Howard Herman: PHS duo to represent the county in Mass. junior all-star baseball game
The high school sports season came to an official end on Saturday in Worcester. That means it's full-on time for the baseball season.
And two Pittsfield High School baseball players are making the drive today to Waltham to play in the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association's Junior All-Star Game.
Shortstop Kevin Donati, who verbally committed to UAlbany last week, and centerfielder Chad Shade are two of the seniors-to-be who will be playing in the All-Star clash.
It is quite an honor for the pair, who went to the Babe Ruth World Series in Arkansas two summers ago. More importantly, it demonstrates to the rest of the commonwealth that we can play some pretty good baseball in the Berkshires.
Regular visitors in this space don't need to be reminded that we have some good baseball and it is sometimes given short shrift because of our geography.
The players who come from a true baseball county deserve more.
The All-Star Game invitations are not just to honor Donati and Shade; they also honor their Little League, Babe Ruth and high school coaches.
Since summer wood-bat college baseball came to Berkshire County, there have been several famous family members who have worn the uniforms of the old Pittsfield Dukes or the North Adams SteepleCats.
There has never, however, been a player who played Little League baseball in Berkshire County but wasn't from the Berkshires.
That run ended on Thursday night, when Will Toffey pinch hit in the eighth inning for the Martha's Vineyard Sharks in a 2-1 loss to the Pittsfield Suns. Toffey's manager with the Sharks is his older brother, John.
Toffey was a member of the Tom Wallace Barnstable American Little League All-Star team that played in the 2007 state championships. Those games were played at Belanger Field.
Toffey's team was beaten by Pittsfield 10-2 in the first game and then lost to Peabody West in an early elimination game.
Toffey's father, and Great Barrington native, Jack, managed that team. Jack Toffey went to Berkshire School and later became a player's agent. One of his best-known clients was Dalton's Turk Wendell.
Will Toffey, now an infielder, was the catcher on that Barnstable team.
The Yankees took the Salisbury School product, a classmate of former St. Joseph player Zach Neary, in the 23rd round of this year's MLB First-Year player draft. Toffey told me that he was going to honor his commitment to Vanderbilt University and not sign with New York.
The Yankees did sign Austin DeCarr,Toffey's classmate. DeCarr, from Foxborough, got a $1 million bonus, more than $400,000 above the slot he was picked in. Big things are going to be expected from DeCarr in The Bronx.
On the subject of the MLB Draft, former Pittsfield Suns pitcher Matt Gage has signed a contract with the San Francisco Giants.
Gage, who pitched for manager Jamie Keefe in the Suns' inaugural Futures League season, was taken in the 10th round. The Giants have not assigned Gage to a team yet.
Oh, and way to represent your alma mater, kid. The Siena product was videotaped by Albany TV stations wearing a Southern Vermont hoodie. Gage's older brother Dave is the head coach there.
Friday night marked my fourth home opening baseball game of the season. First, it was Fenway Park for the Red Sox opener, and then it was -- in quick order -- the Suns and SteepleCats last weekend.
I spent Friday with Pittsfield's Rick Murphy and the Tri-City ValleyCats as they hoisted their New York-Penn League championship banner. I remember when Murphy had the ceremony at Wahconah Park in 1998 the June after Kevin McCarthy's single won the 1997 title for the Pittsfield Mets.
If you are a Berkshire baseball fan, circle the 2015 openers because with a little good fortune, one of your teams could be raising a banner of their own.
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.
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