By Jim Fenton
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
There were various parts of the country represented on the Oneonta Outlaws' roster during the New York Collegiate Baseball League season this summer.
Players from California, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Mississippi were among those spending nearly two months in the small central New York city located 25 miles south of Cooperstown.
Also represented on the roster of the team that won the NYCBL championship earlier this month were Brockton, East Bridgewater and Bridgewater.
Stonehill College pitcher Bryan Galligan of Brockton and Bentley University catcher Greg Baggett of East Bridgewater played prominent roles for the Outlaws, who were managed by Massasoit Community College assistant coach Greg Zackrison of Bridgewater.
The three of them, who live just several miles apart from each other in southeastern Massachusetts, formed a bond in their time together more than 250 miles from home.
"It was great, especially when we have a lot of friends in common,'' said Zackrison, whose team went 5-0 in the playoffs. "There were kids from all over the country on the team, but we Boston-ed it up. They made fun of our accents, and we had our own little Boston gang that was pretty cool.
"It kind of added a nice little camaraderie in the locker room that was pretty neat.''
Galligan and Baggett, rivals in the Northeast-10 Conference, became friends during the NYCBL season while Zackrison renewed acquaintances with two players who he first saw when they attended hitting clinics at Massasoit as youngsters.
"It was pretty cool being together like that,'' said Baggett, who will be a senior at Bentley. "We got along real well, being from the same area. We were four or five hours from home, and all the other kids were from California or Texas or Louisiana and it was cool how the three of us related to one another and fit right in together.''
Senior righthander Bryan Galligan honed his skills this summer with the Oneonta Outlaws, going 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA and helping the team capture the NYCBL title.
Galligan and Baggett made the most of their opportunity to play in a collegiate summer league in helping the Outlaws win the title with a two-game sweep of the Webster Yankees.
After going 8-2 the past two seasons at Stonehill, Galligan was 4-1 with a 1.97 earned run average in eight games, including seven starts, for the Outlaws.
Galligan, who will be a senior at Stonehill, was also named the most valuable pitcher of the championship series after defeating Webster, 5-1, in the opener. He went the distance, striking out 10 and allowing only four hits, including a pair of bunts, to a team that had a .295 batting average.
"It helped me a lot,'' said Galligan of his experience in the NYCBL. "I got a lot of innings after coming off a season where I threw (almost) 70 at Stonehill. The key is to just keep throwing during the summer.
"It was awesome. It was fun. There was good weather. We played baseball every day. It was just so much fun. The amount of innings I got really helped to develop my slider.''
Baggett began the summer playing for the Braintree White Sox in the Cranberry League, but when an injury left Oneonta shorthanded behind the plate, he received a call from Zackrison.
Despite getting a late start, Baggett was the starting catcher for the East Division in the NYCBL All-Star Game and hit .330 in 29 games, leading the league with 13 doubles to go with a triple, two home runs and 17 RBI.
Baggett, who had eight home runs and 28 RBI for Bentley last spring, had 11 multiple-hit games for the Outlaws with three three-hit games.
"I was pretty excited to go up there,'' said Baggett. "It was a good opportunity to go up there and play in a real competitive league. I was pretty psyched about it. To make the all-star team was real exciting.
"I went up there with not too many expectations and I ended up fitting right in. I put together some good games, some good at-bats and made the all-star game. I really didn't expect too much, and that happened.''
Galligan and Baggett, from rivals Stonehill and Bentley, became battery mates and friends during the season.
"I knew that he played at Bentley, but I didn't know him,'' said Galligan, whose Outlaws were 29-15 in the regular season. "The two of us ended up being really good friends. At first, it was (strange), and then me and him were on the same page. I like when he caught.''
Said Baggett: "It was actually (strange at first), but we clicked pretty well. I didn't really know who he was. I knew he was a Stonehill guy. It'll be interesting next year seeing him (in NE-10 games).''
Zackrison, who played at Massasoit in the mid-1990s and has been Coach Tom Frizzell's assistant for nearly a decade, was an assistant for the Harwich Mariners when they won the Cape Cod Baseball League title in 2008.
He became the manager of the Saratoga Phillies of the NYCBL in 2009, and stayed in the position when the franchise moved to Oneonta in 2010.
"It's probably like coaching a Div. 1 team,'' said Zackrison, who had players from the University of Virginia, the University of Mississippi, Fresno State, Maryland, Baylor and Wofford. "We have a $2 million locker room, a professional field. It's like dying and going to baseball heaven.
"You travel on a bus two hours to a game, play a game, get food after the game, hop on the bus and get to do it all over the next day. The kids are experiencing minor league baseball.
"To win a championship was great. It was pretty good, considering we only had nine position players in the playoffs because of injuries and players going home early for school. We went through the playoffs with nine payers and seven pitchers. To come through and win was pretty special. It showed how committed and tough they were to see it through.''
In addition to winning the title, the Outlaws set the league record by drawing 37,487 fans, averaging 1,704 at their 22 home games.
"It was awesome,'' said Galligan. "We had the best fan support of anywhere we went. The whole community really took us in and they do a good job of getting people to the game and getting everyone into it. I was real happy to be part of the team.''
Said Zackrison: "With two outs in the ninth in the last game, we had our closer in and the whole place was on their feet, standing and clapping. It was really special. After we won, I'd say there were 2,000 people on the field within five minutes of the last out. It was a community atmosphere and it meant something to the town."