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NHS Baseball Alums Enjoy Afternoon On The Diamond



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Players representing seven decades of strikeouts, home runs, and tag plays gathered for the first Newtown High School Alumni Baseball Game on June 8. The event was organized by current Assistant Coach Joe Crimi, current Head Coach Ian Thoesen, and Deb Lombardo.

Parents of current players involved included Todd Piccuillo serving as umpire, Jenn Dalton taking photos, and Michelle Garrity on hand as EMT. NHS Public Address Announcer Jason “J” Edwards did his thing at the microphone, announcing players, and also got some swings in during the afternoon.

“It was a really nice time,” said 1968 graduate Jim Shpunt, who took batting practice and fielded hit balls during pregame activities before watching the younger participants compete in a Blue versus Gold scrimmage.

Shpunt said things have changed a lot since his playing days, including the size of the players. “They seem bigger now than when I played,” he said, adding that most of the recent graduates stand over 6 feet tall, and that he was also impressed with their abilities.

They used wooden bats when Shpunt played. He noted that it is said aluminum bats of today add several points to batting averages. A .320 hitter his senior year, Shpunt had a knack for getting on base. “I could have been over .400, maybe, with an aluminum bat,” he said with a laugh.

Crimi is a 1983 NHS graduate who was a standout player and led the 1982 team to the Western Connecticut Conference title with a dramatic game-winning grand slam against Bethel. More than 40 years later he was happy just to be on the field. “It was fun. I didn’t get hurt,” said Crimi, who had a propensity to reach base and not strike out during his career, and showed he can still put the bat on the ball.

A longtime coach with the Nighthawks, Crimi said it was great to see so many former players. “I probably coached 99 percent of the kids there,” he pointed out. “I view them as family.”

That included 2023 grad Logan Akbas, who won the home run derby, and several players who graduated in the past few years.

“I thought it was so cool to see so many kids, so many great baseball players we’ve had from the past,” NHS Athletic Director and former Baseball Coach Matt Memoli said.

There were more than two-dozen participants, including Jim Marcucilli (1977), Mike Porco (1994), Matt Zavatsky (1996), and David Marcucilli (2005) who came all the way from Colorado, plus many from the past decade or so.

“Hopefully we’ll do it every year and it gets bigger and bigger,” Crimi said.

“I enjoyed it. I’ll be there every year as long as I can walk and whatnot,” Shpunt added.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Jim Shpunt (1968) shows he’s still got it as he puts the bat on the ball during the Newtown High School baseball alumni game activities at NHS on June 8. Players from a variety of graduating classes came together for some fun on the field, including a scrimmage and home run derby. —photos courtesy Jenn Dalton
Alexander Kasbarian (Class of 2022) tries to tag Ryan Verdi (2022) on steal attempt as Charlie Huegi (2015) looks on.
Matt Pietrorazio (2022) makes a throw across the infield.
Jim Marcucilli (1977) follows through on his swing.
Kyle Roche (2018) delivers a pitch.
Assistant Coach Joe Crimi (1983) makes solid contact.
Jason “J” Edwards, a Newtown High teacher, public address announcer, and vintage base ball player, shows his power at the plate.
Assistant Coach Joe Crimi (1983), left, congratulates home run derby champion Logan Akbas (2023).
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1 comment
  1. karblaze says:

    I was expecting my youngest brother, Kevin Booker to have participated in this. He was an NHS BB & FB star. He is still as fit as he was in high school. Nauseatingly so!

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