story & photo
by Christopher Annino
On Monday, April 27th, Rico Petrocelli, all-star short stop, and Jim Lonborg, Cy Young Award-wining pitcher, from the 1967 Boston Red Sox Impossible Dream, presented and signed autographs at the Groton Inn and Suites. The event was the final installment of CT Dugout Club series, which will begin again in October.
Prior to the event Roger Lafrancois, co-founder, CT Dugout Club and professional baseball coach, presented a moving speech in memory of Rookie of the Year Award-winning pitcher Mark “Big Bird” Fidrych. Mark was originally scheduled to be one of the guest presenters during the CT Dugout series, but he was recently killed in an automobile accident. “Mark was a good friend and a great ball player. I had the privilege to catch him in one of his last minor league games, and it is a tremendous loss for everyone. He was such an amazing person,” said Roger.
During the event diehard Red Sox fans were able to interact with each of the baseball legends. The event was full of fans, ball players, and officials of all ages and backgrounds. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful beginning.
Ten-year-old Matthew Rooke Fanelli, Lyme, recently pitched in his first little league game for the Reds. “Mr. Petrocelli told me to really have fun and to keep trying. It was really cool meeting him,” he said.
Mike Ide, umpire, Killingly, rushed from a high school game to make it on time. He added, “Being a part of the Eastern Board of Umpires, I have gained much knowledge from speaking to a lot of these pro ball players especially Bill ‘The Spaceman’ Lee.”
At the end of the night Rico said, “In sports and in life, give it all you have so when your are done you can look back on your accomplishments.” He also added, in regards to the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, “When both teams are great, it is the best medicine for baseball because that’s when you see two talented teams play the best baseball there is.”