The Game Never Gets Old For Arigoni
Torrington legend and former Major League prospect, Scott Arigoni, stands with two of his boys before his Tri-State All-Stars played an exhibition game against the Torrington Titans on the Fourth of July. Rick Wilson has the story.
The Game Never Gets Old For Arigoni
TORRINGTON – It seems like every time there is a big game they give a shout out to the big guy. Maybe because the big guy has always been big time.
The Cubans came to Fuessenich Park and Scott Arigoni was there. Teams from Taiwan and China came and Arigoni was there. Team USA and the Canadian National team did their thing in front of buzzing crowds at field behind the armory and there was Scott again.
“I’ve pitched against half the United Nations,” joked Arigoni with a proud smile.
And there he was again Monday night at the Tri-State League All-Stars vs. the Torrington Titans 4th of July extravaganza at Fuessenich that included former New York Yankee World Series hero Jim Boutin, the modern day advertisement for a tonsillectomy, William Hung, one cool sky diver named Marc Krasinski who floated in from 5,500 feet, the foot-stomping group `All-In’, a home run derby and a lot of very good baseball players.
Arigoni was no small part of it all. He never is. The 6-foot-5, 240 lb. or so left hander is a presence wherever he goes and with a smile the size of one of those giant bass he loves to catch you could tell Fuessenich Park was the place he wanted to be on this night.
Part of it is pitching and part of it all is the game itself. The past would be enough to demand Arigoni’s presence on a night like this. Wolcott Tech star in high school, from there to Cape Cod Community College where he still raves about the fishing (hey in his afterlife he wants to be the Bass Masters champion) and then Atlantic Coast League where he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.
He likes to call himself a bonus baby, signing for a whopping $1,000 bonus and $525 a month. He pitched and he won and played with the likes of Don Mattingly, Juan Samuel and a cast of future of major leaguers.
Then he was done. One rainy evening with the game washed out he decided to go for a run and misstepped jumping on to a curb. One blown knee later the dream was gone. He doesn’t dwell on it. He just moved on.
He came back home and hit the recreation circle. Teams and titles in Tri-State. Twi-Met appearances in Waterbury. He kept pitching. Today at the age of 52 he throws in the area over-40 baseball league and was recently tendered an offer by Winsted to come back and torture some Tri-State hitters.
Arigoni isn’t just window dressing. He can still bring it. Recently he was clocked in the mid-80s. Boutin, at 72, is somewhat of a marvel at 72, in good shape and floating that knuckleball up there. But, he has nothing on Arigoni.
A well-respected basketball official in the winter, Scott runs 15-20 miles a week. He works on a 700 acre farm in Goshen and takes his physical conditioning seriously. He eats healthy and doesn’t smoke or drink. He isn’t hanging on, he’s keepin’ on. He gets calls for these games because he can still bring it.
Bethlehem Plowboy Eric O’Toole will tell you and O’Toole can play.
“He struck me out last year and he was bringing it pretty good,” O’Toole remembered.
But if Arigoni still has game, the game still has Arigoni. And always will. There is the competitive part. He loves playing again guys half his age. But, it goes deeper. The game grabbed him long ago and won’t let ago.
There is a `Field of Dreams’ aura that envelops Arigoni when he talks about the game that most people only watch and read about while applying their hot heat rub and ice packs at the age of 52.
“Coming to the ballpark enlightens my spirit,” he said.
Arigoni’s life is full one. There is the baseball and the fish and days outdoor on the farm. There are 11 kids. That’s right – 11. Three of his own, five step children, three adopted children and five grandchildren. He has already put five of them through college and still has a dollar in his pocket.
The triumphs are many, the tragedy potent. One son is gone, the victim of a tragic killing at a party. He has touched the top of the mountain and been to the bottom of the pit. He has felt life’s diversity.
He revels in the good. On this night, he’s pumped about pitching. But, it is only part of the magic of the night. Two of his youngest are in the park with him and he’s in the clouds with the sky diver, the difference being that Krasinski eventually hit the ground.
They pose together for the camera, dad making sure the kids are in the picture. They are all smiling. The trio mingle, team comaradarie and family mixing as one. It is one of those nights you hold on to and slip into the memory file that can’t be deleted.
Scott goes out and pitches a pretty good sixth inning. It is a night when all is right.
Scott will tell you any night at the park is a good night. Some day they will take him out of the game, but nobody will ever take the game out of him. No matter what happens, the ballpark will always beckon.
It is a feel-good elixir that has never lost its potency for the big left hander. Now, if they could just find a little place nearby to put a pond in and stock it with some trout or something. Then he’d really be in heaven.
But if not, the ballpark’s lasting magic still never wavers.