The 2021 Best of Rhode Island Baseball Fan Poll Results, Recap, And Recognition

This past week I posted a series of questions asking fans to vote on various Best of Rhode Island Baseball categories. The questions ranged from “Best Pitcher” to “Who Throws the best BP” to “Where is the best place to see a ball game” – 21 Rhode Island baseball related questions to finish 2021 on a positive and fun landing spot. I also asked local businesses (small, medium, and large) if they would like to donate a prize or gift card to the winners. And the response was tremendous. 4 straight days of responses, emails, direct messages, text messages later I have the results, the recap, and some recognition by Rhode Island baseball fans on who they think is the best of Rhode Island baseball players, coaches, fan bases, and fields.

A quick note about the results. The majority of responses focused on roughly 8 of the 21 questions. I asked fans to vote for the questions that they felt comfortable answering. Some answered all 21, but most just answered 1 or 2 or 5 poll questions. And many combined answers for 2 or 3 questions into one answer. For example, fans would combine best hitter, best catcher, and best fielder into one best player. Similarly, fans would vote for one coach to be best BP, who they would switch teams for, most motivational, etc. So, I came up with 8 results to showcase the majority of the fan poll responses and here are the results for those 8 poll questions:

  • The Best Player/Hitter heading into 2022 – The highest percentage of fan votes and winner is Brandyn Durand. Also receiving a ton of votes were: Cam Harthan, John Mass, Nick Spaner, and Carlos Merejo.
  • The Best Pitcher heading into 2022 – The fan vote was actually split 50/50 between Jake Foster Tommy Turner. Both Foster and Turner had a ton of support and praise from coaches, family members, and peers who voted. Other receiving votes were: Elijah Barber, Braeden Perry, Jeremy Urena, and Ben Brutti.
  • The Best Catcher heading into 2022 – This category produced the most amount of buzz and voting all week. In the end, the fan vote goes to Nick Spaner. Others receiving votes were: Brandyn Durand, Sean Gallagher, Carlos Merejo, Jake Mather, and Jared Vadeboncoeur.
  • If you could get one autograph from one player, coach, league president associated with Rhode Island Baseball, who would it be and why?– I was really eager to read the fans’ votes on this category and honestly was not surprised by the final result. The autograph most coveted by fans in the poll is Ryan Westmoreland. Others receiving requests for autographs include: Rocco Baldelli, Harrison Barlow, Alex Clemmey, and Giovanni Canales
  • Who throws the best batting practice? This was a really fun one to read all the fan’s votes on. Without question, this was also the one that had the most explanations attached to their vote. In the end, the winner is John Mello. Also receiving votes and recognition were: Jay Grenier, Arnie Sarazen, Ron Westmoreland, Matt McGuire, and Matt Murphy.
  • Which coach would you gladly switch teams for? After the “best catcher” category, this question got the most responses in the entire poll. I know a lot of the coaches in the responses and I would wholeheartedly agree that they are all very much worthy of your respect! After all the votes were counted, the fan vote winner is RI Devils Coach Chris Genao. Also receiving votes and praise were: Bob Downey, Jason Sanford, Kevin Gormely, David Roy, Gerry Marzilli, Mike Giard, Bobby Rodericks, Matt McGuire, and Ed Holloway.
  • Best Field to Watch a Game – This was probably the most lopsided fan vote in the entire poll. Almost everyone that place a vote for this question voted for Cardines Field, Newport. Other fields receiving votes were: Lischio Field, Davis Park, Cranston Stadium, and Old Mountain Field.
  • Best Snack Shack in the State: This was the comeback kid story of the fan poll. Early in the week, Cardines had the big time lead, but then an up and coming star emerged out of nowhere to overtake the early favorite. This snack shack had a fan base that wouldn’t quit and in the end, helped propel the winner – Warwick North Little League, aka Westside, aka The Pit. Others receiving votes include: Cardines, Woonsocket Little League, Darlington/Slater Park.

Before I share some of the fan’s recognition and comments (no names, just the responses), I want to recognize the businesses who have agreed to donate to the winners of my Rhode Island Baseball 2021 Best Ofs. Prizes will be awarded in January, as I will need some time to collect the gifts, then distribute them to the winners. Here are the generous businesses I mentioned and please click on the highlighted links to learn more about these businesses:

And now to some comments from fans about why they voted for a particular player, a favorite coach, a great place to watch a game, and some other random responses that caught my attention:

  • “Gerry Marzilli. Top notch coach with accolades. Facilitator of the Brothers Oven Baseball Club since 2001. Arguably one of the best mens amateur teams, now residing in the Sunset League. The man is a die hard gamer.”
  • “#10 is a slam dunk, Jay Grenier former CCRI, RIC, Wheaton, Bryant, Chatham A’s coach, THE Best BP Ever!”
  • “Giovanni Canales… that kids gonna be special and I’m sure that ball will be worth a lot when it’s all said and done for his career”
  • “John Cawley, Gaudet Middle School, is a very inspiring coach at any level”
  • “Mike Giard, Owner and Coach the RI Rays. RI Rays are one of the longest and best programs in RI. As a coach for 10 years I have seen some of the best talent in RI come thru this organization.”
  • “Players to watch: Evan LeVasseur, Jake Mello, John Mass, Mac Dunn, Matt Williams, Nick Spaner”
  • “I’m partial to real grass fields, Conaty Park at Bryant is my favorite. Character with students and beverages in left field woods when the weather breaks! Great dugouts and bullpens. Plenty of seating with great sight lines.”
  • “CJ Tsoumakos; LaSalle, RIC, NECBL (North Adams, New Bedford), Bros Baseball, George Donnelly Sunset League; 7 time GDSL Pitcher of The Year 2014, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. Out with a back injury in 2016. A true Left handed Master of the Craft! A Bulldog, who never gives in! Killer change up, sneaky fast, spots up all of his pitches, wears out the corners! Makes great veteran hitters look silly, baffles stud college hitters with his off speed array. A former high school pitching coach at NK, a pitching instructor at Moe Joes Academy and an Executive for the PBruins! Truly a “Man for All Seasons!”
  • “Joe Church off St Joes Commit Shea Caton to put Smithfield in the ABL playoffs (400 ft out of pierce field),” (referring to the most gigantic hit or home run question in the fan poll)
  • “Garrick Godin MSC 2023- Biggest power hitter in RI”
  • “Best pitcher- Jake Foster, Consistency in improving on velo and accuracy”
  • “The best bp thrower in all of RI baseball would have to be Coach McGuire the varsity baseball coach at Portsmouth High School. He’s a lefty thrower who would throw us as a team around 10 buckets combined each practice and throw less than maybe 10 balls in 500 throws. To me this is a no doubter easiest decision on this list. You can ask any of his former/current players they will all say the same thing. A while ago now I can’t give you a definite date but he also used to throw batting practice for the Pawtucket Paw Sox and did it for the free meal he would get out of it!”
  • “I think for an autograph I would have to say Ryan Westmoreland coach of the Ocean State Makos, due to the adversity he has overcome.”
  • “Best AAU coach hands down, 14U Coach Mike Marot”
  • “Coach Jeff LaRose, MoJo Sports, throws the best batting practice and is still in great shape at 58 years old and could still pitch at a high level of baseball himself.”
  • “Cameron Harthan from Ocean State Makos and Cumberland High School for best player, best hitter, best fielder!”
  • “Best two way player: John Maas from Portsmouth.”
  • “Apponaug Babe Ruth League for youth fields and League”
  • “Sean Gallagher best catcher Pilgrim high school”
  • “Andreozzi Tournament for little guys & Little League Championship Tournaments at Slater Park.”
  • “Ed Holloway – class act and wealth of knowledge”
  • “Nick Spaner from the Ocean State Makos/Portsmouth HS is the best catcher”
  • “Alex Clemmey (he has big league talent)”

It was just so much fun reading the responses and recognition and tallying up the votes for this end of the year Rhode Island Baseball Poll. The fans voted via email, on social media, and I have to say I am just so eager to learn more about these incredible Rhode Island Baseball players, coaches, leagues, and fields. Thank you to the sponsors for donating so generously, I will be in contact with you to collect the prizes. And winners, I will be in contact with you to get those prizes over to you sometime in early 2022!

For now, that is a wrap on my Rhode Island Baseball Experiences for 2021. Thank you to everyone who participated in my 2021 Best of Rhode Island Baseball Fan Poll. And to all the Rhode Island Baseball Community – Happy New Year. Be happy, be healthy, be safe, and be good to others!!!

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