On Memorial Day weekend, Junior baseball teams will gather at Wilbraham’s McLaughlin Field near Spec Pond for a tournament dedicated to the memory of a fallen hero.
The tourney honors Kevin Ambrose, a 36-year police officer who was shot and killed on June 4, 2012, while responding to a domestic disturbance.
As Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said at the time, “Officer Kevin Ambrose wore his badge with honor and integrity, and served our city with a tremendous amount of pride and passion.”
Officer Ambrose also served the youth of Greater Springfield, devoting years to coaching junior soccer, basketball and baseball teams.
The Springfield Titans, one of the entries in the Wilbraham holiday tournament, have Springfield police officer Julio Vazquez as their coach. He has worked in law enforcement for 24 years, and has coached youth teams for 23. In 2018, he earned election to the Western Mass. Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Kevin Ambrose was a mentor to me after I came to Springfield (from Jersey City, New Jersey),” Vazquez said. “In dedication to his memory, my Titans will wear our white jerseys for our tournament games.”
The Titans already have played in their own Snowstorm Classic tournament, and the Diamond Nation April Blast in Flemington, New Jersey.
For the fourth time, Vazquez will take his team to Cooperstown, New York, to play in Dreams Park near the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Titans teams also played there in 2007, 2011 and 2013.
“We’ll play in Cooperstown (Aug. 10-15) and stay in the Dreams Park’s baseball village. It’s a great, opportunity for our team to kids with players from all over the country,” Vazquez said.
Meanwhile, his Titans look forward to the sixth annual Kevin Ambrose Tournament, an event dear to his heart.
HOLYOKE HALL: The Holyoke High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee will honor its Class of 2019 on Oct. 5 at The Wherehouse in Holyoke. Nominations are being accepted to recognize former athletes, coaches, teams and contributors for their achievements both on and off the playing field.
Proceeds from induction tickets, at $30, will be donated to the Holyoke High athletic department to help defray costs of running the program, including the purchase of equipment and uniforms.
The deadline for nominations: June 1. They can be submitted to Quentin Donohue, Holyoke High School, 500 Beech Street; or through the Holyoke Athletic Hall of Fame facebook page.
JASON AGAIN: Jason Wagner, a grandson of Howard and Rae Davis of East Longmeadow, continues to excel in weight events for his high school track team in Pennsylvania.
In his conference’s championship meet, he won the shot put with a heave of 58 feet, six inches. That broke his school’s record by four feet.
“Record shattered! Not just broken – annihilated!,” proud Grandpa Howie wrote.
Jason, the son of Craig and Jeri (Davis) Wagner, is a senior at Perkiomen Valley High School in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
At 5-foot-9 and 240 pounds, Jason has worked hard to become a winner in the shot put, discus, javelin and hammer throw. He plans to qualify in those events, for the Junior Olympics in Sacramento, California, July 22-28.
TENNIS CLUB MOURNS: In recent weeks, Springfield Tennis Club members mourned the loss of two past presidents.
Bob Puzzo, who died April 25, was a Springfield native and an active member of the STC at Forest Park. In addition to his time as club president, he served on the board of directors. He also coached the East Longmeadow High School boys’ tennis team, and thoroughly enjoyed playing team tennis.
Sandra (Sandie) Powell, of Agawam, who passed away in Arizona, staged highly successful monthly social mixers for the club for many years, along with her role as its president.
Her grandson, Alex Morse, is the mayor of Holyoke.
PUCKS PARMESAN: The Springfield Hockey Heritage Society will have its “Pucks Parmesan” fund-raiser Monday at Take 5 in Feeding Hills. This event helps the Heritage Society defray expenses involved in its signature event, “Hockeyday Springfield,” coming July 27 in the Young Building on the Eastern States Exposition grounds near the Coliseum, where so much hockey history was made.
“Pucks Parmesan” also gives society members and their guests an opportunity to talk about the Springfield Thunderbirds season in the American Hockey League.
For tickets to “Pucks Parm,” at $20, call Steve’s Sports at 413-746-1696 or visit hockeyspringfield.org
TODAY’S TRIVIA: Who holds the record for most teams played for in a baseball career? The answer comes from Walter Krzeminski of Chicopee, who happens to be a baseball researcher of the first rank. According to Walter’s digging, the record belongs to an obscure pitcher named Bill Sisler. In a 22-year career which ended in 1948 (when he was 47 years old). Sisler pitched for 41 minor league teams, never above Class AA. He was signed by the Springfield Rifles of the Eastern League on July 4, 1943, after being released by Trenton of the EL. He posted a 1-8 record, then drew another release. Nobody else on Krzeminski’s list comes close to Sisler’s 41 teams. Tied for second are major league pitcher Octavio Dotel and Chicopee’s Mike Hickey, each with 27. Hickey, a second baseman, played only one game of his long career in the big leagues, going 1 for 3 with the Boston Beaneaters of 1899.
BEST BET for the weekend: Improbable, in the Preakness at Pimlico.
Garry Brown can be reached at [email protected]