The Bristol Fradette Agency of the Connecticut Men’s Senior Baseball League (CMSBL)
The Men’s Senior Baseball League (MSBL) is the premier amateur baseball was founded in 1988. It is the fastest-growing adult baseball organization in the country. The league has 325 local affiliates, 3,200 teams and 45,000 members who play organized amateur baseball in local leagues, 30 regional tournaments and six national tournaments. The MSBL is poised to reach 50,000 members soon. Many former MLB minor and major league players are member of teams through the USA.
Just as the Men’s Senior League was beginning to take hold on a national level in September of 1988, Dave Raponey received a call from Jim Tevegia of Meriden CT asking if Bristol would be interested in playing a game against a team from Meriden the following weekend? He asked Raponey to get back to him within a few days if there were any interests. Raponey made just nine calls and was able to field a team that consisted of his former teammates that had several years of success in the highly acclaimed Connecticut Collegiate Summer Baseball League capturing two State CCSBL League Championships and the Hartford Twi-light League winning three outright league championships. As the story goes, Raponey and his teammates played Meriden the following weekend and the success that this group had in previous leagues continued as they beat Meriden 6 to 1 in what is known at the start of the Connecticut Mens Senior Baseball League (CMSBL).
The CMSBL would kick off a full season during the summer of 1989 and the Bristol team would be sponsored by Greg Fradette, a local businessman and sport enthusiast and managed by player-coach Jim Ziogas. There were six teams in the Northern Division of the league while the Southern Division had eight teams. Bristol Fradette Agency would go on to win the Northern Division with a 14-1 mark and would play the West Haven Mariners of the Southern Division for the State Championship on October 22 on a neutral site. Bristol would win the CMSBL inaugural State Championship with an 8-2 win over West Haven (see article). For the year Spec Monico lead the team in hits with 29 while Mike Giovinazzo had 26 hits to go with a team high 23 RBI’s. Bart Beardsley finished with a 13-0 record as the team put together a 13-game winning streak. Little did the team realize that after their one loss to Branford early that season that they would then go on to win three consecutive CMSBL State Championships while establishing a 58 game winning streak that ended during the league’s fourth season. The Bristol Press provided excellent coverage of the season games as well as frequent feature articles about the team and individual successes. During that first season, both Bristol Press Sport’s Legend Jack Lautier wrote about the Fradette Agency (see article) and The Hartford Courant’s Dom Amore (see article) wrote of the team’s success.
The Fradette Agency added former Boston Red Sox minor players Gene Gentile and Al Faust for their second season as the team finished with another State Championship. Bristol would go on to beat Branford by sweeping a 2 out of 3 series for the CMSBL State Championship as they finished the season with a 29-0 record (see article). Mark and John Ziogas, Mike Giovinanzzo, and John Chapulis had multi-hit games to lead the offense. Al Faust held the Branford entry to one run in the 9-1 opening game win while Bart Beardsley completed the Championship run with a three-hit performance in the clincher. This would now give the Bristol entry 42 straight wins over the 2-year period. Once again, The Bristol Press showcased the team’s success with articles about the weekly games and the team plight to their 2nd straight championship. Joe Bilodeau, Sports Editor for The Bristol Press (see article) did a feature on Gentile and Faust regarding playing minor league ball and now having the opportunity to play with the local team.
The Agency would begin year three with the goal of a three-peat of the CSMBL State Championship in addition to adding to their 42 straight winning streaks. Bristol managed to extend the streak to 58 straight games as they were beaten in the first game of a double-header by South Windsor. The Agency would rebound for modest 8 game winning streak to close out the season and would eventually win their third straight CSMBL State Championship by defeating Stamford in a best of three series (see article). Al Faust won the Championship game. Joe Bilodeau did a great article of the 58-game winning streak (see article) that included the scores of all the games during the streak as well as highlights during the 2 plus years of not losing a game.
The Fradette Agency’s visions of winning their fourth in a row was spoiled by South Windsor in 1992. Once again in 1993, South Windsor would win the coveted State Championship while in 1994 East Hartford would garner the Crown.
The Fradette Agency were determined to get back on top when they added Bristol Baseball great Dave Cichon and former CSMBL MVP Larry Hill of South Windsor to their talented roster. That moved proved to be what the Fradette Agency needed as they put together State Championships in 1995 and 1996 (see articles).
The Fradette Agency captured the interest of Bill Lee and his former Red Sox teammates as Lee’s Grey Sox invaded Muzzy Field which drew a crowd of nearly five thousand at Muzzy Field. In addition to Lee, Bill Buckner, Ozzie Virgil, George Foster, Dick McAuliffe, Bob Stanley, and Mark “the Bird” Fidrych were on the playing roster. Lee also added former Red Sox legends Luis Tiant, Dalton Jones, and Dick Radatz for the fans to visit. The former major leaguers won that game. Some of the Fradette Agency players would play a CMSBL All-Star function against Lee’s team at Bee-Hive Stadium in New Britain the following year and the Agency players that were former Bristol American Legion graduates would play in a Legion Legends game against Lee’s barnstorming team at Muzzy Field in 1996.
The Men’s Senior Baseball League holds an annual World Series in Arizona beginning in late October. The Fradette Agency has sent numerous players that were joined by other players from the CMSBL to represent Connecticut. The teams as well as the Agency Players have faired very well in that a World Series Crown was captured as well as several runners-up finishes in the numerous divisions that were available to compete.
This highlights the Fradette Agency to five State Championships over an eight-year period however the team with new sponsorship would continue to have success. The first change in sponsorship was in 1997 when the team became the Bristol Phoenix. The team would enjoy championship crowns in 1997 and 1999 and through the first 13 years of the CMSBL, the Bristol entry would win 7 State Crowns. Bristol Phoenix would become the Continental Scrappers and that team was the State Championships on three occasions.
As mentioned in the opening, this group players on the Fradette Agency had played together and collected several state championships from other leagues. Many were multi-sport athletes during their high school careers and played at the collegiate level. Some went on to enjoy successful coaching careers at the collegiate level, high school level, area youth baseball and basketball programs as well as the American Legion program. Some are also represented as inductees in the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame. The current list includes Dave Cichon, Jim Ziogas, Mike Giovinazzo, Bart Beardsley, Dave Raponey and Spec Monico. In addition, Duke Snyder played with the Connecticut entry in the MSBL World Series is an inductee to the BSHOF.