July 4, 2014 08:58PM
By Ken Lipshez
Success has been the co-pilot for Ted Shaw as he navigated through a fruitful baseball career in Southington.
The infielder, his uniform always dirty in true Dustin Pedroia tradition, helped coach Charlie Lembo’s Blue Knights go deep in Class LL tournaments and Marc Verderame’s American Legion squad knock on the cabin door of a state title last summer.
Shaw went off to Sacred Heart University to further pursue his baseball career and academic pursuits when he hit a wall. In 51 games for the Pioneers, he batted .242, a number very foreign to him.
“It took some adjustments,” Shaw said. “Baseball-wise it was a great environment, and I got to play a lot as a freshman, which was pretty cool. We made it to the [Northeast Conference] championship. It’s a good business school and I’m majoring in business. It was a great freshman year. No complaints.”
The SHU coaching staff set him up for summer ball with the Sag Harbor Whalers, a team in the highly competitive Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League in eastern Long Island, and he’s back on the runway, rolling straight and true toward new frontiers in the college game come the fall.
Through Sunday, Shaw, a 5’10, 165-pound left-handed hitter, was ripping through the competition with a .383 batting mark. In 22 games, he had scored 22 runs, driven in 12, swiped eight bases in 12 tries and was reaching base at a stunning .495 clip. Against strong college competition, Shaw has discovered the Pedroia within him again.
“I feel locked in,” he said. “I come to the field relaxed. I didn’t have the greatest freshman year. I feel like I could have done more. I’m trying to play my game and stay relaxed. I’m letting the game come to me and having a good time. That really helps.
“I’d say 60 or 70 percent of the kids are from either down south or out of the Midwest, like the Chicago area and Ohio. It’s a very diverse team in terms of where we come from. It’s really cool to meet new people.”
Former New Britain Rock Cats closer Rob Delaney, whose professional career was derailed by a hip injury, is the Whalers’ pitching coach.
“Teddy’s a great ballplayer,” said Delaney, who posted some of the franchise’s best relief numbers in 2008 and 2009 (70 1/3 innings, 52 hits, 78 strikeouts, 13 walks, 1.54 ERA).
“He works hard, he hustles, he plays the game the right way. From everything I’ve seen, he’s going to be successful in this game and he’s fun to watch.”
Shaw’s coach at SHU Nick Giaquinto has been looking on with great interest.
“Since he walked on campus last fall, Ted has been a tremendous asset to our team and the university,” said Giaquinto, once an NFL running back with Miami and Washington after graduating from UConn in 1979. “He’s a tremendous student and a tremendous athlete although he struggled at the plate, but he’s the kind of guy you know will battle, battle, battle and keep getting better.
“We talked at the end of the season and he’s obviously working on everything because he’s tearing it up. It’s a competitive league. He’s seemed to raise his game to another level.”
The comfort of Shaw’s situation in Sag Harbor has enabled him to block out other distractions and concentrate on his game.
“It’s been fun here,” he said. “It’s a very small town, very family-oriented. The Hamptons have no chain restaurants, all local delis and family restaurants. It seems like you’re separated from everywhere else.”
The players live with host families.
“The team has a general manager who finds people housing,” Shaw said. “They advertise throughout the town to get people to house you. It’s definitely new experience. I had to move because people rent houses to people who are on vacation. That’s fine. There are very nice people throughout the town. It’s a good experience.”
Numerous players from the Meriden area are playing locally, three in the well-established New England Collegiate Baseball League, nine in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League with six in Torrington and six on Lembo’s Southington Shock in the Connecticut Collegiate Baseball League. The Hamptons circuit and the NECBL are among only 11 leagues sanctioned by the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball.
“It all runs through our assistant coaches,” Shaw said about his summer assignment. “You really don’t have a lot of options. They brought it up to me that they were looking for a left-handed hitting infielder and this was the first available position. You want to get as many reps as possible because you want to get better.”
In Sunday’s Record-Journal, Cheshire’s Dominic Severino has been a solid two-way player throughout his career and he has brought both his pitching and hitting to the NECBL. Severino is one of three local players in the league and 19 playing in summer collegiate leagues throughout the northeast.