The 9th Annual Ruffnecks Banquet was held Monday, November 21st at The Fours in Quincy, MA. The event continues to be an important and enjoyable evening for families and teammates to get together during the off-season. Two long-time friends of the Ruffnecks program served as guest speakers: Rich Gedman and Matt Hyde. In addition, former Ruffneck Adam Ravenelle sent a heartfelt message via email in which he credited the Ruffnecks for much of his success, adding “I could probably ramble for hours and tell you about the relationships I gained and the outstanding coaching I received, but I’m sure everyone would rather enjoy their food!” Ravenelle is currently pitching in the Detroit Tigers organization after a successful career at Vanderbilt where he closed out the 2014 NCAA Championship for the Commodores. “Rav” was a 5-year Ruffnecks, beginning at 13U and played high school baseball under coaches Kirk Fredericks and Matt Blake at Lincoln Sudbury.
Rich Gedman and Matt Hyde delivered meaningful talks, important for all to hear and to absorb. Geddy began his talk by asking the question, “Why do you play baseball?” His question led him to a reflection of how those who really love the game play for each other… in other words, those who are your teammates. Once you play for a scholarship, a college admission, a contract, or anything other than the game itself and teammates, you set yourself up for failure. Matt Hyde’s comments similarly echoed the values of playing for the right reasons. He used three examples of athletes with whom he had experience: Mike Trout (whom Hyde coached in the Area Code Games), Tom Brady (whom Mr. Hyde knows from Michigan), and Rich Hill, (whom Coach Hyde recruited to Michigan). Hill is a local resident of Milton who has endured several setbacks to have a stellar Major League Career. In each case, Hyde made very clear, that the quality of these athlete’s character carried them through doubt and frustrations. Each had to persevere even though others took their spots on rosters, got recruited over them, or simply did not believe in them. The question remains, are Ruffnecks players (and their parents) willing to let the player persevere on his own?
The evening ended with a celebration of the one award the program gives out every year: The Johnny Pesky Teammate Award. We do not boast about all-tournament teams, personal rankings on websites, or projected all-scholastic rankings or status. We just honor one player from each team for what he contributes to the fabric of TEAM. The 2016 Pesky Teammate Award winners are: 13U – Andy Pelc; 14U – Jack Palfrey; 15U – Evan Sleight; 16U – Rory Bordiuk; Senior – Henry Ennen. Each has his own story, with significance and meaning for his team and the program. We congratulate them all, and we thank the 150 players, families, coaches, and friends of the program who packed The Fours again for the 9th Annual Ruffnecks Banquet.