LaMay, Lund heading for softball Hall of Fame
The shortstop and the left fielder. The velvet glove and the bat that produced head-shaking boom. Classy, smooth elegance and muscular mayhem.
Scott Lund and Kevin LaMay. Lund with the glove and LaMay with the bat. Nobody did it better than the two iconic area softball players from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s. They didn’t just play, the made you take notice.
And the Connecticut Amateur Softball Association did just that recently selecting the pair for induction into the Hall of Fame for fast pitch. Waterbury’s Lund played both fast pitch and modified and will go in as a fast pitch player. LaMay, Thomaston born and a Washington resident, will be inducted as a modified player.
For those who weren’t around or paying attention to the modified game which dominated most fields in Waterbury area during that mid-70s to mid-90s period, the basic difference between the game and fast pitch was with the pitching.
By the rule there was no windmill pitching and you weren’t supposed to bring your pitching arm above shoulder level nor turn your body. Note the supposed reference. Let’s just say the area had an impressive surplus of slingers and sidewinders throwing high octane gas that was deadly.
The induction of the modified players has come through the efforts of Bob Wilcox, a fine player in his own right for Domar’s Warriors. Wilcox noted no modified players had been inducted and felt it was time. He contacted Ron Cox of the ASA Hall of Fame committee who was convinced it was time for the modified players to get their due.
As far as Lund and LaMay go, well, they were no-brainers.
“Scott was a great team leader and competed so well,” said Wilcox. “His influence on the teams he played for was immeasurable. He was wise beyond his years from a softball perspective. Kevin (LaMay) was the most dominant modified softball hitter I ever saw in the state of Connecticut and on a nation-wide basis. He was the leader of a really good team.’
Lund coached the Wolcott High baseball team for 10 years and Mattatuck for six years, his name is hardly unknown in area sports circles. But to see him play was a treat.
Lund played 14 years with Celeste Restaurant - Waterbury, Raybestos Cardinals - Stratford and Reed Construction – Andover, Ma. in fast pitch circles and a number of teams in the modified loop. He played in three national tournaments and three regional tournaments.
He could always hit, take it from somebody that was on the other bench a number of times and watched him move runners over with graceful precision or get that hit to right field. His career average was .386.
But it wasn’t the bat that left you smiling in admiration. It was that glove. Few packed leather like Scotty Lund. He bobbled little and turned the double play with teammates like Jimmy Gorman with flowing precision. Even the dive-produced dirt seemed a smooth addition to the uniform.
It all didn’t come without a little help and persistence.
“When I went to school at Crosby I had a coach Felix Longo who took a shine to me,” said the 63-year old retired New Haven school teacher. “One summer he took me out to the field every day and hit ground ball after ground ball. It became automatic after a while.
And it all produced an attitude.
“I prided myself on defense, nothing was going to get by me,” he said. “Offense was always a challenge particularly in fast pitch because the pitchers were so dominant. But I never wanted to see anybody hit a ball by me.’
Scooter Zappone has coached about every team and every sport in the area and was a prominent figure in the modified softball scene. He saw nobody like Scott Lund.
“He is definitely the best I ever saw,” said Zappone. “He knew the game so well. There was no situation that would overwhelm him. He didn’t mind being up with the game on the line and with the glove kind of said, `go ahead hit me the ball.’ “
LaMay was Lund in reverse. Lund could hit but it was his glove the ruled the day. Well, LaMay could field with a solid glove and excellent arm. But, it was his bat that took your breath away.
In a 20-year career with Skider’s Gym and national power The Tighe Club out of Wilmington, Mass, the numbers and titles are a testament to brilliance.
LaMay’s career average was about .420 with more than 500 home runs. He was a second team Major Modified All-American in 1984, the 1986 Major Modified Bud Light Mt. Hope, N.J. Tournament MVP and the 1989 Budweiser Worth Keene, N.H. Memorial Dayt MVP.
He played in 12 Major Modified National Championships around the country and 12 consecutive Ct. ASA state tournaments. LaMay’s Skider’s Gym teams won consecutive state titles in 1982, `83 and ’84, winning 18 consecutive games at one point. They finished fifth in the country in 1984. There were more than 40 assorted tournament titles.
First you saw LaMay, an imposing 6-foot-1, 220 lb., red-headed hitting machine.
“I used to tell Ace (Daveluy’s pitcher Chris Dostaler) to move over because LaMay’s arms were so big I couldn’t see him,” Daveluy’s catcher Keith Borkowski told me once several years ago.”
And in this case looks weren’t deceiving. He took you to the far reaches most people had to drive to. Blasts that still echo today. I played with LaMay and time doesn’t erase the memory of the satellites he hit. Listen to Zappone who coached LaMay for Skiders.
“Kevin is Kevin, talk about somebody who could dominate,’ said Zappone. “I don’t know why people wanted to pitch to him. He is the most dominating hitter I’ve ever seen. Nobody surpasses him, there is not comparison. Nobody hit the ball harder.
“Down at City Mills in Waterbury there was a wire way, way out in left field as you came in by the road. I remember Kevin Cleary chasing one of his balls and getting wrapped up in the wire. At a tournament in Bayshore, Long Island there was a big water tower out in center field and Kevin hit a ball off of it and a guy told me he had never in seen a ball hit off the tower in 30 years.”
There were others. LaMay also hit a ball off the roof of the outhouse in no-man’s land at City Mills. And Jay Tighe, owner of The Tighe told me that Kevin hit a shot estimated at close to 350 feet in the Mount Hope Tournament.
Was there a philosophy to that led to pitcher torture? Yep.
“Actually there was,” said LaMay. “Don’t think, just hit. Kind of like Manny Ramierez. If I struck out or got a hit I just thought about next time. If I got a hit, great, if not just go up the next time. I didn’t think about it. “
When LaMay’s name came up for nomination, there was no debate. “I told to just send Kevin’s stats in, it wasn’t even a question,” said Wilcox.
For LaMay it all comes as a surprise to a degree.
“I’m obviously excited to be included with so many great players in game I played for fun,” said the still-imposing 58-year old. “I never sought it, but it is exciting.’
The honor has also struck another chord with LaMay.
“What is really exciting is that my kids never saw me play and are always telling me I stink and things,” laughed LaMay. “This kind of validates it all.”
LaMay has a brood of three including recently graduated Shepaug Valley baseball All-Stater and basketball start Ryan. And just a note to them. Your dad not only was a Hall of Fame softball player, he is one of the finest athletes Thomaston has ever produced.
He led the Golden Bears to the 1975 Berkshire League basketball title and is long considered one of the Clocktown’s best.
Scott Lund packed the leather, Kevin LaMay packed the most lethal of bats. Both are now packing for the Hall of Fame. Nobody did it better.