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2013 Tri-State Hall of Fame Inductess. Part 2. Chris Clark, D.J. Reese, Jay Rocca and Ed Gadomski.

POSTED August 18, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Jay Rocca

Jay attended and played at Wolcott High School and Southern Connecticut State University graduating in 1988 and 1993 respectively.  His amateur playing days started with a team made up of high school friends playing for Modern Motors of the Waterbury Tri-Met League from 1990-2000.  He played in the Tri-State League for the Bethlehem Plowboys from 1994-2007.  During that time "The Plowboys" won five League Championships.  He received the league's Most Valuable Player award in 1996 and 1998. Jay was a member of the 2012 Washington Senators championship team in the over-40 league and this season joined his fellow Plowboy teammates playing for the Wolcott entry in the league. He is most grateful to have played a game that has been the origin of lifelong friendships. 

Chris Clark

Chris was a Lewis S. Mills graduate and Harwinton native. He played little league in Harwinton and with the Babe Ruth League in Torrington. From there he played American Legion ball in Canton.  Chris was selected to the All Berkshire league team as a catcher in 1993 after batting .437 and leading the BL in home runs with six and led his team with 37 hits. He made the Zone 1 American Legion All Star team that year as well.  Chris began playing with player/coach Scott Arigoni and the Rebels in the summer of 93’ where he was a member of the Torrington Rebels Tri-State league championship teams in 93, 94, and 95 and earned Tri state league MVP honors in 1995.  After the 1996 season, he stayed in Pennsylvania with his future wife Nicole for a year.  He returned to play in 1998 and became the Rebels team manager in 1999.  As manager, Chris led the Rebels to Tri state championships in ’04, 06, 07. 

To his teammates and friends, Chris is known as “Clarky” and “Skip.” Many ballplayers play summer ball to stay in shape and prepare for the next collegiate season.  For Clarky, his college season was a time to get ready for summer and the games with the Rebels.  The best part was returning to Torrington and Feussenich Park to play with his friends.  Chris considers himself to be very lucky to have played with two generations of Rebels.  One team formed by Scott Arigoni and led by Bill Quartiero, Rich Thomson, Rich Scott, Dave Bouchino and Glen Burger.  The second formed by Clarky led by Jay Wetherell, Rich Thomson, Brian Mongeau, Dan Livingston Darrin Gould and John Noack.  The competitiveness of the players and northwest corner setting was a thrill for Clarky.  The umpires and players of each team made every game competitive and memorable.  While playing and managing the Rebels, Chris enjoyed coaching the Litchfield High School team for 8 years with head coach Kyle Weaver. The best part of that experience is that Kyle and Chris were able to foster ‘a love for baseball’ in many players whom have returned from school and continue playing in the Tri-State league. 

These days Clarky finds himself coaching little league teams in Canton for his sons Nathan and Ian.  Clarky has a list of people who have made baseball a big part of his life.  His little league coach Frank Arigoni and his son Scott enabled Clarky to grow as a catcher from the time he was 9 years old.  His parents James and Evelyn were more than supportive even after Clarky almost seriously injured his father Jim who was throwing BP.  There aren’t many dads that were willingly throw BP at the age of 63.  Upon his return home, Chris’ wife Nicole was more than supportive of the Rebel Pasta suppers at the Sunnyside Grille. All the late nights home and rebel shenanigans that followed for 10+ years.  But the best part of 15+ seasons with the Rebels were the teammates. 

The Rebel grill and sharing experiences on and off the field were truly the best.

DJ Reese

At a young age D.J.was introduced to the game of baseball by his father which became a family affair.  DJ and his brother Brian would run around the outfield while their father coached and their mother watched in the stands.  DJ played youth baseball with his father as coach through Little League where they won a Winsted Little League Championship.  Known as a speedy center fielder who could run, hit, and steel bases, he would later be a 4 year starter at The Gilbert School.  As a senior, he was team captain and earned All-State and All Berkshire League honors, leading the Gilbert Team to a 1993 State Championship.

DJ played Connie Mack and American Legion Baseball as well, winning the Northwest Connie Mack title in 1992, coached by his father Donald Reese and also played for the American Legion Zone 1 North Division Championship team in 1993.

He started as a freshman for Southern New Hampshire College.  In his sophomore year his collegiate career came to an abrupt end with an injury which would move him into a coaching role. Working with Bob McMahon as an Assistant coach at the Gilbert School in 1997, DJ eventually took over the Gilbert baseball program in 1999.  Gilbert went on to win its only Berkshire League title with a 19-1 record.  DJ also coached Winsted- American Legion, establishing a .500  record for  2 years during the 1997 and 98 seasons and then coached the Gilbert program, from 1999-2007, missing the state tournament only one time and made the Quarterfinals in his final year, 2007. 

During those years he also played Tri-State baseball.  He first began in Winsted in 1992 and stayed there through 1994, before going on to play for the Bethlehem Plowboys in 1996, helping the Plowboys to their first title in 1998. 

DJ then returned as a player/coach for the Winsted Whalers in 1999.   Winsted would go on to reach the Tri State finals from 2000-2002 and he coached the Winsted Whalers to the 2008 Tri State Championship.  Today, in addition to coaching in the Tri-State league, he is also an assistant coach with his cousin Matt Carl in the Barkhamsted Youth Little League Program.

DJ has been a big part of the development of the Tri state League during his tenure which is becoming one of the premier wooden bat leagues in the area.  A great teacher of the game, he has promoted and encouraged the addition of teams to the league, the adding of college and former professional players, helping create a competitive and instructional environment for many to enjoy.

Ed Gadomski

Ed was a member of the Kaynor tech baseball team from 1982-1985 that won the Tech league championship all 4 years in high school where he played as a pitcher/centerfielder. Cheshire’s Mickey Mantle team drafted Ed as a 16-year-old, where he played with future hockey star Brian Leetch. He won two games on the mound in the tournament helping Cheshire to a state championship and the team’s only victory in the Mickey Mantle regional tournament — a 5-2 win over Brooklyn, N.Y. Ed played his college baseball for Mattatuck Community College where they won a state championship his freshmen season while leading the team in hitting with a .407 batting average.

Later, in 1984-85, he played for Oakville’s American Legion team with future major leaguers Rico Brogna and Darren Bragg. He also played in the now defunct Waterbury Twi-met league for 7 years and the Waterbury Laurels of the Nutmeg league that won all kinds of championships for 10 seasons before overlapping to join the Thomaston Spoilers of the Tri-State League. He enjoyed his best season in 2003 batting .456 as a member of the Spoilers team that won a league championship and earned the league’s MVP award that season. Ed’s most cherished baseball memories are the one-on-one wiffleball games that he and his brother Rob played endlessly in the driveway of their home and credits Rob with being his toughest opponent and for helping to mold him into the ballplayer that he became.

In October of 2003, Ed took over as commissioner of the Tri-State league from Bobby McMahon and has watched the league balloon from 6 teams in 2003 to 19 teams in 2013. He credits all the Tri-State league coaches for their help in the growth of the league and sees his commissionership as his chance to give back to the game that he loves. He has also been the Stan Musial state tourney director for the past 8 seasons and was awarded the John Wentworth Good sport Award by the CT Baseball Sportswriters Alliance in 2012 for his contribution to amateur baseball. In 2013, he was hired as the General Manger of the Torrington Titans FCBL baseball team but also continued to serve as the Tri-State league commissioner. On his days off, you can still find Ed around the ballpark as a member of the Torrington Board of Umpires or playing in the over-38 league for his hometown Thomaston Spartans. He has worked at Waterbury Hospital for the past 25 years in the “IT” department. Ed and his wife Lori celebrated their 25 year wedding anniversary this past November and he would like to thank her for all her continued support in his baseball endeavors. Ed and Lori have 3 daughters Jessica, Heather, and Jennifer and he is really looking forward to their first daughter Jessica’s wedding coming up this Labor Day weekend.

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