Tag: amateur

Johnny Taylor Field Charity Series at Dunkin’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Taylor (left) and Satchel Paige, 1942.

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

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

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

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

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

NBC Connecticut covers Johnny Taylor Field renaming.

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

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

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

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

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. 

GHTBL Joins ABCA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Workouts for Twi-Leaguers & Prospects

860Baseball of Hartford hosts GHTBL and new recruits.

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

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

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

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

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

GHTBL Executive Committee Holds Winter Meeting

President Holowaty leads plans for 2020 season.

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

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

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

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

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

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