Sports columnist Marc Maturo’s official column
Kivlehan continuing pro career in Iowa
Pat Kivlehan of West Nyack is following in the footsteps of some celebrated pro athletes of yore
Gene Conley played for two NBA teams and for 11 seasons with three teams in Major League Baseball; the late Dave DeBusschere also played in the NBA and in the big leagues; and, more recently, Bo Jackson was a two-sport pro athlete, playing in the NFL and in MLB and becoming the only pro athlete to become an all-star in two sports.
Kivlehan is accomplishing similar feat, if not at the same level, going from an award-winning big-time football player at Rutgers University to a professional infielder in baseball.
Kivlehan made the transition to baseball as a senior in college, and made the transition so well that he was named the Big East Player of the Year after becoming the first player to win the Triple Crown.
The Seattle Mariners drafted Kivlehan in the fourth round in the 2012. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound third baseman had such a fine season at Everett, Wash., in the Northwest League that he was named the rookie league’s Most Valuable Player. That season Kivlehan batted .301 with 12 homers and 52 RBI, and also stole 14 bases in 15 attempts.
The Mariners’ prospect – he is ranked in the Top 20 in their minor-league system – is now playing with the Clinton, Iowa, LumberKings in the Class A Midwest League.
Through 56 games, the 23-year-old Kivlehan is batting .273 with three homers and 30 RBI, third-best on the LumberKings. He also has five stolen bases in seven attempts.
The LumberKings are fifth in the Western Division of the Midwest League, flirting with a .500 mark at 31-33.
Clarkstown Clippers: new blood, new hope
Player/coach John Ruffolo, who at 37 quickly calls himself “one of the old guys,” sounds very optimistic when discussing the Clarkstown Clippers, a club that previously competed under a different banner in the Westchester Rockland Wood Bat League (WRWBL).
Now competing in the equally competitive New Jersey Amateur Baseball League (NJABL), the Clippers are looking good in the early going, with their toughest opposition having been the weather.
“We’re 3-2 and could easily be 4-1,” Ruffolo said, prior to a mid-week contest at the Bergen Pirates and a 5 p.m. game on June 16 against the Pearl River Salty Dogs at Rockland Community College.
“We’ve had some bad seasons, but it’s looking better right now. We made some upgrades, and it’s starting to show,” the Yonkers resident noted.
Two of the new faces or arms, who have yet to be battle tested due to the weather, are “The Twin Towers,” – namely tall and lanky pitchers Robert Marakovits and Peter Kennely.
“They’re both about 6-3 and I hear they throw hard, but they haven’t had any work yet,” said Ruffolo. The coach has other reliable pitchers in former RCC standout Alex Grossman, and veteran returnees Bobby Holmsen of Pearl River and Chris Robinson of New City, a teacher in Clarkstown who has coached several of the team’s younger players. Holmsen, who throws right-handed and bats left-handed, also plays third base.
The ace of the staff, at this point in time, is another veteran and the team captain, Craig Robinson of Stony Point. Craig — no relation to Chris – is a North Rockland HS and SUNY Cortlandt graduate who draws high praise from Ruffolo.
“He’s our ace,” the coach states. “He was a lights-out beast in the Westchester Rockland Wood Bat League, and then the NJABL. He’s known around the league, and had a tryout with the (Rockland) Boulders.”
The Clippers feature a formidable one-two punch in leadoff hitter Carl Holmsen, a shortstop who hit .377 a year ago and is Bobby’s younger brother, and center fielder/assistant coach Chris Berretta, who pitched and played the outfield at Rockland CC. He bats second in the lineup.
“Chris is fast, like Carl, and is a little older player. He pitched with the New City Outlaws, and at one point had a great arm,” Ruffolo relates. “He gave up pitching and moved back to center field. He covers a lot of ground.”
Ruffolo, who also played football but whose possible college career at the University of Maryland was ruined by an assortment of injuries, now platoons at first base with “the father of all-time veterans,” 42-year-old wonder Nephty Cruz of the Bronx.
Cruz, a switch-hitter who plays on several teams, already has smashed two homers for the Clippers – one from the left side and one from the right.
“He’s unbelievable, don’t let the age fool you,” said Ruffolo, with obvious delight. “He’s our No. 4 hitter, our power hitter. He’s really been like a mentor to me over the years … the nicest guy in the world.”
(Ed note: we expect to highlight the Pearl River Salty Dogs next week, completing our look at the Rockland County-dominated North Division.)
Dates to watch: June 28-30, annual Crotty/Konkowski Memorial tournament. This event, in its seventh year, will be held at Suffern HS and Suffern Recreation Park to benefit local foundations honoring two Suffern athletes who lost their lives tragically. For more information on the NJAB L, including team schedules, access: http://www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?url=njbaseball
METS, METS AND MORE METS: David Ferry, a 1980 graduate of Nanuet, is a devout and longtime fan of the beloved News York Mets. So much so that he toiled five years putting together a 700-page, table-top hardcover labor of love, published by Triumph Books: “Total Mets: The Definitive Encylopedia of the New York Mets First Half-Century.” Ed Kranepool, who was a teen-ager when he joined the Mets’ big-league club in a September call-up in 1962, provides the forward to a book that was proposed as nearly 2,000 pages, providing a bio on EVERY player in Mets history and a synopsis of EVERY game in Mets history. Needless to say, editors at Triumph Books proposed something a tad less ambitious. Ferry, who recently held an informal question-and-answer, meet-the-author session at the Nanuet Public Library, will be back in the area at Bookends in Ridgewood, N.J., on Thursday night, June 13, at 7 p.m. He’ll be joined by Mets announcer Howie Rose, who has combined with prolific author Phil Pepe to produce “Put It In The Book”; and by former New York Times sports columnist Ira Berkow, who will be signing copies of his tome , “Summers at Shea.”
THIS & THAT
KEVIN McGARVEY Jr. won the Rotary Club of Pearl River’s 14th Soap Box Derby, posting best downhill times in double elimination in a field of 65 competitors. According to published reports, Rotary does not affiliate the local event with the national Soap Box Derby because official derby rules eliminate older cars from taking part.
THE UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION (USTA), based in White Plains, has an opening for a digital analyst. Position will manage strategic planning for Community Tennis marketing and digital properties across all platforms, including, USTA.com, the USTA.com network of regional sites, CTA’s, YouthTennis.com, TAUT.com, social media, e-mail and mobile. Apply at https://home2.eease.adp.com/recruit2/?id=7001462&t=1
REGISTRATION IS OPEN for Rockland FC, a countywide youth soccer organization for boys and girls U8 through U16. Teams compete in the Westchester Youth Soccer League, reported to be the second-largest in the state. Rockland FC is a local club for local players, and the 2013-14 season includes fall, winter and spring schedules. For more information access www.rocklandfc.com, or call 845-821-7311.
THE RECREATION AND PARKS department in the Town of Clarkstown provides a bevy of youth and adult leagues. For information access http://www.town.clarkstown.ny.us/html/recreation_parks_sports.html.
THE ORANGETOWN PARKS & RECREATION department will again be conducting a series of summer concerts, held on Friday evenings and free to the public. The five scheduled concerts, beginning on July 12 at 7:45 p.m., are held at Veterans Memorial Park in Orangeburg. In the event of inclement weather, the concerts are moved to the air-conditioned Pearl River HS auditorium. For concert information, or other summer programs, contact the recreation office at 845-359-6503, or access http://www.orangetown.com.