Tag: middletown

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.

Hardball For Heroes at Palmer Field

4 games to benefit the American Legion on Sunday, June 13, 2021.

  • 8 GHTBL teams* will play 4 games in a single day at Palmer Field to benefit the American Legion. 
     
  • $10 tickets are being sold at Malloves Jewelers at 404 Main Street Middletown, CT and will be available at the main gate on the day of the event.
     
  • Free for all veterans, military service members and kids 14 and under.

RECAP: Fans and donors allowed the GHTBL to donate $750 to the American Legion of Middletown Post 75.

*On the same day, the Vernon Orioles will take on the South Windsor Phillies at Henry Park in Vernon at 5 PM, where fans will be asked to donate to the cause.

Vernon Orioles Win 5th Consecutive Championship

Manager Jack Ceppetelli’s franchise is a cut above the rest.

The 2019 GHTBL Playoff Tournament finale featured Tom Abbruzzese’s People’s United Bank club versus the Vernon Orioles at Palmer Field in Middletown, Connecticut.  Abbruzzese as well as Orioles third baseman Dan Trubia were honored before the game by GHTBL President Bill Holowaty with a plaque of appreciation for their service to the Twilight League.  Afterwards, a near no-hitter thrown by lefty pitcher Paul Dougan led the O’s to a 10-1 victory. Celebrations in the parking lot ensued. 

Many Orioles players are veterans of the league, and experience has worked Vernon’s favor in recent years. The franchise has always been a mix of veterans who mentor and motivate younger players to improve. Veteran players like Matt Purnell, Dan and Tony Trubia, Tyler Pogmore, Peter Kelley and Jordan English made significant contributions this season.

As important were efforts made by more junior players. Brothers Ian and Jack Halpin, Zach Donahue and Alex Hoss stepped up in key spots throughout the season. Ian Halpin took home this year’s Ray McKenna Award (Player of the Year) and posted a .424 batting average, hit 4 home runs (2 in the playoffs), drove in 19 RBI and finished with a 1.112 OPS in the regular season.

This marks 5 years in row that Manager Jack Ceppetelli and the Vernon Orioles have captured the GHTBL Playoff Championships. The 2019 Season Title winner of the GHTBL was the Record-Journal Expos led by their manager and man on the mound, Charlie Hesseltine. Congratulations to all championship and award-winning players and managers.

Thank you sponsors and fans who supported the GHTBL this year – our 91st year in action.

A Baseball Pioneer from Connecticut, Benjamin Douglas Jr.

This article was written by David Arcidiacono

Benjamin Douglas Jr. of Middletown, Connecticut is a forgotten pioneer of early baseball. Of the six New England cities which have had major league baseball teams, Douglas started the original team in half of them. In 1848, Ben became the third of four sons born to a wealthy industrialist, Benjamin Douglas Sr. and his wife Mary. Douglas Sr. was owner of the Douglas Pump Factory, a prosperous business that had produced hydraulic pumps in Middletown for forty years. Douglas Sr. was a powerful man who once held several political offices including mayor of Middletown and Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut. Meanwhile, Douglas Jr. worked as clerk and timekeeper at the factory but found baseball much more interesting.

Douglas Pump Company with Ben Douglas Sr. and Ben Douglas Jr. (5th from right), 1868.
Ben Douglas Sr. Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut and father of Ben Douglas Jr.
Benjamin Douglas Jr., 1868.

At the age of sixteen, Ben, of whom it was later said “would go ten miles on foot, over any obstacles, rather than miss seeing a good game,” organized the Douglas factory’s ballclub. He originally designated the baseball nine the “Douglas Club”, but quickly changed the name to the “Mansfields” in honor of General Joseph Mansfield, a Civil War hero killed at the Battle of Antietam as well as young Ben’s great uncle.

Col. Joseph K. F, Mansfield, 1870.

Douglas played on the Mansfields for five seasons and he was largely responsible for the administrative duties. As the Mansfields began to take on a more professional character, the extent of these tasks grew to include scheduling games (a huge job in the days before pre-set schedules and telephones), making travel arrangements, signing players, and overseeing ticket sales and the club’s treasury. The burden became so large that Ben, who played only sparingly in 1870 when the Mansfields were voted amateur champions of the state, and was listed as a substitute for 1871, then never saw playing action for an organized team again.

Boston Base Ball Club vs. Mansfield Base Ball Club, 1872.

As the 1872 season approached, everything appeared to be in place for the Mansfields’ continued operation as amateurs. While arranging playing dates for the upcoming season, Ben contacted Harry Wright, manager of the Boston club, in hopes of enticing the popular Red Stockings back to Middletown for a game. Wright advised Douglas that the Red Stockings would only come back if the receipts were better than the previous year, when the gate money “did not come up to the expectations we were led to indulge in.”

Mansfields of Middletown taking part in a parade, 1872.

When negotiations failed, Wright suggested that if the Mansfields were truly interested in playing professional clubs then they should pay the $10 entry fee and join the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. If they did, the professional clubs would then have no choice but to play them. Inspired by Wright’s novel idea, Douglas gathered the Mansfields’ officers together and laid out his proposal to join the professional ranks. The idea was approved and Douglas sent the $10 entry fee, fulfilling the league’s sole requirement for entry.

Mansfields of Middletown schedule and results, 1872.

Despite Douglas’ hard work, the Mansfields folded in August 1872, beset by a lack of paying customers. The Middletown Constitutionnoted the passing of the team by saying, “Mr Benjamin Douglas Junior….has shown considerable pluck and ingenuity in bringing the club up to rank among the best in the country. He now retires with the best wishes of all concerned.”

Once the Mansfields ceased operations, most people felt there would never be another professional ballclub in Connecticut. Despite this, Douglas knew that the National Association still wanted a club located between New York and Boston but he was also painfully aware that a larger market than Middletown was required.

1875 Hartford Dark Blues

Convinced that Hartford was the answer, he became the driving force in returning professional baseball to Connecticut. A few months before the 1874 season, Douglas gathered Hartford’s prominent businessmen to an informational meeting regarding starting a professional team in Hartford. During the meeting Douglas convinced the men to open their wallets, explaining that professional baseball was not only good for the host city but also profitable to investors. His efforts resulted in over $5000 worth of pledges for a new Connecticut team.

Hartford Courant Courant excerpt, 1877.

Douglas was elected traveling secretary of the new Hartford Dark Blues and held that post for two years. During that span the Hartford club had some success, finishing second in 1875 after placing seventh their first season. Prior to the 1876 season when the Dark Blues became a charter members of the National League, Douglas declined reelection due to “business engagements.” The Hartford Times reported, “Mr. Douglas has worked hard for the interest of the Hartford club, and had it not been for him the Hartfords would not have attained the celebrity they have. It might be said that he laid the foundation stone of the club.” Douglas did remain peripherally connected with the team however, serving as one of the club’s directors.

Hartford Courant excerpt, March 5, 1878.

By 1877, Hartford’s National League entry had moved to Brooklyn. With the new vacancy in Hartford, Douglas began plans to return a team to Hartford. He again succeeded in raising over $4000. Unfortunately the new National League rule requiring cities to have a population of 75,000 people forced Douglas to move to Providence, Rhode Island to keep his baseball dreams alive. As he tended to the business of getting a new National League team up and running in that city, he had suspicions that somebody on the Providence team wanted to run him out of the manager’s position and was planting false stories about him. His fears were realized before the season began as the board of directors voted to relieve him of his duties as manager.

Harry Wright, Player-Manager, Boston Red Stockings.

Douglas refused to resign however, leading the directors to threaten to withhold the $1000 he had invested in the club unless he resigned. Douglas contacted Harry Wright hoping for some help:

“You know me Harry for many seasons. You know I have spent a large sum of money from [18]66 to [18]78 trying my level best to build up the Dear Old Game and now after my hard hard work here to be disgraced…It is not on account of drink for I do not drink. It is not on account of dishonesty for God knows I am honest. It is not on account of bad women for I care nothing for them. I have always tried to act the part of a gentleman and square man by all.”

“Did I not run the Champions of Conn 6 seasons, the Dear Old Mansfields of Middletown. Did I not break into the World of Manager 2 seasons the celebrated Hartfords, 2nd only to the Champion Bostons season of 75 and yet these greenhorns say my past record is good for nothing…I have lost 6 month’s time from business at home where I had steady salary of $1500/yr. I have spent money like water. First for Hartford where I raised $4000 this last season and only for action of League would have been there…Drew good clean money out of bk [bank] at home. My hard earnings paid Mesr [sp], Carey, York, Hines, Higham, Hague, Allison, Nichols, $700 – advance money last winter or I would lost them. Providence would have had no League team only for me, and this is my reward…Can you do anything for me Friend Harry. I don’t ask money Oh know for that I have enough only I do ask my friends in the game to protect against this outrage.”

Ben Douglas Jr. to Harry Wright, 1877.

Douglas received a flattering letter from Wright but it was too late to save his position. Douglas replied to Wright:

“Your kind communication of the 10th came duly to hand & I can assure you it gave me great comfort. These people know more about base ball then I do, in their minds. After making a dupe of me they threw me one side….I had to resign my place or be kicked out. I had my whole heart in it sure, but I won’t bother you further…I retire with the consciousness of having done my whole duty and in return have been snubbed. No more Rhode Island for me.”

Harry Wright to Ben Douglas Jr., 1877.

It was later reported that Providence forced Douglas’ out because he was arranging games with non-League clubs. This had been a common practice to gain more money. As Douglas told Harry Wright, “It’s a long jump from Providence to Chicago without getting one cent.” After leaving Providence, the Providence Dispatch reported that Douglas still held the support of many in the city who were “greatly in favor of Mr. Douglas, and, to speak the truth, he has been shamelessly used.” The team that Douglas assembled finished third in the six-team National League.

Within two weeks of leaving Providence, Douglas organized a team in New Haven and joined the International Association. Attendance was sparse and in a desperate attempt to keep his dream alive, Douglas moved the club to Hartford. Two months later the club was expelled from the league for nonpayment to a visiting club. The 1878 season spelled the end of Douglas’ baseball dream.

Hartford Courant excerpt, June 5, 1878.

He returned to Middletown and rejoined the family pump factory. In 1893, he married Nellie Sault, daughter of a Brooklyn foundry owner. This came as a surprise to Douglas’ friends who apparently were unaware of the 44-year-old Douglas’ relationship with the 20-year-old woman. In 1905, Ben Douglas died in Connecticut Hospital for the Insane where he had lived for five years.

Ben Douglas summed up his love of the game when he told Harry Wright, “You know Harry that my whole soul is in base ball.”

1879 Providence Grays captured the National League title after Ben Douglas Jr. departed the club.


Sources

Major League Baseball in Gilded Age Connecticut, by David Arcidiacono (McFarland, 2010)

Harry Wright Correspondence

Hartford Courant

Hartford Post

Hartford Times

Middletown Constitution

Middletown Penny Press

Middletown Tribune

2019 Playoff Tournament: August 5th to 14th

Postseason at Trinity College and Palmer Field.

The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is excited to announce the 2019 Playoff Tournament schedule and bracket. This year, the majority of the double-elimination tournament will be hosted at Trinity College in Hartford, from August 5th until the 12th. 

Then, the final two games of the playoffs will determine a champion at Palmer Field in Middletown on August 13th and 14th. The Record-Journal Expos and Vernon Orioles are the top seeds entering the GHTBL postseason.  Seeding has yet to be determined.

Twilight League Raises Funds for U.S. Veterans

Hardball for Heroes a success at Palmer Field.

On Sunday, July 14th at Palmer Field in Middletown, Connecticut, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League hosted four benefit games at an event dubbed Hardball for Heroes.  A ceremonial first pitch was thrown from the pitcher’s mound by Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, Ken McClellan, a combat veteran of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

In Game #1, the Vernon Orioles pulled off a comeback win over the East Hartford Jets by score of 7-6. Zach Donahue earned the complete game win for the O’s while the Halpin brothers, Jack and Ian stood out at the plate by bating home key RBI.

Game #2 featured the first place Record-Journal Expos and Tom Abbruzzese’s People’s United Bank club.  Justin Morhardt held the Expos at bay with a strong performance on the mound. Though the Expos proved to be victorious with a score of 2-1 thanks to a complete game effort by A.J. Hendrickson a game-tying home run blasted by Kyle Hartenstein and a walk-off single by Hector Gonzalez. 

The results of Game #3 were again decided by one run when Ulbrich Steel managed to tame Rainbow Graphics by a final of 3 to 2.  Matt Goldman earned the complete game win for Steel but was touched by an Evan Chamberlain homer to left. Late in the contest, Pete Barrows narrowly crossed the plate after a Rainbow passed ball. 

Game #4 witnessed a much improved Malloves Jewelers handling the South Windsor Phillies by a final score of 7-3.  Marvin Gorgas drilled a home run off of Phillies starting pitcher Shane Bogli in the 3rd inning.  Jared Pflaumer smacked two doubles in the contest and Malloves starter Johnny Martin earned the win.

The games were close, well-played and for a good cause. We were proud to support those men and women of the American Legion who have honorably served our nation. By the end of the day, $750 was raised for the American Legion Post 75. The GHTBL looks forward to hosting another Hardball for Heroes charity event once again in 2020.

For a full photo album from this event, CLICK HERE.

Hardball for Heroes at Palmer Field

4 games to benefit American Legion Post 75 on Sunday, July 14, 2019.

  • All 8 GHTBL teams will play 4 Regular Season games in a single day at Palmer Field to benefit the American Legion. 
     
  • $10 tickets are being sold at Malloves Jewelers at 404 Main Street Middletown, CT and will be available at the main gate on the day of the event.
     
  • Free for all veterans, military service members and kids 14 and under.

Malloves Jewelers Returning to Sponsor Middletown Team

Malloves previously sponsored a franchise from 1980 to 1993.

The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is pleased to welcome back a longtime team sponsor next season. Malloves Jewelers will once again support our Middletown-based franchise.   

From 1980 to 1993, Malloves Jewelers and their owner, Jerome “Buzzy” Levin were a vital part of the GHTBL. Buzzy would later be named to the GHTBL Hall of Fame (Sponsor Division) recognizing his generous support of the league. His son Marc Levin, current owner and President of Malloves Jewelers, graciously agreed to fund the existing Middletown team for their 2019 campaign. Marc is a GHTBL alumni himself who was part of the original Malloves team.

Marc Levin, Malloves Jewelers of Middletown.

Back then, Malloves featured pro-caliber players such as Middletown’s Bob Bruzik who became a shortstop in the Seattle Mariners farm system, John Giudice, outfielder at Eastern Connecticut State University who played in the Colorado Rockies system, Dave Guild of the University of Connecticut, and Chris Thomas, a Stetson University graduate and minor league catcher in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.  Other standout players were pitcher, Todd Mogren, outfielder, Carl Vazquez, third basemen, Pete Daniels and catcher Jay Hickey

Pete Daniels, Dave Guild and Bill Kiley of Malloves Jewelers

In 1988, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Jeff Bagwell played a handful of games for Malloves before turning pro. That same year Bill Denehy, who was famously traded from the New York Mets to the Washington Senators for manager Gil Hodges in 1967, pitched for Malloves Jewelers at the age of 42.

1986 Malloves Jewelers, GHTBL Champions.

After 25 years, the Middletown-based franchise previously known as the Middletown Outlaws will be once again known as Malloves Jewelers. The team will be led by first-time manager and former ECSU baseball captain, Christian Budzik.  The roster will be composed of current and former collegiate players from in and around Middlesex County. The GHTBL Executive Committee is searching for a General Manager to help with the team’s administrative tasks. 

Jeff Bagwell (right) played for Malloves Jewelers in 1987.

About Malloves Jewelers
In 1928, Malloves originally had 5 stores in Middletown, Danbury, Norwich, New London and Fitchburg, MA. The Malloves’ family sold their business to their in-laws, the Levin’s in 1938. When owner Max Levin passed away in the year 1940, he left the store to his brother Joseph Levin, wife Beatrice Levin and their son, Jerome “Buzzy” Levin. Then just 13 years old, Buzzy had begun to work at the family business. 

During Buzzy’s senior year at Woodrow Wilson High School (Class of 1944), his Uncle Joe decided to take a break from the business. It was then that Buzzy decided to commit himself to the family business, even though he was a promising baseball player, who had a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Buzzy pursued business instead of baseball but would not let go of his love for the game.

Buzzy Levin (1926-2017)

Buzzy prided himself on building a business based on hard-work and hand-shakes. Buzzy ran Malloves Jewelers through times of great success as well as great struggle including a fire on December 20, 1972 which completely destroyed the store. Malloves desperately wanted to remain on Main Street so Buzzy moved to a temporary, smaller store for two years before permanently relocating to the current location at 404 Main Street Middletown, Connecticut in 1974.

Marc Levin joined the business side of things in 1983 after graduating from University of Tampa.  In 1992, Marc decided he could be very happy in the jewelry business and took over in 1992.  Marc is entering his 28th year as President of Malloves Jewelers. 

Staff members at Malloves Jewelers of Middletown, Connecticut.

Buzzy Levin passed away in 2017, but the family tradition and his charitable legacy lives on.  The jewelry store is one of the most successful in the region.  Most of the staff has worked at Malloves for over 15 years and the business is now 90 years old. The store’s longevity is a tribute to the fortitude of the Levin family. 

Most recently, the Middletown Town Council named a new 90-ft diamond baseball field at the Pat Kidney Sports Complex in honor of Jerome “Buzzy” Levin. The GHTBL will be hosting the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament & Awards Banquet on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at Blackledge Country Club in memory of Buzzy Levin.

Buzzy Levin Field at Pat Kidney Sports Complex in Middletown, Connecticut.

Click here to attend the 2nd Annual Buzzy Levin Golf Tournament & Awards Banquet.

New Management in the Twilight League

3 new managers assume roles in East Hartford, Meriden and Middletown.

Record-Journal Expos – Charlie Hesseltine, Manager
– Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 42nd round of the 2003 MLB June Amateur Draft as a left-handed pitcher.
– In 2006, he signed with the Atlantic City Surf of the Atlantic League.
– He pitched for 3 more Atlantic League teams including the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2008.
– Meriden, CT, resident and member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

East Hartford Jets – Taylor Kosakowski, Manager
– Right-handed relief pitcher at Central Connecticut State University (’06-’08) with 72 K’s and 35 walks over 96 innings.
– Veteran of GHTBL and player-manager of the Ulbrich Clippers in 2018.
– Public school psychologist in Hebron, CT.

Middletown Outlaws – Christian Budzik, Manager
– Shortstop at Eastern Connecticut State University (’14-’17) with a .354 OBP and 77 hits in 121 games.
– He was part of the Cromwell High School baseball team who won the 2012 CIAC Class S championship.
– Special education teacher in Cromwell, CT.

GHTBL Tops CTL 4-1 at Muzzy Field

GHTBL wins 3 out of 3 matchups versus Connecticut Twilight League.

The GHTBL All Stars shined bright on Monday night, defeating the Connecticut Twilight League All Stars 4-1 in 9 innings. Even though the game was tied 1-1 until the top of the ninth inning, the GHTBL boys of summer eventually claimed victory.

Chris Anselmo (Clippers) drove in the game winning run after Tyler Pina (People’s) was hit by a pitch and stole a base. Then Jeff Criscuolo (Clippers) hit a booming triple off the right field wall scoring Anselmo. Thad Zentek (People’s) had an RBI plating Criscuolo.

Dan Trubia (Vernon) had two hits, starting pitcher Brendan Smith (People’s), relievers James Davitt (Clippers), Travis Salois (Marlborough), and John Martin (Middletown) threw scoreless innings while Tyler Pogmore (Vernon) earned the save.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM THE GAME