levin who passed away in 2017.  His son and proprietor of Malloves, Marc Levin, has stepped up as team sponsor and General Manager.  Levin  tapped former ECSU baseball captain and Cromwell High School head coach, Christian Budzik to be Manager.  The team will play home games at Palmer Field and at the newly constructed, Buzzy Levin Field in Middletown.

Other GHTBL franchises will return this summer vying for a league title.  In the West Division, People’s United Bank will sponsor a franchise yet again, backing Manager Tom Abbruzzese in his 43rd GHTBL season.  People’s will call Trinity College home and will feature Justin Morhardt, fresh off a professional stint in the Atlanta Braves organization.  A rebranded Ulbrich Steel team will test its metal with a revamped roster, including Will Musson, former UConn standout and 7-year veteran of professional baseball in France and Australia.  Charlie Hesseltine, Meriden native and former Atlantic League pitcher will step in as first-year Manager of the Record-Journal Expos

The East Division is also expected to provide parity.  The Vernon Orioles, behind Manager Jack Ceppetelli will seek their seventh straight Regular Season title.  The South Windsor Phillies franchise led by their General Manager and Reading Phillies Hall of Fame inductee, Gary Burnham Jr. will field a few pro-caliber players; Mike Hepple formerly in the New York Mets farm system and Kyle Richards, who made it to double-A with in the Kansas City Royals organization.

Almost an entirely new group of ballplayers have joined the East Hartford Jets franchise, led by their new Manager, Taylor Kosakowski, former closer at CCSU and Jimmy Schult, center fielder and 2011 D-III Player of the Year at ECSU.  Rainbow Graphics, a printing and embroidery business based in Manchester sponsors the same franchise that traces back to the 1960’s when Gene Johnson and his Moriarty Brothers club reigned supreme at Mount Nebo ParkRyan Pandolfi and Tyler Repoli will co-manage the Rainbow Graphics squad. 

2019 GHTBL Schedule of Events

July 14th – Hardball for Heroes Series at Palmer Field in Middletown – 4 ball games benefiting American Legion Post 75.

July 21st – #spreadingORANGE Series for MS at Dunkin’ Donuts Park – 4 ball games benefiting MS4MS, a national organization founded in Connecticut who fund Multiple Sclerosis research through Johns Hopkins Medicine.

August 2-11 ­– Playoff Tournament at Trinity College and Palmer Field – an 8 team, double-elimination tournament.


Did you know?
More than 350 professional ballplayers have competed in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League since the league was founded.  MLB All-stars Jeff BagwellBernie WilliamsRob Dibble and Ricky Bottalico played in the GHTBL.  Most recently in 2018, left-handed pitcher for the Vernon Orioles and graduate of University of Bryant, Jack Patterson, was drafted in the 32nd round by the Chicago Cubs and now pitches for the South Bend Cubs of the Midwest League (single-A).

For more information about the league visit: GHTBL.org/history

For the full 2019 GHTBL Regular Season schedule: GHTBL.org/schedule

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

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.

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. 

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!

Orioles Win 5th Straight Regular Season Title

The Vernon Orioles had a near perfect season.

The Vernon Orioles won their fifth consecutive Regular Season Championship, making 2017 one their best years ever and one of the most dominating in GHTBL history. Stellar pitching and plenty of slugging led to one of the best Orioles teams the franchise has run out in decades.

Many congratulations to their longtime Manager, Jack Ceppetelli and veterans such as Nick Roy and Dan Trubia who each ranked in the Top 5 of hitting categories this season.

The Orioles enter the 2017 Playoff Tournament with a bye as the #1 seed and will face the winner of the #4 seeded Ulbrich Clippers vs. #5 seeded 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: A 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, providing 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.

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

GHTBL All-Stars Fall to New Britain Bees 18-6

After leading in the 6th inning, the amateurs eventually lose to the professionals.

GHTBL All Stars led by a handful of former professional ballplayers and several former NCAA athletes matched up against the New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League on April 15th at New Britain Stadium.

This pre-season exhibition match-up served as an early start and a fun day for local baseball fans. The final score was 18-6 in favor of the Bees, though the GHTBL All Stars led 6-5 through six innings of play.

Wes Hurty, Catcher, GHTBL All Stars, 2017.

Vernon Orioles catcher, Wes Hurty had a good day with a run-scoring double. Ulbrich Clippers hurler, James Kukucka threw a perfect inning in relief and Manchester Braves pitcher/outfielder, Mark DiTommaso chipped in with an RBI single and a solid inning on the mound. Jack Ceppetelli, Manager of the 2016 Playoff and Regular Season Champions Vernon Orioles managed for the GHTBL All Stars.

Our league looks forward to taking on the New Britain Bees in the years to come! A special thanks goes out to the Bees GM, Gerry Berthiaume and their Legal Consel, Jamie Goldman for organizing the day.

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.