As the 2013 major league baseball season gets underway, Connecticut is well represented in the major leagues, as it has been through the years. The Nutmeg State has seen just under 200 natives called up to the big leagues since baseball record-keeping began. This year, seven players from Connecticut are expected to be on major league rosters, led by Matt Harvey of Groton and Fitch High School, who broke into the big leagues last July with the New York Mets at age 23, and will be in the starting rotation in 2013. Among the others listed as active major leaguers by the Baseball Almanac:
- Craig Breslow, who attended Trumbull High School and Yale University, was 25 years old when he broke into the big leagues on July 23, 2005, with the San Diego Padres. Now a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, he’ll start the season with an extended spring training after a shoulder injury.
- Rajai Davis of Norwich was 25 years old when he broke into the big leagues on August 14, 2006, with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s now the regular left fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays and hit .257 with 46 stolen basis last year.
- John McDonald of East Lyme was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues on July 4, 1999, with the Cleveland Indians. The veteran infielder was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Pirates a week before Opening Day 2013.
- A.J. Pollock of Hebron was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 18, 2012, with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks center fielder his .247 as a rookie last year.
- Chris Denorfia of Bristol was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues on September 7, 2005, with the Cincinnati Reds. Now the starting right fielder for the San Diego Padres, he hit .293 a year ago.
- Jared Hughes of Stamford was 26 years old when he broke into the big leagues on September 7, 2011, with the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Pirates last year, the right-handed pitcher was 2-2.
Looking to return to the major leagues:
- Andrew Carignan, who attended Norwich Free Academy, was 25 years old when he broke into the big leagues on September 2, 2011, with the Oakland Athletics. The pitcher, called up to the A’s in 2011 and 2012, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012.
- Jesse Carlson, who attended Berlin High School, was 27 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 10, 2008, with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the team’s Rookie of the Year at the major league level, and after injuries was signed by the Red Sox, only to be released last year.
There may be more on the way. Two years ago, UConn baseball stand-outs George Springer of New Britain and Matt Barnes of Bethel were selected in the first round of the MLB draft by the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox, respectively and are working their way up through the minors.
Connecticut’s Jackie Robinson
Although not a Connecticut native, legendary ballplayer Jackie Robinson lived in Stamford for nearly 20 years, having moved to the community while a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954. Robinson, known world-wide for breaking the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947, died of a heart attack in 1972, at age 53.
Stamford has a public park named in his honor, recalling that Robinson represented tolerance, educational opportunity, and the confidence that inspires personal achievement and success. A life-size bronze statue of Jackie Robinson with an engraved base bearing the words “COURAGE,” “CONFIDENCE,” AND “PERSEVERANCE” stands in the park located on West Main Street, the gateway to downtown Stamford.
Robinson, a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, will be the subject of a new major motion picture, “42,” which premieres on April 12 in theaters around the country. In 1997, Major League Baseball "universally" retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. Initiated for the first time on April 15, 2004, Major League Baseball has adopted a new annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day," in which all players on all teams wear #42.
All Star Season?
Does Opening Day set the tone for an entire season? Not so much. The record for most consecutive Opening Day wins by a team is nine, shared by the St. Louis Browns, Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets, according to Baseball Almanac. Of particular note this year, the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is scheduled to be played on July 16, 2013, at Citi Field, the relatively new home of the Mets.