Oct. 22, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
The Navy baseball program held its annual alumni game this past Saturday at Max Bishop Stadium. This year's game attracted nearly 40 former players from graduating classes as far back as the 1960s. The Friends of Navy Baseball booster group, former players and Skid Hayworth of the USNA Alumni Foundation all contributed to planning and putting on the event.
Dominic Nicolini ('02) was one of the former players instrumental in helping plan and organize the event.
"I know a lot of the guys that played in the late 90s through the early 2000s pretty well, so I was able to reach out to quite a few former players," said Nicolini. "Everyone is spread out throughout the country - and around the world - so it can be a challenge for people to come back and participate."
Saturday's event began with live batting practice and an address from head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. The former players in attendance were split into two teams with Zach Poelma ('03) captaining the Gold team and Nicolini leading the Blue squad.
Poelma, who earned two letters for the Midshipmen from 2002-03, turned in an MVP performance in the game. The former pitcher, who never had an at-bat in his career at Navy, put on a show at the plate as he went 2-for-3 with a double and a triple. The native of East Amherst, N.Y., also pitched two scoreless innings in relief as the Gold defeated Blue, 8-3.
"It was great to put the uniform back on," said Poelma. "I felt old at first, but once you get playing, any aches or pains you might have go away for at least a bit and you feel like you're 20 or 21 again."
While Poelma had an impressive showing on the field, it was the camaraderie outside the lines that made the event most memorable.
"The best part was being able to catch up with guys you played with and also getting to meet players from other eras," Poelma said.
One of those players from another era was Chuck Tebrich, who graduated in 1966, and was the most veteran former Mid on hand Saturday. Tebrich, who picked up a base hit in the game, enjoyed every aspect of the experience.
"It's something the alumni certainly enjoy, but you could tell the current players appreciated it as well," said Tebrich. "It's always fun to compare stories.
"Everyone that organized the event has done a great job."
Also taking part in Saturday's action were a handful of Navy's Major League Baseball draft picks, including Matt Foster, David Lowe, Mitch Harris, Oliver Drake, Alex Azor and Preston Gainey.
With attendance and participation at this year's game up over last season, the players left excited about the future of the event.
"It's great to see the event growing and we're looking forward to coming back next year," said Poelma.