15 Feb 8th Annual Vermont Summer Classic-Recap June 22-23, 2018
The 8th Annual Vermont Summer Classic at historic Little Fenway in Essex, VT was yet another amazing tournament. It seems every year’s tournament tops the previous one in some way, and last year was true to form. 2018’s was highlighted by the spirited energy of new teams including Hallam-ICS, the surprising success of first-year entrant Lions’ Striders (Middlebury Lions Club) and the championship-level play of such stalwart teams as the Purple Pumpers, Breakin’ Ballers and new champion, The Garage. Team IBEW matched their fun and competitive play with their highest fundraising yet, nearly beating out The Garage and its captain, Liam O’Farrell. $72,410 was raised by fourteen teams, 216 players competed, 35 games were played, 155 players fundraised and 34 volunteers contributed over 1,000 hours to help make it all possible.
Our Volunteers Crushed It!
Any conversation about all of our tournaments and their success begin and end with Dan Pion, our team and tournament coordinator and jack-of-all-trades. He is the schedule architect, the point person for anything teams need including captain kits, team registrations, player waivers, fundraising activities such as our lotto game, newsletters and updates; and that’s a tiny portion of his do-everything list. He does this all while leading his team, the Fighting Wifflers, toward the top of the fundraising leader board and deep into the playoffs. He is our organization’s MVP, year-in and year-out.
Carol-Ann Remillard is our Tournament Week MVP. She brought it all together working with Dan and the volunteer crew on everything including roster and line-up submittals, PowerRanking updates, scheduling, raffles, wild card selection, Opening Ceremonies, volunteer coordination, and everything else on her list…and mine. The amazing thing: she did this and stayed upbeat throughout the weekend, despite regularly stopping to watch her fiance’ Colin Chevalier every time he stepped into the batters’ box and called, “Honey, watch me!” BTW: He went 1 for 22, with 16 strikeouts.
Larry Riegert, one of our inaugural Hall of Famers, was once again AMAZING! He has been a force since the first Summer Classic. Larry and his umpire crew volunteered their time the entire weekend and when not calling games tended base paths and worked to keep the fields in great shape the entire weekend.
The volunteer crew is a small army many regulars who year after year are nothing but regularly phenomenal: Beverly Hill at registration/info/raffle; Joel Kynoch, Mike “Mojo” Moshovetis, Andy Boyle and Ethan O’Day behind the microphones and scoring tables; Tom “Juicy” Joyce and Lance Gilman leading the team of game, audio and field crews; Caroline, the Angolano family, Monica O’Melia, Sean and Becky Causey, the Keefes and all the team volunteers who pitched in. Chris Walker donated his professional photography services to provide us with many images of all the weekend action.
Jim and Cathy Desmond of Scooters, Lonie and Chrystal Parker of Porky’s Backyard BBQ and Paul and Colleen Palmer of Palmer Lane Maple provided yummy and affordable food for everyone.
We also extend our deep appreciation and gratitude to our friends Pat and Beth O’Connor and the Travis Roy Foundation for providing us with the venue and inspiration to play this wonderful backyard game so that we can help change the lives of people living with Type 1 diabetes.
Tournament Action: Close Games and Wild Fun!
Fourteen teams packed in four games each of qualifying play, and eight of them made it to the playoff round, including newcomers Hallam-ICS and the Lions Striders. The Lions Striders, a team comprised of members of the Middlebury Lions Club and their friends, surprised many by getting through its round of games 2-2, then powering through the playoffs to the championship game against The Garage.
Jack Carney’s perennial powerhouse Purple Pumpers once again played well but came up just short of the championship game. Tied 1-1 after an extra eighth inning, the teams went into the first tie-breaker, a Home Run Derby. While Pumper and Garage fans cheered for a game-winning homer, many in the crowd hoped for a tie that would send the two teams into a whacky wheelbarrow race around the infield. The latter was not to be as Derek Sanderson launched a moon shot homer to send The Garage into the championship game.
There were several close games, and yes, a few blowouts. One game that had everyone on the edge of their seats for the laughter and hilarity was the Friday night game between IBEW and Burlington Rugby Club. The game’s outcome was never in doubt as IBEW plated five runs in the bottom of the first inning on the way to a 9-3 win. Few paid attention to the scoreboard, as the on-field antics and the good-natured “dialogue” between the players, teams and even fans was nonstop Comedy Central. Joel Kynoch, our esteemed play-by-play announcer said afterward, “I’ve been doing these games for seven years and I haven’t had so much fun calling a game. Both teams were hilarious. My stomach hurt and I could hardly call the game!”
The Garage had a perfect weekend, going undefeated in regular play and looked like the team to beat after edging the Purple Pumpers. In the championship game they faced the upstart, first-year Lions Striders. While the Striders quietly made their way through the playoffs, many in the crowd expected The Garage to take the game going away. The Garage led 8-1 as the Striders came to bat in the top of the sixth. After having plated two in the sixth to close the gap to 8-3, the Striders loaded the bases in the last frame to set the stage for an epic comeback. It wasn’t to be. Tournament MVP Derek Sanderson then pitched out of the threat to dash the Striders hopes and secure the win for first-time champion Garage.
The Garage 2018 Vermont Summer Classic Champions!