Surrounded by regional baseball history, Dan Duquette inducted to Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame
HADLEY — Dan Duquette didn't have to think long about the question.
"What an honor to go in the the guys that are going in" to the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame.
Duquette, the vice president of baseball operations with the Baltimore Orioles, was one of eight inductees as part of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2018. The ceremonies were held Thursday night at the Hadley Farms Meeting House.
"I'm thrilled to be here along with this elite group of baseball people," Duquette said during remarks at the ceremony. "I'm really thrilled to be going in with Bart Giamatti, what a man. You guys are great role models for the next generation of Western Mass. greatness.
"I've been around baseball for a long time, and baseball coaches in Western Mass., I'll put them up against anybody anywhere else in the world."
A. Bartlett Giamatti, a native of South Hadley, was part of this class that also included former Major League Baseball pitcher Chris Capuano; Arthur "Ace" Adams, a longtime minor league coach; the late Archie Allen, a Pittsfield native who coached at Springfield College; former UMass All-American Steve Newell; Julio Vazquez, a longtime Springfield youth baseball leader; and the Holyoke High School baseball team of 1985 that won the state Division I championship.
In addition, 11-year old Brady Kahle of Wilbraham was awarded the Bunny Taliaferro Community Service Award. Kahle got involved with fund raising for cancer research when his friend Landen Palatino was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer and had surgery in 2016. Kahle sold some of his baseball card collection to raise money, and that turned into the Cards4ACause movement that has raised more than $20,000.
Surrounded by many members of his family and friends from Dalton and Amherst College, the former Red Sox general manager was smiling the whole night.
"I'm really happy to share it with my family," said the Dalton native. "It's [also] really a testament to all the great coaches that come out of Western Massachusetts.
"Jimmy Rivers, Buddy Pellerin, [former Amherst College coach] Bill Thurston. I got to work with all of those guys. And Harry Dalton, who's a Western Mass. guy," and gave Duquette his start with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Duquette was also the evening's guest speaker.
"The last time we had this many people together was when I was Van Buren in 'Damn Yankees.'" he said, launching into one of many stories that had the capacity crowd in the meeting center laughing.
"On the Saturday night of the performance [of Damn Yankees] at Wahconah Park, I walked out on the stage. I didn't do anything, and the audience started clapping. I came off the stage, and our Lola was a girl named April Nixon," Duquette said.
Nixon had toured in the show with the late Jerry Lewis, who played Mr. Applegate, the devil.
"When I came off the stage, [Nixon] grabbed me after I got this great ovation and said 'Hey Duquette, these people love you,'" he said. "Knock it off.' This is Lola's show.
"I said I have 70 comps out there in the audience tonight."
With the addition of Duquette and Allen, there are now four baseball people with Berkshire County ties in the Western Mass. Hall of Fame. Art Ditmar was inducted in 2015 and Tom Grieve was inducted last year. One could add the late Carl Beane to the list. Beane, the long-time Red Sox public address announcer, had one of his earliest radio jobs at WBRK in Pittsfield.
Capuano grew up in West Springfield, played for Springfield Cathedral and Duke University before embarking on a baseball career that would include 12 seasons in the majors. He won 77 games in 12 seasons, had two Tommy John surgeries on his pitching (left) arm, and pitched for six different clubs. Capuano was drafted twice, signing with Arizona after being selected in the eighth round of the 1999 draft.
Capuano played for the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Brewers.
"It means a lot to me at this stage of my life," Capuano said of his induction, "having ended my Major League career about a year ago and transitioning into kind a new identity. It's always a hard thing for anybody, and I find especially for a ballplayer. To be back here with so many people that were supportive of me and encouraging of me growing up, does mean a lot."
Duquette's first baseball job was with the Brewers, where he was hired by West Springfield native Harry Dalton, another Amherst College graduate.
Thurston, Duquette said, arranged for an interview with Dalton when the Brewers visited at Yankee Stadium.
"I got done with the interview and I said 'Did I get the job Harry?' He goes, 'Wait a second,'" Duquette said. " 'I grew up in West Springfield. You grew up in Western Mass. You went to Amherst College and your town is Dalton?' I said, 'yeah, that's true.'
"'If I didn't hire you, it would be turning my back on myself. Of course you got the job.'"
The rest, as they say, is Western Mass. Baseball Hall of Fame history.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, and 413-496-6253.
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