Capital District (NY) 55 + Division

Capital District Giants 12, Cardinals 2

By Jim Konstantakis, manager, Capital District 55 Giants

2014 was the Giants inaugural year in the 55 and over division of the Capital District MSBL, located in and around Albany, New York. The 55 Giants wasted no time making an impact on the league in their new bracket. They opened their 15-game regular season schedule with an exciting 4-3 victory over the Cardinals, who had won the title in both 2011 and 2012. The game ended when a Cardinals runner was thrown out at the plate. From there the Giants rolled through the regular season at 15-0 with exciting victories over the powerhouses Americans (3-2) and Yankees (5-4). Al Wolfer went the distance against the Americans in notching his first-ever pitching victory while Mike Lannon’s walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh won the game.

In the playoffs the Giants went right to the semi-finals where they defeated the defending champion Yankees, 5-4, and then capped their unbelievable perfect 20-0 season with 4-2 and 12-2 victories over the Cardinals in the finals to take their first 55 and over crown.

With the championship, the Giants became just the second team in all of CDMSBL’s 25 year history to go unbeaten. The Yanks went 12-0 in 2009, the first year of the 55 division.

Darrell Duncan pitched the Giants into the finals with a brilliant 4-3 performance over the Yankees in the semis. For good measure, he blasted a two-run homer. He then pitched five innings in game one against the Cardinals with team manager Jim Konstantakis closing it out the finals two innings. Konstantakis, also known as‘Jimmy K,’ tossed a complete-game three-hitter in game two to clinch the title and put an exclamation point on his 0.82 season ERA.

“I’ve not seen an amateur team at this level so mentally and physically prepared to play on every pitch for a complete game,” Jimmy K said of his Giants teammates.

The defense was outstanding, led by shortstop Ralph Caputo and second baseman Tony Nardacci. With Bill Smith catching and Duncan patrolling center field, the Giants were as strong up the middle as any team in any division.

Tom Maney in left field and Mike Lannon in right gave the Giants the speed and agility to cover the corners in the outfield. With Jim Whitford snaring hard-hit balls at third base and Pete Geannelis scooping throws and going back and coming in on pop-ups at first base, the Giants had great infield corner strength as well. The Giants committed just one error in the playoffs.

Offensively, top to bottom, the Giants bring the lumber. They led the division in runs scored (163) and home runs (5) with Fred Pidgeon blasting two of them. However, Pete Geannelis hit three homers to lead the team while adding a team-leading two triples. The Giants hit an unbelievable .501 as a team for the regular season.

Ron Smaka led the entire division in hitting with a robust .609 average, yet the Giants had to make do without him in the finals. Ron tore a planter’s tendon running out a base hit in the semis.

“The thing that makes us what we are is the camaraderie,” Lannon said. “It’s the best group of guys I think I have ever been around.”

Concluded coach Jimmy K, “We stick around after games and just laugh till it hurts. Maney, Duncan, Lannon, Fred Pidgeon, Bill Smith and Al Wolfer should have their own comedy routine. This is the kind of season you hate to see end.”

55 Giants team members and their regular-season stats:

Mike Lannon(CF/LF/RF .279)

Tom Maney(LF/1B leadoff hitter; .378; 17 stolen bases)

Darrell Duncan (.550; 3-0 pitching 0.58 ERA; plays anywhere he’s asked to play)

Peter Geannelis (RF/1B/C/P .525, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 3 HRs, 20 RBIs;3-0 pitching)

Bill Smith(C/3B/RF 4-5 hitter; .390; 11very clutch RBIs; 1-0 pitching)

Ron Smaka(1B/2B/3B/SS/C; 4-5 hitter,.609 led the league; 16 RBIs)

Jim Whitford(3B/P/LF .545, 5 doubles in just 8 games)

Ralph Caputo(SS .396 with 12 RBIs; 3-0 pitching)

Tony Nardacci (2B, .486, 13 RBIs)

Fred Pidgeon(DH/1B/RF .462, 2 HRs, 18 hits, 20 RBIs)

Al Wolfer(3B/LF/P .381; 1-0 pitching)

Jeff Teats(C/3B/LF .343; clutch hitter)

Jim Konstantakis (P/RF/2B .325, 9 RBIs, .514 OBP; 4-0 pitching 0.82 ERA)

Jerry Solomon (3 games hit .667, 1-0 pitching)

Doug Zmyewski (out injured this season)