Bill Chaffman had a special reason for wanting to win this year's Carroll County Men's Softball League's Tuesday Night Division championship.
The 56-year-old Westminster resident, who managed and sometimes played for his ACC Masonry slow-pitch softball team, planned to retire from softball when this season was over. He wanted to spend more time with his family.
He felt that winning the title would be a good way to go out.
When the tournament ended around midnight on July 9, he let his players know he was ending his 38 years in the game and terminating a spectacular career that landed him a niche in the Maryland Slow-Pitch Softball Hall of Fame back in 2017. Reactions to his announcement varied, although most players wanted him to stay.
But one thing was certain. He had gone out on top.
ACC went 14-0 to take first in the regular season in the Tuesday night loop which is the more competitive of the Men’s League’s two weeknight divisions. Then, his team easily swept three postseason tournament games, winning by an aggregate score of 58-14 and hitting 23 home runs.
As one might guess, this is no ordinary softball team. Chaffman took top players, mostly from Carroll County but also from elsewhere, in assembling his juggernaut. A lot of them came form Team Grizzly, one of the stronger squads in the Mount Airy Men’s Softball League. One player even commuted in from Hagerstown.
“We have a great team because of the talent around me. We have a great group of young players,” Chaffman said.
Chaffman said he has known the players for years even though they all play on other teams. This particular group, the average age of which is 29, plays together only on Tuesday nights. But they had made their mark in the Men’s League, and Chaffman hoped they would do it one more time.
"We’ve won the league for the past three or four years, and we have a good team.Our goal was to win it again, he said.
They had won the regular season by finishing first in the standings. Now, it had to go out and take the postseason tournament. No problem.
ACC Masonry blanked the Sandlot Hustlers 16-0 in the opening game. The winners decided things early with six runs in the first inning and seven more in the third. The team hit six home runs in the game.
Drew Derr and Richie Diggs were each 3-for-3 with Diggs adding two home runs. Nick Hetrick and Andy Thompson were each 2-for-3, with Hetrick also hitting a homer. Tyler Brown went 3-for-4 with two doubles.
ACC hit 10 home runs in game two and routed Bloom’s Trucking 24-6.
Brad Beck was 4-for-4 with a home run for the winners; Josh Yacovissi and Pat Smith each were 3-for-4. Brian Cugle was 3-for-3. Pitcher Rob Schroeder, one of the oldest players on the team, was 2-for-3 as was Rick Warner.
Bloom’s then came through the losers’ bracket to face ACC again in the championship game. But it came out on the short end of an 18-6 score as ACC Masonry hit seven more home runs.
Evan Picciotto led the hit parade with a 4-for-4 game. Jay Braitsch and Keith Diggs were each 3-for-3, with Diggs hitting two homers and a double. Paul Macciocca went 3-for-4.
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When it was all over, Chaffman was happy to win the championship.
“It’s really nice watching these guys play,” he said.
But that post-game announcement was bittersweet.
“I told them (of retiring) when the tournament was over. They told me not to hang it up, but it is what it is,” he said. “It was tough. I played at the (Carroll County) Sports Complex for a lot of years. And I have a lot of memories from there.”
He believes the team will remain in the Men’s League next year under a new manager.
But whatever happens with the team, Chaffman says it will be very hard to leave softball completely. So, there is a good chance that people will see him hanging around the complex next spring and summer watching games from time to time.
“I won’t cut myself totally off,” he said.