Dari Joy Baseball Contest winners
The 2019 Dari Joy Baseball Picking Contest went to extra frames before a winner could be decided. In a year with a large picking pool of over 100 entries, not one contestant picked the Washington Nationals as the World Series champion. Three contestants accumulated 18 points, and it only took one round of the contests’ infamous tiebreaker to decide the top three places.
In some ways, this year’s event was a family affair. One well-known sportswriter is a big fan of our newspaper. In fact, he has been known to venture miles out of his way on occasion to pick up his weekly copy. Tom Haley lives in Rutland.
Tom Haley has been a sportswriter since the mid-70s. He began in the heart of our reading area with The Eagle Times. He began while he was a teacher at Fall Mountain Regional High School. By 1981, he was a full-time sportswriter. In the mid-80s, he shifted to The Rutland Herald. And the rest is history.
As I’ve said, Haley has always been a fan of the paper. A couple of years ago, he decided to take his luck at entering the baseball contest. I should also add, he is a self-admitted fan of the Dari Joy. “They really have good ice cream,” he told me.
Both years he entered, Haley finished just out of the money – or should we say ice cream? He talked up his enthusiasm for the contest with his family. They drank the Kool-Aid, and this spring both his wife and his oldest son decided to try their luck. They both had beginner’s luck, and Tom has been left by the curb, scratching his head once again, finishing just outside of the top six.
Evan Haley of Bomoseen is the winner of the 2019 Dari Joy Baseball picking contest. His entry tallied those 18 points, as did the submissions of Jeff Miller of Walpole and Tim Clark of Saxtons River. By contest rules, if the points are equal, everything moves to your fifth place picks. Haley picked five of the six cellar dwellers correctly. Miller tabbed three of the bottom six and Clark two. Eighteen points each and the tiebreaker crowned Haley champion, with Miller second and Clark third.
One big reason all three were able to add up to 18 was the fact they all received four points for Houston advancing to the World Series and losing. Haley saw Atlanta as the champion with Miller picking St. Louis and Clark Milwaukee. Do note each of those teams did make baseball’s post-season tournament.
Following the three 18-point winners comes Tom’s wife, Robin, alone in fourth place with 17 points. She would have won the contest if she had a little less confidence in Houston. Unlike all three contestants above her, she selected Houston to win the championship, which left her with two points instead of the four the others gained by appropriately tabbing them as World Series runner-up.
Fifth and sixth place found two entries with 15 points. Again, it only took the fifth place tiebreaker to decide who was ahead of the other. Kyle O’Brien, part of another family who has seen good days in the sun in years past in this contest, won the tiebreaker over Ian Clark of Weathersfield, who was runner-up last year, champion the year before, and has finished with a prize in five of the nine years the contest has been in existence. O’Brien selected three of the fifth place teams correctly and Clark two.
The 2020 Dari Joy Baseball Contest will be open in mid-March so you still have a couple of months to gear up and enter this year’s fun. Wonder who you think will be the next World Series champion?
Mack Walton saluted
Mack Walton was a very good athlete at Green Mountain Union High School. Although he branched athletically outside of soccer, Walton’s name is usually attached to the original brand and spelling of “futbol.” There was soccer at both Green Mountain and Clarkson University before Walton arrived, but in many ways it wasn’t the same. Walton was not solely responsible for either program gaining victories and respect, but he was in the middle of the revival of each program when it went from existing to noticed. The guess from our vantage point is that is no coincidence.
Green Mountain won their first Vermont State Soccer title this fall and Walton was not a part of that team. He is presently a junior at Clarkson. “It wasn’t easy,” Walton said of waiting for results of Chieftain games this fall, especially once the team reached the playoffs.
“It became even more exciting when they beat Vergennes,” he told me, but not being able to actually attend the games was difficult. When Walton is home in the soccer off-season, it is commonplace to find him at a Green Mountain athletic event. However, during the soccer season, it is impossible to consider attending any games at all.
Before Walton, Green Mountain had not won a soccer Division III playoff game this century. He attended Green Mountain during the 2013 through 2016 soccer seasons at the school. His play spoke for itself. He was noticed for his play and his leadership, and the team won a playoff game reaching the quarterfinals in three of his four years at the school. He sounded extremely proud of this year’s title team when he remarked, “Beating Vergennes allowed them to get past a hurdle our teams could never clear.”
It was unfortunate that the former Chieftain star could not see any of the crowning moments of a sensational season for his beloved hometown team. The big victories over Winooski and Mill River were in uncharted waters for the school this century. During that time, Walton was busy taking care of his own business for the 2019 season.
The 5-foot-9 midfielder was leading his Clarkson team to their best record in eons at 11-5-4. He led them in scoring with four goals, three assists, and 11 points. The team advanced to the conference finals before bowing 2-1 to Hobart. Then the honors came in. Most importantly, they showed Walton was the player everyone knew he was, but the honors went beyond the field.
Walton was named an All-American National Scholar in the sport. He was also named to the Liberty League All-League team for the third year in a row, as well as being honored with Division III All-East honors. Walton was the go-to guy for his team as he was credited with 40 shots on goal, compared to the 22 the rest of his team combined for.
The biggest numbers again are about the success of the Clarkson program with the former Chieftain on board. Similar to the streak of Green Mountain not having won a playoff game in this century before Walton was part of the team, Clarkson had only one winning season and that was back at the start of the decade before Walton arrived. They were 8-8-2 his freshman year, upped the count to 10-6-1 his sophomore season, and then this fall made the aforementioned trip to the finals. That has been progress again, with him an important member once again of the cast.
“I chose to go there because I could see the coaches were changing the culture. Both the coaches, Chris Taylor, the head coach, and his assistant, Carter Lincoln, were on the same page. I watched them play and could see how they competed. I had other choices, but I knew this was the best place for me and I never have looked back,” Walton told me.
Walton traveled a lot in high school, getting experience on teams and leagues throughout the east during summers of his school years. He recognizes he paid a price and that he grew because of it.
“It seemed crazy to me at times, but I always thought I could play in college. The support I got from people around me helped give me an opportunity, and I ran with it,” he remarked.