The Amazing Mrs. Gaffney and the homemade post-game feast.
TORRINGTON: When I first volunteered to cook part of the post-game meal for the Torrington Titans and the Canadian Junior National Team make no mistake about it. I was volunteering the magnificent Mrs. Gaffney to cook said meal for 60.
My wife is amazing. I’ll come home from a game or function where I get some kind of goofy idea that will help someone else but falls squarely on the shoulders of my partner in crime, Deborah Gaffney.
Granted, I understand how big her heart is and how she loves to do for others but I sometimes underestimate just what I signed her up for.
Here’s the job.
After every game in summer leagues near and far, the home team supplies a meal for both teams that can vary in size and content.
In Torrington, great places like Alfredo’s Deli, Joe’s Pizza or Little Caesar’s Pizza amongst others have been coming through for well over a decade at their own expense.
These are ballplayers who range from the ages of 18-21 and you can bet, pack an appetite, especially after three to four hours on the diamond.
A hot dog and soda just isn’t going to cut it.
Now, before I tell the story of the event that was Friday night at the Gaffney house, understand one thing.
This feels great to do and I would encourage anyone who has the motivation and the means in any of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League nine home towns to check with their team to see if you can sponsor a meal.
Doesn’t have to be extravagant, no Filet Mignon (although the players would not complain) needed. Pasta, chicken, salads and the like do just fine.
Remember, some of these kids are a long way from home and will truly appreciate a homemade meal, trust me.
We decided on pasta with sauce, meatballs and garlic bread as our meal for the players.
Make that homemade sauce, homemade meatballs and homemade garlic bread with mozzarella sprinkled on top for good measure.
Our good friend, Tony Turina from Tony’s Coffee Express in Thomaston was kind enough to send along two huge trays of cannoli’s and éclairs to top off a tremendous meal.
Oh yeah, we were scheduled to do this after taking off for New York to visit with my mom on Wednesday and Thursday while stopping by to see Conor Bierfeldt play for his Class A team, the Aberdeen Ironbirds in Wappingers Falls, New York.
That trip meant shopping for this meal didn’t begin until after Deb worked all day on Friday, bought her mom an air conditioner (which she installed) and got home about 5:30.
The teams ask for the meals to be at the park around the seventh inning or about 8:30 so they can be served on plates and ready for the players to grab after the game finished.
Three hours, 60 players, 12 boxes of pasta, eight loaves of Italian bread (more on that after), freshly rolled meatballs and a delivery in 180 minutes.
Why not? What could go wrong?
Well, first off, Stop and Shop was fresh out of fresh bread. Our friends from Carbone’s Market in Torrington had themselves a busy day as well and had just cleaned the shelves just before Deb got there.
It would be another 15-30 minutes before the next batch would be ready so I had a trip to make before I headed to the park to get some pictures and video to use with the story John Nestor would post later that night.
My small contribution to the early cause consisted of setting up the kitchen table as an assembly line, rolling about 20 meatballs, getting out the pots and pans and staying out of the way.
When the master is at work, stand clear.
I took off for the game and a supremely confident Mrs. Gaffney got down to business.
The thing with the best made plans of mice and men, like Steinbeck said, is that they can change in a split second.
Or, when the pitcher throwing for the Canadian Junior National Team is the son of a former major league ballplayer named Paul Quantrill.
Cal Quantrill, a senior in high school and a young man we should be seeing at the highest level at one point, was missing about every Titans bat he threw towards.
The game was flying by. We were thankful when we verified that it was going to be a nine inning game, not seven as it can be with some exhibition games.
But still, the clock seemed to be working against us at that point.
I had jumped on the WAPJ radio broadcast with my buddy Art Benedict for a couple of innings and made mention the feast Mrs. Gaffney was preparing at home.
Mrs. Gaffney was listening, as she often does and was becoming very aware of the time the food would need to be finished; earlier than thought.
Didn’t help that I bought some of the thickest pasta on the planet which slowed the prep time dramatically.
I took off from the park to get home and help finish the process about 8 o’clock and walked into a frenzied house with a ballgame on in the back-round and a very hot Mrs. Gaffney moving at about one hundred miles an hour.
An organized hurricane you might say.
Pasta was staged, awaiting sauce. The fresh garlic bread was flying out of the oven and needed to be cut and stacked in pans for transport.
The place smelled incredibly good, too bad there was no time to grab a meal!
We wrapped (literally) things up at about 8:45 and backed the car up to the front door, loaded the food and headed down the two miles to Fuessenich Park.
Eddie Gadomski (Titans GM) and Mallory Jenson (Assistant GM) were waiting for us and helped unload our feast and quickly set it up on tables where we would set up plates for the players to grab when they were done.
Within twenty minutes, the deal was done.
I even got to throw a plate of food to our good friend, Peter Wallace who enjoyed his meal while continuing to keep score of the game, won by the Titans 1-0.
So while it was a blistering hot day to cook anything, understanding how much the players and coaches were going to enjoy the work Mrs. Gaffney did in preparing the feast and the true appreciation we got from Gadomski, Jenson and Titans owner Alan Seraita made it all worth it.
A quick hose down of the kitchen (and us) when we got home and this project was put to bed.
True, next time we will try to give the cook more than three hours to prepare for 60, but we will do it again.
If you are thinking about doing it yourselves, trust us, the feeling you get from doing it is worth the sweat and time you will put into it every time.