Hartford Courant from Hartford, Connecticut on May 24, 1981 · 90
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Hartford Courant from Hartford, Connecticut · 90

Hartford, Connecticut
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 24, 1981
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D10 THE HARTFORD COURANT; Sunday, May 24, 1981 t Looks Like Reds Will Have Christmas Before Long By OWEN CANFIELD Courant Staff Writer Even though things are tough at the moment, the word is that Steve Christmas can't miss. - Nothing's going right these days for the Eastern League Waterbury Reds who, after winning eight in a row, had lost five straight going into yesterday's game at Holyoke, but their second-year catcher from Orlando, Fla. says, "there's a long way to go." Around the ;1 Eastern League With Johnny Bench winding down, this is not a bad time to be a catcher in the Cincinnati organization. Christmas knows that. He also knows there's a catcher in AAA Indianapolis named Dave VanGorder who is prized by the Cincinnati brass. . 1 v X That's OK. Competition never backed Christmas down, and though he's been a catcher only a few years, he's confident. Through high school and one year of college (Oklahoma Southwestern), he had been a third baseman, so artful with bat and glove that he was voted High School Player Town Raising Cash To Send Pitcher Abroad With Stars By GENE SEYMOUR Courant Staff Writer EAST HARTFORD Umpire Hal Devaux thought it was a hell of a fastball, even after it rose, bounced off the bat and struck the rim of his face mask. "I thought my jaw was broken for a minute," Devaux recalled, "but I was OK." Though Devaux can't remember when that game took place, he does remember that the next time he saw East Hartford High School pitcher Kevin Hickey, the first thing the young hurler said to him was, "Hope I didn't hurt your jaw, Mr. Devaux." Such courtesies probably helped the Hartford area chapter of the Connecticut Association of Approved Baseball Umpires decide to donate $100 to help the 18-year-old join 15 high school players from throughout the country to play baseball throughout Scandinavia next month. Largely through the efforts of high school baseball coach Al Lussier, a townwide drive is being held to raise the $1,200 Hickey needs to be able to play against teams from Sweden, Denmark and Finland this summer with the 1981 U.S.A. High School All-Star Baseball Team. Without the fund drive, Lussier said, Hickey couldn't afford to go. On Tuesday, a fund-raising cocktail party will be held from 7 to 10:30 p.m. in Hickey's honor at the Veterans Memorial Clubhouse here at a cost of $10 per ticket. Lussier wasn't able to say last week how much money was in a bank account established for Hickey's journey, but he hopes to have the necessary amount when the, night is over. The $100 from the umpires, with whom Lussier has argued on occasion, helps. "When a player' of this caliber comes along, we think that, after all, KEVIN HICKEY ' V ' ' v . Winter Waiting Over t By KAREN PATERNO Courant Staff Writer For some it's a sign of Spring. For others it's THE sign. Fanatics admit that during the off-months they wait anxiously for the softball season to get underway. Mike Corrado, former player-coach with Cypress Arms of the West Hartford Fast-Pitch League, says he knows players who start talking soft-ball when there's a sunny day in January. Literally thousands, both men and women, around the state are involved in the sport Tcny Rinaldi, president of the 11 of the Year in all of Florida as a senior. Hershell Freeman, a Cincinnati Eitcher of the 1950s, coached him in. igh school and exerted a heavy influence. "My folks were divorced when I was 11," Christmas said. "It was a very hard time in my life. My dad had always encouraged me in sports, and suddenly he wasn't there any more. Freeman had a lot of affect on me. He became like a father. It was him who got me the tryout in Tampa." The Twins drafted him as a third baseman out of college. He didn't sign, but later attended a Reds' tryout camp in Tampa, signed a contract and was converted to catching. One of the reasons he's so good at it is that he likes the position so much. "Tools of ignorance?," he snorted. "Like heck. Catching is the position where you're involved. Nothing happens until you put down a finger, and that starts everything. "I've been told that defensively, I could be catching in the big leagues right now," he continued. "So it's kind of a hard thing, right now. But I don't mind being back in Waterbury 'cause I'm playing every day. I could be sitting home right now, doing nothing, like a lot of guys. All I can do is keep we get paid by the schools and colleges we work at; here's a chance to give something back," said Devaux, secretary-treasurer of the umpire group. "After all, we're not the ogres people think we are." "I know guys who'll razz an umpire even after a game's over and say, 'Hey, ump, that was a lousy call you made,'" Hickey said, shaking his head."I just figure the guy's got a job to do, you know? I don't always agree with them, but that's the way it is." "A nice kid," is what umpires, coaches and other grownups say when they describe Hickey. But beneath the amiability and good manners reside fierce competitive tendencies that coalesce to make Hickey what Lussier calls,"a real snorter." "When he's huffing and puffing on the mound, we know we've got it made," Lussier said. "He's been an inspiration to us all year long." This year, Hickey's pitching record was 7-1. He led the team in runs batted in and hit .350. His freshman year pitching record was 8-0 and, he recalls, his earned-run average was .000. He can't' remember what he hit that year, which doesn't come as a surprise since he prefers pitching to hitting. "That's when you're really in control of a game," he said. . He is proud of his record and prouder still that his last season at East Hartford High will include a state tournament, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Yet it was the final game of the previous season, when the school had a mediocre record, that he remembers most vividly. East Hartford High was playing its crosstown rival, Penney High School, which needed the win to go to a tournament of its own. "You always want to beat Penney, no matter what you do for the rest of the year," Hickey said. The team was down 3-0 in the fifth inning when Hickey was called to the mound. He struck out nine straight batters, huffing and puffing all the way. "I was breathing heavy. My legs were shaking. I. just wanted this game so bad," he recalls. He held off enough hitters to allow a teammate to hit a grand-slam home run and win the game, 4-3. It was about 6 p.m. when it ended, he recalls. It took him until 9 p.m. to calm down. If he gets enough money to travel with the high school all-stars, Hickey will leave for Europe June 17 and return July 6. After that, he plans to play with two summer leagues before leaving irt September for the University of Connecticut on a four-year baseball scholarship. team Hartford 'Modified League, says if you take a ride through Hartford between 5 and 6 p.m. on a weekday you'll find all of the 44, or so, softball diamonds occupied by league games. Area Softball "It (playing softball) lets out the frustration of everyday work," explains Rinaldi an accountant with the state Labor Department But why softball? Softball is an offshoot of baseball, says Al McCall, president of the Hartford Morning "Modified League ' 1 .4. ) - ;.: . I ? STEVE CHRISTMAS STEVE working at it." Christmas, like the whole Waterbury team, is slumping at the plate. His average is down to .253, but his defensive work is impressive. "I love him," said Bristol Red Sox manager Tonv Tor'chia. "He does it all." Right. Forget today's numbers. It's a long season and Christmas is coming. The Eastern League's top home run hitter as of Thursday was Luis Rois of Glens Falls with nine ... The White I i ' t- R F - ' . 'v -. V S1 mm- i , f T , . AH PHOTO Second baseman Steve Scafa of St. John's leaps over Maine's Brad Colton Saturday in the NCAA Division I Northeast Regional baseball tournament at Yale. Scafa fired to first to complete an inning-ending double-play. St. John's won, 10-5. -, - . . Ithaca Nudges Eastern Continued from Page Dl games at the Eastern Connecticut campus, averaging 11 runs and 14 hits per outing. Tom Reynolds lined a second-inning, solo homer to give Eastern the early lead in the title contest. But the Bombers quickly answered in the third when Fagan skied a wind-blown ball over the right centerfield fence for a two-run roundtripper. , "I didn't, hit that ball (his first homer) good at all," said Fagan, the burly designated hitter. "If the wind (gusting up to 25 MPH) wasn't blowing, that would have been an easy out." DeMatties deposited his second homer of the day a two-run shot and 13th of the season off Eastern starter Tom Roath to stake Ithaca to a 4-1 advantage in the fifth. Eastern freshman Jeff Brewer relieved Roath and immediately shut the Bombers down. The Warriors seized the momentum and rallied to deadlock the game. They pushed across single runs in the sixth and seventh and took the lead with two more in the eighth. Reynolds smacked another solo homer to right in the two-run frame and first 'N baseman Archie Drobiak knocked in at Last; Softball Diamonds Busy Again and a former Lyman Hall High School ballplayer. "It's just another form ot baseball. It's a logical step for former baseball players." And for many, baseball is still the American game. Rinaldi, 25, agrees with McCaU's theory. Eighty percent of his Summit Hill teammates are from his Bulke-ley High baseball team (classes of 1972 and 73). "A lot of them (softball players) are replacing a major league drive. We're taught as kids to play sports. After high school and college softball sort of replaces that" says Corrado. But why softball, why not rugby cr GELFARB JAY FREDLUND Sox, in second place in the North Division, are hot. Says GM Ben Bernard, "everybody's coming around at once with the bat, especially Randy Johnson, Ron Kittle and Greg Walker" . . . Johnson hit five homers in two weeks and then ran into the outfield fence and separated his shoulder. He's lost to the Sox for two weeks . . .Ed Einhorn, one of the Chicago White Sox owners, came to Glans Falls last week and had good things to say after watching third baseman Ron Perry. Perry is hitting Minn i itiiii'iniaiKaMfegteiatai Eastern's final run with a single to left. Brewer," meanwhile, was breezing along with the same overpowering pitches he possessed Friday when he blanked Ithaca for five innings in Eastern's 12-8 triumph. In the bottom of the eighth, Brewer stuck out his bare pitching hand and knocked down a line drive hit by Rick Watts. Brewer gathered himself and threw to first to record the final out of the inning. His thumb, however, turned an ugly redish color and swelled. He tried to pitch the ninth, but walked leadoff man Tom Pallister on four straight pitches. "He (Brewer) couldn't turn the ball over. He had no feeling in it," said Smyth. Eastern coach Bill Holowaty had to remove the gutsy Brewer to have his injured hand x-rayed. Morrell entered and retired the ever-dangerous De-Matties on a pop foul. The Warriors were only two outs away two outs away from Marietta And then up to the plate strode Fagan, possessing one more aerial bomb from the potent Bombers' bats. golf , for instance? "All you need are a glove and some spikes to play softball," says Corrado. "It's an easy game to pick up. You don't have to have a lot of endurance," says Dick Bradley a member of the Hartford Morning Modified League's Regional Market team. Some softball players admit rugby can get a little too rough, and the rules a little too complicated, for their tastes. McCall says he's tried both tennis and golf, finding them "initially frustrating. . .1 didn't play all that well. So I went back to what was familiar:!' the ball sharply with an average of around .270, but Bernard said he's "hitting everything right at somebody." It happens ... A promotional night drew 6,000 fans to East Field Tuesday night . . . Little 'ol Glens Falls is jumping and howling with it's two pro sports teams . . A big parade Thrus-day followed the Adirondack Red Wings' Calder Cup clincher victory over Maine on Wednesday. That night, everybody went to the Millers-White Sox game . . . Well, not everybody, but . . . The Sox are near the top in league attendance figures. Club leaders in home runs: Gary Re-dus, Waterbury, 7; Doug Frobel, Jose Rodriguez and John Holland, Buffalo, 6 each; Rick Adams, Holyoke, 5; Rodney Hobbs and Dave Vallee, Lynn, 5 each; Steve Gelfarb and Bruce Four-nier, West Haven, 5 each; AI Sanchez, Reading, 4; and Ken Young, Bristol, 3. In a game in Buffalo last week, the Holyoke Millers trailed the Bisons 6-0 in the top of the ninth with two on, two out. Without a homer, the Millers scored seven times and won the game 7-6 .. . In an 11-10 victory in Buffalo, Holyoke set a club record for most homers in one game with five. They ohn's Michigan, Maine Continued From Page Dl Freshman Butch Andrews also made the most of a rare start. Before the tourney, he had appeared in only 14 games, five as a pitcher and nine as an outfielder. Then came Saturday. Andrews drove in five runs on four hits in the opener and added three hits in the nightcap, including his first homer and a two-run double. "We just stayed calm," he said after Maine had dumped the Redmen into the loser's bracket on Friday with a 10-5 win. "We just played great ball. We had nothing to lose." Andrews will be the starting pitcher today. "I love this. We're gonna win it." ' Ron Kiene had pitched only 21 innings during the regular season. Then came Saturday. The senior righty scattered 10 hits and pitched a complete game in the nightcap to boost his record to 3-0. He got out of a bases loaded jam with an inning-ending double play in the eighth. The 36 runs in the opener tied the NCAA record for a playoff game. The 42 hits established a new mark. Central Michigan, which bowed out with a 37-13 record, used six pitchers which tied another record. And St. John's catcher Don Giordano tied two records by collecting five hits and scoring five times in the game. .Giordano, the designated hitter in the nightcap, stroked two hits and scored a run. He finished the day with seven hits and six runs. St. John's 23 runs and 25 hits in one game are the second most in both categories in the 35-year history of the NCAA. Twilight Baseball League Opens Season Wednesday By JOHN KERSHAW Courant Correspondent The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League opens its 53rd season Wednesday at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield with defending champion Moriarty Brothers playing last year's runnerup, the Bristol Cassins, at 6 p.m. First night ceremonies begin at 5:45 p.m. According to league president Rev. Thomas Campion, there will be 14 teams divided into two seven-team divisions the highest number of teams in league history. Team entries include the Vernon Orioles, Moriarty Brothers of Manchester, Scott's Sports of Windsor, Society for Savings, Bristol Cassins, Mal-love Jewelers of Middletown, and Langan-Rt. 44 Volkswagen. Also, Bor-diere Travel of New Britain, Capitols, Imagineers, Herb's Sport Shop, Glastonbury Arrows, East Hartford, the former Hartford Jai-Alai team, and the newest entry, Katz Sports of Meri- Softball. "People are really into it," says Rinaldi. When he first started playing five years ago jeans and t-shirts was the standard suit of dress for everyone in his league. "Now when you go into the park, everyone has a uniform on." - Bradley knows of players that are so "into it" that they play on four different teams for four different leagues. "Connecticut's a pretty good state about softball," he adds. , Some players say they have an addiction for the sport. "Hitting the ball, I think is what most people like about softball,"ays were hit by Mike Brown, Darrell Miller, Mark Nocciolo, Chris Clark and Les Pearsey . . . One night earlier, the Millers lost to Glens Falls, 11-10. Some 330 feet from home plate at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo there is an aging, covered grandstand with a roof 100 feet high. Last week Frobel became the third player in memory to hit a home run up on the roof. "An unbelievable shot," said Jack Tracz, assistant GM of the Bisons . . . Rick Lancelotti of the 1979 Bisons and Don Whiting of the '79 Millers have also done it. Outfielder Dennis Sherow and pitcher Rich Holloway were placed on West Haven's disabled list last week when outfielder Don Morris and pitcher Barry Cort were reactivated by the A's. Jay Fredlund, huge Bristol hurler from Thomaston, tested his bad shoulder Thursday night with two innings against Waterbury. He retired six straight batters, using only 21 pitches. Later, the shoulder gave him pain ... In Wednesday night's doubleheader, reliever Dave Schoppee collected two more saves. He got another Friday night and is now 0-1 with 10 saves, an era of about 0.50, in 23 innings. Rips Maine suffered its first loss in 21 games. The 31-12 Black Bears got homers from Kevin Buckley, his third of the the tourney, and Tom Vanides-tine. An error allowed three unearned runs to score in the fifth as the Black Bears fell behind, 5-1. In Maine's six post-season tourney games, Buckley has 18 hits in 28 at-bats. He has scored 11 runs and driven in 14. The losing pitcher was freshman Bill Swift, 3-1. Eastern Captures AIAW Softball Title GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Eastern Connecticut? State College, winning five straight playofff games, claimed its first Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Division III Softball World Series title Saturday morning by beating Greenville College of Illinois, 10-2. Kim Walton blasted a three-run homer in the third inning for the Warriors, who finished 24-11. Freshman Lisa Kirk was the winning pitcher. Eastern finished third in the Northeast Regional tournament to qualify for the Nationals. Sting Sinks Sounders, 3-1 Associated Press CHICAGO Arno Steffenhagen scored two goals, both in the second half, to lead the Chicago Sting to a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders 3-1 Saturday at Comiskey Park. den. East Hartford is in search of a sponsor and will play as the East Hartford Town team until one is found. Games will be played Sunday through Friday each week in a 175-game regular season schedule ending Aug. 4. All teams will play some games at St. Thomas Seminary in addition to nine other sites. Moriarty Brothers will play home games at Moriarty Field, East Hartford home games will be played at McAuliffe Park, Scott Sports at Windsor High School, Glastonbury Arrow at Glastonbury High School, Society for Savings at Trinity College, Vernon Orioles at Henry Park, Katz Sports at Ceppa Field in Meriden, Bordiere Travel at New Britain's Willowbrook Park, and Mallove Jewelers at Middletown's Palmer Field. Games at Ceppa Field and Willowbrook Park will start at 7 p.m. and at Palmer Field at 7:30 p.m. Sunday games at St. Thomas Seminary will be at 5 p.m. Corrado. "The feeling you get when you hit a home run, it's like a slam dunk in basketball." "I like it when you go out there and practice. You stand there for three hours chasing down balls like a dog chases a stick," laughs McCall giving a slightly different view point. "I don't think softball has ever been more popular as far as numbers," says Corrado. "But I don't think it's reached its peak yet I think it's going to get more popular." And then there's always the social end of it Rinaldi says he enjoys, "Having a few beersafter the game." i ,m rm mt m l 1 ii !" t -mj fc .

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