Pittsfield native Tom Grieve, a first-round draft pick who built a long-term career in major league baseball, heads the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017.
Announcement of the new class came from Hall of Fame chairman Clark Eckhoff, owner/president of the Valley Blue Sox of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
Grieve also will serve as keynote speaker at the induction banquet, set for Jan. 26 at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield.
After leading Pittsfield High to the state title in 1966 as an outfielder/pitcher, Grieve went to the Washington Senators as the No. 6 pick in the nation. By the time he reached the big leagues in 1970, the Senators franchise had been relocated as the Texas Rangers.
He played nine years in the majors as an outfielder, including seven with the Rangers. In 1976, he had his best year – 149 games, .301 average with 20 homers and 81 RBI.
In 1984, at the age of 36, he became general manager of the Rangers, a post he held for 10 years. In 1995, he joined the Texas club’s broadcasting team as a color analyst, and has served that role ever since. The Rangers enshrined him in their Hall of Fame in 2010.
Joining Grieve as electees:
– Billy Jo Robidoux of Ware, who played big league ball with the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. He’s now active as an umpire of local high school and college baseball.
– Ed Hurley of Holyoke, who umpired in the American League from 1947 to 1965. He worked 2,826 games, four World Series and three All-Star games. After serving as plate umpire in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, Hurley was forced to end his career under an MLB rule which made umpires retire at the age of 55. He fought that ruling, to no avail. Hurley was known throughout baseball as an umpire who stood his ground (he imposed 93 ejections in his career, most of them after confrontations with managers.)
– Dick Bergquist, an Orange native who served as head baseball coach at the University of Massachusetts from 1967 through 1987. His teams won 392 games, eight conference championships and made it to the College World Series in 1969.
– Tom Suchanek of Greenfield, who has coached baseball at Greenfield High School for 45 years. He pitched for the University of Vermont, and in the Houston Astros organization. In 2014, he earned the New England High School Coach of the Year Award.
– Dan Welch, a Westfield resident being inducted in recognition of his 20 years of voluntary service to the community. Under his leadership, Westfield’s reputation as “a good baseball town” was enhanced as it hosted Babe Ruth League regional tournaments, and then the Babe Ruth League World Series last summer. Welch, a past winner of the Jack Lanzillo Umpiring Award, also serves as umpire-in-chief of the Western Mass. Fall High School Baseball League.
– Charles “Bud” Hagan, being recognized for his 34-year career at Westfield State University as coach and administrator. Hagan played sports at Westfield High and Arnold College before entering the Navy for World War II service. After the war, Hagan played three seasons of minor league baseball in the Brooklyn Dodgers system before turning to a coaching career. At Westfield State, he became its first full-time director of athletics. The university’s baseball field bears his name.
– Springfield Tech’s three state champions of 1968-69-70. The 1969 team went 20-0 as the bulwark of a WMass record 41-game winning streak which began late in the 1968 season and carried well into 1970. Over those three championship seasons, Tech teams went 55-5. John Bedard, a star as both pitcher and catcher, played on all three teams, along with outfielder Charlie Manley and utilityman Howie Reed. In June of l970, Bedard became the first Springfield player to be drafted in the first round, taken 13th by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Howie Burns, Tech’s coach of that era, was inducted into the WMass Baseball Hall of Fame last year.
The WM Hall’s dinner and induction ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling The Valley Blue Sox at 413-533-1100 or visiting
Garry Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org