Tag: greater hartford

Bernie Williams Began his Career in the Twilight League

Before achieving stardom with the New York Yankees, Bernie Williams spent a summer in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. The story started when Williams was 16 years old. He was discovered by Yankees scout Roberto Rivera in Puerto Rico, however the right-handed outfielder was too young to sign a contract. The Yankees decided to stash Williams in Connecticut at Big League Baseball Camp on the campus of Cheshire Academy. His camp instructor, Frank Mohr, recruited Williams to play for GHTBL’s Katz Sports Shop team in the summer of 1985.

Bernie Williams’ signed Katz Sports Shop jersey, 1985.

As a teenaged prospect, Williams saw limited playing time in the twilight league among college-level competition. In 20 at bats for Katz Sports Shop, he had 4 hits. The team’s player-manager, Dave Katz once reminisced of Williams: “He was a really nice kid. He was shy, like he is now. He was so quiet, you didn’t even know he had a Spanish accent. Everybody on the team took to him. One thing does stick out in my mind. I hate to mention this; he dropped a routine fly ball in one game. But I remember my first baseman telling me that people at the camp said Bernie had all the tools.”

Bernie Williams, Outfielder, New York Yankees, 1993.

The Yankees signed Williams as an undrafted free agent by September of 1985. It was the start of a 20-year professional career, solely with the Yankees. Williams played rookie ball in Florida’s Gulf Coast League and spent six years in the minors developing into a switch-hitter. He broke into the majors in 1991 and became a fixture in center field at Yankee Stadium until 2006.

Bernie Williams featured in Record-Journal, 1996.

Williams was a 4-time World Series champion with the second most postseason home runs (22) in major league history behind Manny Ramirez (29). Williams compiled a career .297 batting average, 287 home runs, 1,257 RBI, 1,366 runs scored, 449 doubles and a .990 fielding percentage. He earned five All-Star selections and four Gold Glove Awards, a Silver Slugger Award, the 1996 AL Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award and the American League (AL) batting title in 1998.

Bernie Williams, Outfielder, New York Yankees, 1998.
Bernie Williams, Outfielder, New York Yankees, 2005.

Known for consistency and postseason heroics, Bernie Williams is considered one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history. He is also an all-time New York Yankees great. The team honored Williams by retiring his uniform number (#51) and dedicating a plaque to him in Monument Park in 2015. Nowadays, he is an accomplished jazz guitarist. Following his retirement from baseball, Williams released two jazz albums and was nominated for a Latin Grammy.

Record-Journal newspaper excerpt, 2015.

Author’s aside: The baseball world took Bernie Williams for granted. We did not realize the magnitude and depth of his career while he was an active player. What a story and what an interesting character. Much love Bernie!

Sources

  1. Bernie Williams page on Baseball-Reference.com

2. Record-Journal newspaper database on Newspapers.com.

Hartford Twilight Manager Spotlight: Tom Abbruzzese

Since 1976, Tom Abbruzzese has managed the same Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League franchise. Abbruzzese initially managed Society for Savings Bank with his father, Mike Abbruzzese. They fielded strong teams rostered by the likes of Mark Riemer, David Gale and Kevin Gieras. Society for Savings eventually became Bank of Boston and then People’s Bank in the summer of 2000. The franchise has amassed fifteen Regular Season and Playoff Championships. The “Bankers” have recruited and advanced numerous professional players to and from the GHTBL year after year. With Abbruzzese at the helm, People’s remains a perennial contender.

Hartford Courant excerpt, June 21, 1981.
2009 People’s Bank

Born on August 11, 1943, in Hartford, Connecticut. Abbruzzese is the longest serving GHTBL manager in history. He is a graduate of Wethersfield High School and Fairfield University (1965). Then he worked for the Hartford Parks Department for a brief period. In 1971, Abbruzzese organized and coached a team in the Junior and Senior Division of the Jaycee Courant League who played home games at Hartford’s Colt Park. His team was sponsored by team sponsored by Society for Savings, a regional bank with staying power in Hartford. Abbruzzese then entered Society for Savings into the GHTBL during the summer of 1976.

Tom Abbruzzese holds mound meeting, 2019.
Manager Tom Abbruzzese at Dunkin Donuts Park, Hartford, Connecticut, 2019.

Abbruzzese earned a Doctorate of Education from the University of Connecticut (1996). His current profession is as Director of Adult Education, in Newington, Connecticut.  Previously he was a Vice Principal of Ledyard High School Ledyard High School (1974-1995) and before that, Recreation Leader for the City of Hartford (1963-1976), According to Abbruzzese, he’s, “thankful not only for the outstanding players I have had the privilege of coaching and continue to have, but most importantly for their exceptional character as well. These two qualities are the ingredients for success.” Abbruzzese resides in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

Manager Tom Abbruzzese, People’s United Bank, 2020
Tom Abbruzzese (right) accepts GTHBL service award, 2020.
Manager Tom Abbruzzese at Dunkin Donuts Park, Hartford, Connecticut, 2021.

2021 GHTBL Award Winners

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

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

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

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

AJ Hendrickson, P/C, Record-Journal Expos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 19 – 4th Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament

  • Sunday, September 19, 2020 at Blackledge Country Club, 180 West Street, Hebron (map)
  • 12:00 PM – Lunch and Check-in
  • 1:00 PM – Shotgun Tee-off
  • 5:30 PM – Dinner and Awards Banquet
  • $125 per golfer
  • $450 per foursome
  • $30 for dinner only
  • $100 for Tee Sign sponsorship

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION & SPONSORSHIP FORM

Jets Top Orioles, Snagging Second Straight Playoff Championship

On August 15, 2021, the East Hartford Jets only needed a single game to tame the Vernon Orioles in the Playoff Championship round of GHTBL’s 2021 Playoff Tournament. Player-manager Taylor Kosakowski fielded his best-hitting lineup, although Jeff Criscuolo had to come out of the game in the early stages due to a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Manager Jack Ceppetelli of the O’s played his trusted group of veterans, who had already earned the 2021 Regular Season title. On average, both the Orioles and the Jets are comprised of some of the most experienced twilight league players, but the Jets are the younger team when compared to the O’s.

Age would not be much of factor, however, since quality performances came from players young and old. Jets starting pitcher Bryan Albee (21) and Orioles starter Matt Curtis (19) showed stamina and strength amidst long, hard-fought outings. Albee earned a 6-inning win while allowing only 2 runs.

Former independent leaguers and veteran players like Orioles shortstop, Tony Trubia and Jets outfielder/pitcher, Jimmy Schult have led their clubs by example during the summer and throughout the playoffs.Trubia and Schult each had impactful RBIs in the first O’s vs. Jets matchup at the semi-final stage of the playoffs. Schult would again come through with a timely base hit in the championship game leading to a 2-run double by Jets first baseman, Jack Blake.

Although Matt Curtis pitched a complete game, his strong effort would fall short of the Jets 6th inning rally. Schult came into the game for the save in the bottom of the 7th inning. Despite a base hit by Tony Trubia, he would be the only O’s baserunner during the game’s last frame. Schult struck out Ian Halpin on an inside pitch and then made Tyler Pogmore swing and miss for the final out.

Congratulations to Taylor Kosakowski, Chris Kehoe and all of the East Hartford Jets on their second consecutive playoff championship. Can’t wait until next year!

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).

PlayerTeamPositionABRHRBI2B3BHRSBBBHBPSOSLGOBPAVG
Sam DeMaioSteelSS451118154300111100.6220.5170.400
Tony TrubiaOriolesSS441114470006050.4770.3920.318
A.J. HendricksonExposP, UTIL46111615401062100.5000.4440.348
Justin MillerPeople'sOF6210226310230100.4350.3790.355
Dan TrubiaOrioles3B5181311501011090.4120.3810.255
Jack RichExposOF, P599282291105290.7120.5150.475
Evan ChamberlainGraphicsP, UTIL32813530106160.5940.5130.406
Corey PlaskyJets2B56152155001012040.4640.4780.375
Ian HalpinOriolesINF2726310101060.3700.2500.222
Marcus FryGraphicsINF419161031213180.6590.4440.390
Taylor KosakowskiJets1B, P35712510102020.4570.3780.343
Mike MunsonJewelersP58121615404020130.5520.3000.276
Weston UlbrichColtsDH, 3B33612730115140.5450.4620.364
A.J. LorenzettiGreenersC, P53517652014280.4910.3900.321
Edison GalanGraphicsOF58151915222450110.5340.3640.328
Jordan EnglishOriolesOF, P29911440108340.6210.5500.379
Brendan LynchPeople'sSS, 3B401215940339240.7000.5000.375
Eric PrestonPeople'sC, OF473169502021150.5740.3800.340

PlayerTeamPositionGSWLSVSHOIPHRERBBSOHRHBPCGWHIPERA
Matt CurtisOriolesINF, P4400123.118544220111.001.21
Justin MarksExposOF, P652003730251927501411.653.59
Mark DamaschiJetsP3400026.219777351211.071.87
Evan ChamberlainGraphicsP, UTIL5200028201077250111.001.75
Charlie HesseltineExposP431002518856351030.961.40
Nick HockColtsP644124934201416490721.162.00
Luke MathewsonPhilliesP42200281910813441211.212.00
Nick PaaschGraphicsP4001018.154215290101.160.77
Trevor MoultonPhilliesOF, P624104336261610360221.122.60

All-Star Match Ups

DateGameTimeArticle

Vernon Orioles Clinch Regular Season Title

Congratulations to Manager Jack Ceppetelli and every member of the Vernon Orioles on their pennant-winning 2021 Regular Season. Featuring three sets of brother, the Orioles used timely hitting and superior pitching performances to pull off relative domination of the twilight league.

Tyler Pogmore, Tony Trubia and Jordan English ranked among league leaders in batting. Matt Curtis and Bill Riggieri pitched most effectively for Vernon throughout the season.

June and July were highly successful months for the Orioles, but they will seek the ultimate prize in August as the top seed in the 2021 Playoff Tournament. The postseason will be held at Palmer Field in Middletown and at McKenna Field in East Hartford.

The Orioles (14-3) have won their eighth Regular Season title in the last nine years while overall, they have won a combined 16 season titles and playoff championships.

August 20 – GHTBL All-Stars vs. CTL All-Stars

Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League and Connecticut Twilight League will play a postseason interleague All-Star game at 7 PM on Friday, August 20, 2021.

This year, GHTBL will host the exhibition at Palmer Field on Bernie O’Rourke Drive in Middletown, Connecticut. The 9-inning game will mark the sixth contest between GHTBL and CTL in which GHTBL has remained undefeated.

Aside from several rainouts, both league’s regular seasons are going as planned. After a champions are crowned, managers will decide on all-star selections. These all-star matchups allow each league to showcase many of our best players. Participants, parents and fans are welcomed to attend the exhibition at no charge.

As always, we thank you for your continued support.

We will see you at the ballpark! Free admission!

GHTBL East Hartford Jets 2020 Playoff Champions

August 7 to 16 – 2021 Playoff Tournament

On August 7, 2021, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League will begin our postseason at Palmer Field in Middletown, Connecticut. Consolation bracket games will start August 8, 2021 at McKenna Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. Our annual double-elimination playoff tournament will conclude at McKenna Field as shown below:



Admission: $10 per person for a ticket to the entire tournament. Free for kids 14 and under.

Stay tuned for weather-related postponements and announcements at www.GHTBL.org.

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.