Torrington Stories

Community Baseball: The Torrington Titans

It was the perfect night for baseball with an easterly wind blowing out to left field giving the promise of at least one home run during the Titans game at Fussenich Park. I arrived early to see the players practicing, the grounds crew perfecting the field and the young team from the Titans’ front office preparing for the Tuesday night game of baseball. I spotted General Manager Joey Abis right away and he set me up inside the fence near the entrance where I could collect food donations for the Torrington Soup Kitchen.

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Tonight was a meet-up/cash mob/food mob on the part of T-Town Torrington Chatter facebook group. Chatter members could buy a ticket to support the team (cash mob), donate food for the soup kitchen (food mob) and meet each other.  We are a group of 6100 (and counting) members of this social media group focused on Torrington and many posters often ask “what is there to do in Torrington” or there will be discussions about issues and someone will undoubtedly write “why don’t you do something instead of complaining about it on facebook?” So this was the opportunity.

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As time clicked toward 6pm with the game starting at 7pm I shared a few thoughts with Joey about the wonderful benefit Torrington receives in the community by enjoying a hometown baseball team when a Titans intern came up and donated an entire bag of food for the soup kitchen. These were good people. With the bag I had brought and the food donations from the Titans staff, the bin wouldn’t look barren no matter what happened.  As if on cue, singer/Songwriter Robert C Fullerton walked up to the gate soon followed by Skip and Demi Hoxie. They had arrived early as they would play a part in the festivities. RCF, a member of the Chatter group, was going to sing the national anthem and Skip Hoxie, the founder of the group, would be throwing out the first pitch. Their donations were placed in the bin and as we were talking, Tim Gaffney, editor in chief and founder of Litchfield County Sports (he’s also a member of Chatter) came up to us and said we could promote the food drive. He’d be over for the pre-game show shortly.

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Skip coming off the mound

People started streaming in soon enough and the attendance steadily rose. Steve Malo and Danny Greenlaw (both Chatter admins) arrived with their donations and the Viscariello and Beyus family, the Campbell family, Ken and Paula Frizzo, Debra Gluz, Catherine Squeo Martin, Delfina were there and many more. Soon the bin was full and we started placing the bags next to it. We handed out 38 food mob tickets. Comparatively speaking, prior cash mobs had been anywhere from 142-189 range when we only had 2000 or so members. Alfredo Viscariello, owner of Alfredo’s Deli, had offered a 20 dollar gift certificate to raffle off, a wonderful touch as Alfredo’s Deli had won the first Chatter cash mob back in October.

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RCF singing the national anthem

Tim Gaffney came back with two hand held cordless microphones and we started talking about the game, the food mob, the T-Town Chatter. Tim surprised me when he asked about my character “J. Timothy Quirk’ of the “60 Seconds with J. Timothy Quirk” videos. That character, not unlike a Steven Colbert character for the Colbert report, is somewhat of a buffoon who I play with a hint of “Ted Baxter” (from the Mary Tyler Moore show) so I spoke in character saying my videos were 60 seconds because that was the maximum amount of time most people could handle listening to J. Timothy Quirk (which I believe can be interpreted many different ways!)

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J. Timothy Quirk, and Skip and Demi Hoxie

Skip threw out the first pitch and got it over the plate.  Nicely done.  It was then that I realized how far the distance was from the pitcher’s mound to the plate, something I didn’t really think about when watching the professionals play. When a civilian, in this case Skip, takes a stab at it, the distance is really put in perspective and one can appreciate even more the professional athletic abilities of the players. RCF sang the National Anthem. When he was done, I overheard MANY people complimenting his version of the song; one attendee said it was the best she had heard at the park.

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Skip Hoxie, Justin Robarge, Mike Bonaiuto and Robert C Fullerton

Soon the game started and the Titans took the field. I kept my post at the food bin with Skip, Demi and RCF.  The game was exciting and thoroughly enjoyable. I witnessed something I had never seen before, an inside the park home-run bunt! A Titans player, Chris Scura from Limestone College, bunted and the North Shore pitcher grabbed the ball and threw it badly past the first base player into the right field corner and Scura ran faster than lightning. You could tell he would get to second base because of the throwing error but he was still running to third when the right fielder neared the ball. The third base coach waived him on and he rounded third making a bee line for the plate. The throw came in and Scura slid, avoiding the late tag. SAFE! The crowd erupted in excitement, hooting and hollering and cheering in wide approval.

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There was a point when I was by myself, Skip, Demi and RCF had gone for food and a chatter member had come up to me and pointed out that there should have been more Chatter members in attendance; “They complain but they can’t come to a night of baseball?” This was a valid statement.  We have 6k members and approximately 40 showed up.  Previously we had attempted to galvanize the community to vote for Torrington in the CT Fan Favorite on line contest; voting was free, fast and easy and you could vote every day, but although Torrington got on the board (#6 out of 169 cities and towns) we had never pushed beyond #6 as of the final week.  There was always a core group on Chatter participated, who got involved; that number was less than 20. In the final days a core group rose to maybe 35. I recognize their names.  Many were there at the park.

I pointed to the food that had been collected.

“History is made by those who show up,” I said.

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A performance of a Journey song in the bleachers

In between innings, the Titans had many festive events like a race between some children and the Titan’s mascot, T-shirts and pizza for the loudest cheers. Joey Abis, who has an exceptional singing voice, sang a journey song to entertain the crowd and it was not surprising that Chatter members were the ones who sang with him. It was a fun moment.  We announced the winner of the gift certificate and a four pack of Titans tickets (I used random.com to randomly select the numbers).  Separately, they had a 50/50 raffle.

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Photobombing

Futures League baseball is about the communities that host the teams. The teams provide fun, family sports entertainment. Some players get called up to the majors-two Titans players were drafted this year so the stars of tomorrow might be on the local field tonight. It’s happened before and will happen again. There are only 3 more games in the regular season for the Titans at Fuessenich Park.  The ticket prices are more than reasonable (6 dollars adults, 4 for kids under 18) so I encourage attendance for one or all of these games.

Tonight I saw a friend throw out the first pitch and another friend sing the national anthem. I saw my friend’s children race Titus across the field and I saw other friends sing a Journey song together in the bleachers. I saw some members in the community donate to a worthy cause and many members of a larger community support a local business that provides entertainment to so many. It’s community baseball, one of the many, many benefits we enjoy in Torrington and I was grateful to be a part of it on a cool Tuesday night.

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Fantastic fans

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