TORRINGTON – The Torrington American Legion baseball team will have some familiar faces leading the way this summer.
Former Tigers Jackson Jones and Sam Firminhac will take over the reins from Rob Mortimore.
Jones concluded his final year as a player last season. Firminhac was too old to play a year ago but was a freshman for Concordia (Nebraska) University, a team who won its league championship and qualified for the NAIA World Series a year ago.
Both individuals, who have been in the program a long time, are excited about the opportunity to carry on the winning ways in a different capacity, and it was an opportunity neither one could pass up.
The expectations among the pair remains high for the program given the recent years of success.
“When I heard Rob had resigned, it was kind of sad, because he’s done a lot for the program, and kind of built us back up into a state contender every year,” Firminhac said. “It would be the shame in my eyes to see it kind of fall back down. If there wasn’t a coach that really had that experience that me and Jackson has with him.”
“I just had so many great experiences playing, and I want to be able to give that back to all these guys that are younger,” Jones added. “I think Sam and I have a lot to offer.”
The duo played a large role in the resurgence of the Tiger program over the past several seasons – from an 0-2 trip to state in the summer of 2018 to winning games and placing third on two occasions.
In addition to the playing experience, both Jones and Firminhac bring a wealth of knowledge instilled by many coaches over the years.
“I’ve gotten to see lots of different ways that people think coaching is best. I’ve just been gathering that information as I’ve gone along,” Firminhac said. “The coaches at Concordia, I think there’s some of the best at that level in the country. They’re just some great guys, and they just know a bunch. I got to learn a bunch with Rob too. Just going to that next level and having, I mean, six coaches on staff, you just get so many more perspectives to. It’s just a bunch of knowledge in one place, and I feel like just being able to take that in is a privilege and trying to bring it to Torrington baseball is my goal.”
Jones echoed the sentiment.
“They’ve all had different coaching styles, different philosophies,” Jones said. “I think we’re going to be able to combine what we learned over those last eight years and put together what we think is the right way to teach the game, in thinking about the game, and not just hitting and stuff, but also just thinking baseball all the time, when you’re in the game situations, different situations and things like that.”
Despite the age and lack of coaching experience, they feel like it will be beneficial to the program.
“I think we’re going to be very relatable to the guys, because you know all those players pretty well,” Jones said. “I think that’s going to be a strength too. We already have relationships with these guys that are pretty strong. We’ve played with them, and not just baseball but other sports too.
Jones added the philosophy of the team won’t change this summer.
“[Rob] always told us, when you see Torrington on your schedule you know these guys are going to play hard, they’re going to be skilled, they’re going to be disciplined, they’re going to come play as hard as they can, they’re going to run on the field, they’re just going to hit the ball and think baseball and be smart about the game,” Jones said.
Both Jones and Firminhac are looking forward to seeing what this summer holds when practices begin on April 25 and games begin a month later.
“It’s going to be fun. Me and Jonesy, we’ve talked about some coaching stuff, and when the opportunity came up, we’re like, well, we can’t pass this up. We’d be regretting it if we did,” Firminhac said. “So, we put in our application and we’re excited to get to work together. We think we’re gonna bring a youthfulness to the program that will hopefully get the players excited and ready to win some ballgames.”
Manager search for 'C' teams
The younger Tiger ‘C’ teams (ages 13-15) are still looking for a pair of managers this summer. There will be two teams with the increase registrations for the summer season. Interested persons can send a letter of interest to Abe Correa at [email protected]
The Tigers will be holding winter workouts from noon to 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Goshen County School District Central Administration gym. The workouts will include hitting, fielding and pitching and will be led by Rob Mortimore.