From Orange County, New York to Torrington, CT. Franklin Jennings. A fellow New Yorker.
TORRINGTON: It’s strange how small the world can get.
Never ceases to amaze me how often I cross paths with someone who I have more in common with than I would ever have thought.
During a visit to the Harwinton Elementary School just after the season started this summer, I was heard one of the players say to the youngsters that he was from Orange County, New.
It’s not often you find a person from the area where you grew up, here in Litchfield County playing summer ball in the city you live so naturally I had to ask.
Turns out one Franklin Jennings, an outfielder for the Torrington Titans, grew up about 30-minutes from my old stomping grounds of Washingtonville, New York in Mongomery, New York.
Turns out he gets his cleats from my old soccer coach (I graduated in 1976 and thought coach Martelli was old then) at the only sporting goods store in the small hamlet, home of the Wizards.
It didn’t stop there.
When I mentioned I played sports in Washingtonville (home of the Brotherhood Winery, not a big deal when you are a kid who drinks Miller or Bud), Franklin started naming names.
“Did you know Reggie Dolson?” Jennings said.
Yeah, he was just the best athlete on our team, a player most in the league and on his own team couldn’t keep up with.
Turns out the Dolson family and the Jennings family are cousins.
Knew of our goalie, the one and only Brian Royster who is currently a Facebook friend and always good to touch base with.
Jennings graduated from Valley Central High School in 2012 and was a three sport athlete most of his career until injuries took a toll during his senior year.
“I tried out for varsity (baseball) as a sophomore,” Jennings, “Had the misfortune of being on the second best team in the state so I played JV. I got called up for the Sections (Section 9) and we went on to win the Section Championship and then the Regional Championship.”
“That was an awesome experience.” Jennings said.
“In my junior year, I started at short,” Jennings said, “I hit in the fours (.400) from the leadoff spot. We went to the section finals that year.”
Jennings played for Eric Bartle who has been at the helm for Valley the past 13-seasons and has seen his fair share of success, including the teams that the speedy short stop played on.
He would play three sports until his senior year when a torn ACL in basketball halted his soccer and baseball seasons but would pick up his game when he went to Central Connecticut.
This past spring, Jennings batted .265 with 16 stolen bases 26 runs scored for the Blue Devils.
So far this summer, after missing a week due to injury for the Titans, Jennings, who plays center field, is struggling at the plate, as most of his teammates are but feels they are close to breaking out.
“Too many good hitters are not hitting right now,” Jennings said, “It’s only a question of time before we get going.”
Joining Jennings on the field for Torrington are Central teammates Nick Garland and Dean Lockery. Brett Susi was shut down with shoulder soreness after a strong start to the summer, making it four Blue Devils in Torrington this summer.
His game is built on speed, his personality outgoing and positive.
He’s a kid from my neck of the woods, looking to live his dream of either playing baseball or going into the teaching profession with third and fourth grade his ideal range to teach.
The highs have been high and the lows pretty down but Franklin Jennings isn’t about to feel sorry for himself, he’s just going to work harder to get where he wants to go.
He’s from Orange County, New York, I get that.