When Andy Pelc’s baseball team in the Greenfield Minor League needed a catcher three years ago, he was the only player to raise his hand and take a chance.
It proved to be the right decision.
On Friday, the 10-year old from Whately will be among 288 players throughout the nation who will vie for a spot on the Team USA 12-year-old team when he plays in a tournament in Cary, N.C.
Pelc began playing baseball when he was 7 and joined the GML. He played three seasons in that league, but this season, split time between the GML and his AAU baseball team called the Western Mass. Storm, which plays out of Agawam. Pelc, who I found out is no relation to any of the Pelc boys that have caught for Greenfield High School in recent years, got into catching that first season when his team had just one other catcher. That player also pitched for the team, which meant the squad needed another catcher. When the coach asked, Pelc put his hand in the air.
“It was kind of unexpected,” the Hatfield Elementary School fifth-grader said on Sunday night. “I was the only one that was willing to try and catch.”
Now, four years later, does he think he made the right decision? You bet.
“It’s fun because you’re involved in every play,” he said of the position.
To qualify for this weekend’s tournament in Cary, Pelc first had to go to Allentown, Pa. on Aug. 6 where he was involved in a one-day tryout along with players from all over the northeast, including all of New England, New York, and Pennsylvania.
“I was very nervous,” Pelc said of the tryouts. “It was a great experience.”
He then had to wait a few weeks until he heard back to find out if he was one of the players chosen to play on the North Atlantic team at the upcoming tournament. He eventually got the call saying he made the team, and now he is preparing to head off to North Carolina.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
He will now take part in the aforementioned tournament in front of scouts from Team USA, which will select just 18 players from that group of 288 to play for the Team USA squad which will represent the country at various overseas tournaments.
As for Pelc’s favorite team? It’s of course the Boston Red Sox. His favorite player? It’s not Red Sox catcher Jared Saltalamacchia. He’s a Jacoby Ellsbury guy.
Mike Duclos begins classes at Worcester Polytechnic Institute this week and helping him pay for that education will be a $1,000 scholarship he received from the Massachusetts American Legion Baseball program.
Duclos, who pitched for Greenfield Post 81 over the summer, became the first player ever from Greenfield to receive the award, according to team chairman Bill Phelps.
“We are all very proud of Mikey’s accomplishments both on the field and in the school/community as well,” Phelps said.
Think the Vegas oddsmakers struggle to set betting lines on the first weekend of the season because they haven’t seen the teams in action yet? While this may be true, the UMass-Wisconsin game certainly showed that they know what they are doing. For weeks, we had run in America’s Line that UMass was a 441∕2-point underdog in Saturday’s season-opener. UMass wound up losing 45-0.
To say I’m giddy about the start of the NFL season might be an understatement.
Since the end of hockey season (and I’m still trying to shake that off), I have not gotten my fix of sports where men hit each other at high speeds. It also means the start of the New York Giants’ season.
I know there are a lot of us Giant fans living in Patriot country, and you’re not likely to see a Giant preview in this newspaper any time soon. So I guess it’s up to me to give you something.
The Giants finished last season 9-7 overall and 3-3 in the NFC East, missing the playoffs one season after winning the Super Bowl over a team I won’t dare mention here. The biggest reason for the stumble, as seems to be the case with this team from time-to-time during Tom Coughlin’s tenure, is the inconsistency.
Offensively, the Giants have all the tools necessary to be among the league’s best. Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and, despite that goofy look he is all-too-famous four, he does possess an above-average arm. The biggest issue he has is that he seems to enjoy throwing interceptions at very bad times. And when the interceptions come, they come in bunches.
He once again has Victor Cruz back to lead the receivers and the former UMass player will hopefully be doing his little salsa dance in the end zone a lot, even if the dance may be getting a little old. Second-year running back David Wilson takes over as the full-time back and he is explosive. I say that knowing full well that I also drafted him on my fantasy football team, so these fingers remain crossed (when not typing).
I think the make-or-break issue for the Giants is going to be the defense. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell needs to right the ship this season after the defense was abysmal at times last fall. When the Giants were winning Super Bowls, the pass rush was making up for the lack of talent at linebacker and in the secondary. When the Giants get no pressure, they don’t seem to have the playmakers at the other positions to help out. I think the secondary is better this season. The linebackers may be worse.
So what does all this mean? Well, like Boston Bruins play-by-play man Jack Edwards, I’m a huge homer. I have the Giants going 11-5 and of course winning the Super Bowl (which just happens to be in New York) . And they get off to a good start this weekend against their nemesis the Dallas Cowboys. Giants open up with a 32-17 win, in which Wilson rushes for two touchdowns and 120 yards (fingers crossed, remember?).
As for the Patriots? As I told Patriot fans and co-workers Mark Durant and Gary Sanderson, I have them going 7-9. Then again, I also reminded them both that if the Giants do in fact make the Super Bowl, I’d love to see the Patriots as the opposition. The Giants do have a nice little track record against them in the big game.
Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.