2012 Year in Review...June.#1..Rick Wilson, seven others inducted into the Tri-State Baseball Hall of Fame....
The 2012 Tri-State Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. (L-R) Geoff Marchant, Fred Bunnell, Don Rhynhart, Jim Shove, Mark Murphy, Rick Wilson, Rich Blazek, Bob Clinch.
LITCHFIELD: Between the eight of them, they represented over 40 years of players who took the field, an umpire who called the games and a guy who told hundreds of stories of what went on in the Tri-State Baseball League.
On a stupendously brilliant Sunday afternoon in Litchfield, eight new members where inducted into the Tri-State Hall of Fame.
Geoff Marchant, Fred Bunnell, Don Rhynhart, Jim Shove, Mark Murphy, Rick Wilson, Rich Blazek and Bob Clinch were honored for their contributions on and off the field in a ceremony as good as any you will find in the area.
League commissioner Ed Gadomski has turned this league around over the last six plus years, making it a model for summer baseball programs in the area.
“We have worked hard to make this league what it is today.” Gadomski said. “Everyone of these teams holds the leagues reputation in high regard. It is no longer a beer league.”
With the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers in the air, it looked and felt like what Abner Doubleday had in mind when baseball was born.
Generations of players and their families flooded into the area as the afternoon wore on, a prelude to the buzz that will start next weekend with the 36th Annual Litchfield Hills Road Race.
History is never lost during these events, the league brought back two teams to play in an Old Timers Game which was to be followed by a regular season match up between Amenia and Litchfield.
Gadomski brought in a special guest, Gilbert Black, a member of the 1956 Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues.
Black brought with him a stockpile of memorabilia, including pitchers and uniforms he wore back in his day.
As a child, he grew up near the Polo Grounds and made getting into the grand old stadium a regular occurrence.
His first game featured a couple of well know players named Williams and DiMaggio and he was in the building when the New York Giants and Bobby Thompson clinched the National League title over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The names of players Black played with or against was impressive.
Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Choo Choo Coleman, Roberto Clemente, Roy Campanella, Robin Roberts and Jackie Robinson were part of a much larger list.
The names of the players inducted have been regular family names in the local sports scene forever. Chris Blazek was in uniform for the Cowboys as his father was inducted.
Murphy and Bunnell are household names in local sports.
Rhynhart, Clinch and Marchant all played significant roles on their respective teams throughout the years.
Each helped lay a brick in a league that went from a low of six not that long ago to a healthy number of 17.
Shove was honored for his time calling the game as an umpire for numerous seasons and was the kind of umpire teams would request, he was that good and that fair.
Wilson, who simply loves telling stories about the people who play the games, is the third sports writer to be honored by the league.
He joins Litchfield’s own John McKenna and Torrington legend Peter Wallace, great company indeed.
“Without those guys giving us the coverage, we don’t continue to grow.” Gadomski said. “Their dedication and passion for telling the stories of the games and about the people who play them has meant so much to us over the years.”
Wilson, whose first pitch had enough power on it to land it somewhere near the Green in Litchfield, was both honored and humbled by the induction.
“It’s always flattering to be recognized by your peers for something you love to do.” Wilson said. “When Eddie called me back in February I was shocked. It is a proud day that is also very humbling.”