2006 Alumni Baseball Game




    June 10, 2006




    It could not have turned out better if it was scripted.  A cool, sunny, and as usual, windy Starpoint baseball field was perfectly manicured by the Starpoint grounds crew (Sam Doak, Randy Miller, and Scott Gardner), and an outstanding setting for our First Annual Starpoint Baseball Alumni Game.


    It was great to see so many former Spartan baseball players.  As they picked up their team hats and shirts, it was obvious all were excited to return, have a chance to play real baseball again but most obvious, was the renewed relationships with former classmates and friends as well as meeting new Spartans from the different years.


    The skills of the players were still very good—some great catches and two double plays were turned during the game.  After a general warm-up and batting practice, the game began.  Team Grey (Even years) were given home designation (honorary coach-Rich Voelker ’66), and took the first big lead with 5 runs in the bottom of the 2nd after Team Garnet (Odd years with honorary coach-Fred Maliszewski ’71) scored the first alumni run in the top.


    Team Garnet came back with 5 runs and a 6-5 lead in the top of three highlighted with homeruns by Jeff Cacicia ’01 and Dan Tice ’95.  Bottom of the third, the Grey came back with 7 runs on triples by Rob Pusateri ’88 and Al Wagner ’74 along with a homerun by Jacob Jenks ’04, making the score 12-6 after three.  The “Home Greys” seemed to be putting it away with 4 more in the 4th on a homerun by Mike Giammusso ’84 and a 16-6 lead. 


    The 5th inning was comeback time for Team Garnet.  Five runs made the score 16-11 after 5.    Needing a boost with just 2 innings remaining, Fred Maliszewski ’71, the Garnet honorary coach, had had enough and inserted himself into the lineup and led off the top of the sixth with a single; this came after Fred was hit by a pitch which the umpire felt he intentionally leaned into it, and was not awarded first—Fred still owns a career record at Starpoint for being hit by pitches.  Fred was replaced by a pinch runner and received a huge round of applause from the teams and spectators.  Team Garnet proceeded to score 3 runs to bring it to 16-14.  The Greys came back with 2 runs with key hits by Mike Kramer ’76 and Don Rankie ’80 and a sack fly by Mike Koziol ’04 to go ahead 18-14 going to the seventh.


    As I said it couldn’t have been written better when the Greys inserted Al Wagner ’74 to pitch and Russ Chaffee ’74 to catch with hopes of closing out the victory.  Then with 2 outs, and the bases loaded Mark Ruppert ’79 pulled a tremendous shot down the right field line for a grand slam home run and the game was tied.  Wagner snagged the hardest hit ball of the day, a line shot up the middle by Nate Beutel ’05, to end the inning.  The crowd went crazy!


    The excitement wasn’t over.  The Greys needed one to claim bragging rights the 1st year.  With 2 outs and Jeff Kramer ’84 on second, Jim Blount ’88 singled to left.  The relay throw to home was a bang-bang, cloud of dust play and Jason Knuutila ’93 showed signs of the good old days as he hung on with the tag and the first ever alumni baseball game ended in an 18-18 tie!!


    I couldn’t ask for anything better.  Special thanks to Dave Austin and my wife, Liz, who worked the grill all day, Coaches Tim Racey (Varsity), Chris Prezioso (JV), Matt Marigilia (Modified), and Al Franco, who helped with batting practice and game operations.  Thanks also to Brenda Chaffee who did a great job keeping the scorebook. 


    The general consensus was this event is only going to get bigger.  Every one of the 32 who played had a great time—38 had signed up for the alumni gear.  I was thrilled to see so many outstanding players who brought back so many great memories. 


    Get the word to those who missed out or didn’t hear about Game One—plan on Game Two, June 9th, 2007.