Westport Cardinals enjoy adult league championship
Published 6:18 pm, Wednesday, October 12, 2016
After suffering a crushing loss in the finals the year before, the Westport Cardinals of the Connecticut Men’s Senior Baseball League regrouped for a championship push.
This time the group crossed the finish line, taking the best two out of three series against Newtown to win the town’s first league title since 2001.
The team — which plays its home games at Staples, Wakeman and Doubleday depending on availability - is made up of former collegiate and recreational players. The minimum age for the league is 28, but each team is allowed three players as young as 25. Players must be out of any professional ranks for three years to keep competitive balance.
Thornton joined the Cardinals in 2003 and still plays for the team. A 1989 Staples graduate, Thornton played at Northeastern University. He became manager for Westport in 2008.
Teams play every weekend from April until late September, which eventually totals between 20-25 games. Westport split a doubleheader Newtown Sept. 25 at Doubleday Field after winning the opening game of the series in Danbury.
The deciding win came after Newtown evened the series at 1-1 earlier in the day with a 6-4 win. Despite throwing 93 pitches the day before, Steve Anagnostou took the ball again for the Cardinals. However, the offense did most of the damage, cranking out 14 hits and prevailing 14-5.
Westport’s bats came alive during the elimination tournament. In seven postseason games, Westport knocked out 69 hits and scored 54 runs.
“I think when we came down to the playoffs and won first series, we had a bunch more confidence,” Thornton said.
The national full-field, wood bat league began in 1986 and Westport joined the Connecticut ranks in 1991. There are more than 20 teams in Connecticut and 12 compete in the southwest league.
Thornton said the league provides an excellent opportunity for adults who still have a passion for the game to hone their skills in a competitive environment. Thornton
“We’re a team but behave like a family,” Thornton said. “We all love baseball and playing for this team.”