“Baseball is Spoken Here”

2017 Banquet - Seniors

On Monday, November 20th the Ruffnecks hosted the 10th Annual Ruffnecks Banquet at The Fours in Quincy.  Once again, it was a packed house with almost 175 people in attendance.  The evening featured four guest speakers.  Matt Hyde, a banquet “regular,” kicked off the evening by relating the “Stay at 17 Inches” speech by legendary coach John Scolinos.  Longtime Ruffnecks benefactor, Stu Porter, delivered the main address with a speech that spoke about the journey of baseball for parents, players, and family.  Mr. Porter’s speech spoke to the important themes of perspective, responsibility, and teammwork in the journey of athletes.  He used a dual platform of the Ruffnecks and his alma mater, the University of Michigan to weave a compelling talk.  Mike Gambino, Boston College baseball coach, entertained the gathering with several enjoyable anecdotes along with his passionate support of “Team-First” baseball.  Lastly, the Ruffnecks were surprised and graced by the attendance of Mr. David Dombrowski, President of Baseball Operations for the Boston Red Sox.  Mr. Dombrowski shared several wonderful baseball stories.  One was about the 2013 League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox when he was GM of Detroit.  Another story focused specifically on the camaraderie between teammates David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia.  The evening celebrated the graduating class of 2018 “Seniors” with recognition, a video, distribution of the Ruffnecks Yearbook, and revelry among players and parents, gathering together.  The program thanks the staff of The Fours for another year of spectacular service!

Johnny Pesky Teammate Award Winners

Red Sox President, Dave Dombrowski, at 2017 Banquet

The true highlight of the Banquet is the awarding of the Johnny Pesky Teammate Awards at the very end of the evening.  No player can win the award twice in his career.  It is the only award and distinction the program recognizes.  We do not celebrate statistics, rankings, or all-tournament achievements… Only the Pesky Award.  The 2017 recipients of Pesky Award were:

  • 13U – Mark Henshon
  • 14U – Tommy Leimkuhler
  • 15U – Lucas Stowe
  • 16U – Danny Cooke
  • Seniors – Jamie Hauswirth

The evening was a warm celebration of the program.  11 of the newly selected 13U class also attended.  Returning players from 14U to Seniors took the opportunity to reunite, enjoy each other’s company, and to relive and exaggerate the feats of the past season.  The Annual Banquet is the most meaningful evening of the year for Ruffnecks players and families.  Fourteen of this year’s Seniors made the trip to The Fours, including many 5-year veterans.  The evening recognized 17 players who have played for the Ruffnecks for 4 or 5 years.

The Importance of Teammates (The following is reprinted)

The last of The Teammates has passed on…  Bobby Doerr, Red Sox #1 (retired on the facade of right field), Hall of Fame player, the oldest living MLB player at the time of his death, and one of four central figures in David Halberstam’s acclaimed book, The Teammates.

Doerr’s passing is a reminder that those of us who understand the history of baseball are obligated to keep memories and awareness alive and vibrant.  Our young players have sound bites, web gems, and video to teach them the game… not box scores, or the visualization of “seeing” the game on the radio.  This generation will write its own history of baseball, indeed.  We are challenged to maintain connections to understanding… through reminders of players like Doerr, Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, or Johnny Pesky.

Back in August of 2012, when Johnny Pesky died, we posted a similar article on this website. A portion of that article is reprinted below:

The Teammates records the relationships forged over a lifetime among a group of players: Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dominic DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky.  Local TV personality Dick Flavin, who spoke at last year’s (2011) Ruffnecks banquet, is also an important figure in the non-fiction account of the final trip taken by the teammates to the bedside of Ted Williams in the Splinter’s final days.  The significance of The Teammates in the context of the Ruffnecks program is bound to the most fundamental principle of our core values: Baseball is a TEAM game.  The values of team play, teammates, and building lasting relationships that extend beyond the foul lines is crucial to the soul of a player and his team.

Pesky Award Winner - Jamie Hauswirth

Each year at the Ruffnecks banquet we give out ONE award for each team, and it is named after Johnny Pesky… the Johnny Pesky Teammate Award.  Each of the past five years Johnny has personally signed a copy of the The Teammates to our award winners.  Of course this year’s recipients will not enjoy that autograph on their award, but the meaning and the significance of the award will never diminish.  Johnny was a close personal friend.  He knowingly lent his name to our award, and he graciously signed the books each year.  Johnny Pesky was a great teammate who never wavered in his loyalty to his friends Ted, Dom, Bobby, and many others. We believe teammates truly matter.  They are the source of laughs, wonderment, joy, and bonding that endure when we no longer can hit or throw a baseball.  Those who play for themselves miss more than they will ever know.

It is with profound sadness that we now lose Bobby Doerr.  But we have our Ruffnecks award in his teammate, Johnny Pesky’s name, along with the book that tells their story.  Those who have won it, should cherish their books.  Future winners can remind themselves of all that really matters… Teammates.

The Johny Pesky Teammate Award

Given to the player who, by his actions, attitude, his daily work ethic, and his willingness to think less about himself than his team, provides an example for his teammates.  He is a player who finds a way to contribute whether he is in the line-up or not; whether he is 4 for 4, or had a bad day.  He is a “fox-hole” guy that coaches and fellow players appreciate.

Let’s face the fundamental truth about baseball… The game cannot be played without teammates.  Despite the allure of showcase teams, prospect lists, and the like, the exhilaration of success with teammates is the tie that binds us to the game.  It must never change.