Aug. 14, 2015
WASHINGTON - During July's All-Star Game festivities in Cincinnati, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced the results of its Franchise Four contest, with fans voting for the best four players in the history of all 30 franchises. In the spirit of MLB's unveiling, Bradley Smart, beat writer for the Vermont Mountaineers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), created his own Franchise Four for the Mountaineers. Included in his four best Vermont players is Georgetown alum Michael Gaggioli (C '08), a left-handed pitcher for the Hoyas from 2005-08.
Gaggioli pitched for Vermont during the summers of 2005 and 2007. In 17 starts, he posted a 2.21 ERA with eight wins and 90 strikeouts. He holds the franchise record for all four statistical categories and led the Mountaineers to an NECBL title in 2007.
"It was a nice surprise," Gaggioli said of the honor from his home in Southern California. "It feels really good to be remembered by people in the community and fans of the team, who can look back and say that numerically I stand out, because that community and those people made an impact on me.
"It was fantastic both summers I was up there. There are a lot of different things that go into making a summer ball environment successful and it can go either way. The fans and the community were fantastic. They loved having a baseball team there and really rallied around the team."
What makes Gaggioli's selection to Vermont's Franchise Four even more special is that the Mountaineers have alums currently scattered throughout professional baseball. Included are two alums that Gaggioli was able to call teammates - Washington Nationals pitcher David Carpenter and 2015 All-Star outfielder A.J. Pollock of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"Knowing who else played there certainly makes it all the better. There are a lot of good players who have come through Vermont and a lot of good players who have come through the NECBL in general. It definitely helps that I spent two summers up there, I was able to amass a few more numbers. Not that many guys go up there for multiple summers which, why you wouldn't want to, I don't know."
Gaggioli first put on a Mountaineers uniform in the summer of 2005 following his freshman year on the Hilltop. Georgetown Head Coach Pete Wilk was able to find a spot on Vermont's roster for him in the challenging NECBL.
"Coach Wilk is trying to get you into the best baseball situation that he can. He will ask you `do you want to play summer ball?' and he will encourage you to play summer ball, but when it comes down to it, he is not going to make you play. I wanted to play summer ball and he said `this is the best I can find for you' so you take it a little bit on faith that you are going to a good spot. So Vermont it was."
It is safe to say that Gaggioli enjoyed his first season in Vermont. Playing in front of an average crowd of a couple thousand people, he was selected as the starting pitcher for the North Division in the All-Star Game, although he was unable to pitch because of how his regular season schedule worked out. The Mountaineers advanced to the NECBL championship series before falling in two games, with Gaggioli waiting to start Game 3. However, possibly the best part of his summer was the friendships he formed with his host family.
"The Ayers were fantastic. They really made me feel welcome. Living in somebody's home in a place you've never been is a weird situation, you hear horror stories from guys about living in crappy apartments or basements or something like that, but the Ayers were a great host family. They really made it a lot of fun."
He had so much fun during that 2005 summer that Gaggioli wanted to return the following year after his sophomore season. However, Wilk was able to get him a spot on the Chatham Anglers in the prestigious Cape Cod League. It was an opportunity that Gaggioli could not pass up because of the high level of competition and exposure with major league scouts. Unfortunately, Gaggioli would not play anywhere during the summer of 2006 as he sustained an injury during Georgetown's season and was unable to pitch.
Following a healthy junior year, a slot on Vermont's roster became available and Gaggioli did not think twice, making the phone call himself to tell the Mountaineers and the Ayers that he would be returning.
In his second go-around in 2007, Gaggioli again established himself as one of the best pitchers in the NECBL, being named the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game for a second time. Vermont returned to the championship series and, this time, Gaggioli was not saved until the third game, but instead was given the ball in Game 2 with the Mountaineers needing just one win for the title. Gaggioli came through with a complete game shutout, allowing just one hit and striking out 12 to clinch the championship.
"I had something special going that day. It was probably the best game I've ever thrown. I pitched a lot of solid games up there, especially in that second summer, but I don't know if any one game stands out other than that championship game."
Gaggioli finished his career in a Hoya uniform with eight wins and a paltry 3.86 ERA. His ERA is tied for second in the Georgetown career record books while he also ranks third in strikeouts (202) and sixth in both games started (42) and innings pitched (268). His 67 strikeouts as a freshman in 2005 ranks fourth in single-season history while his 63 strikeouts in 2008 is tied for eighth.
"Georgetown baseball was a fantastic experience, for many different reasons. There are a lot of great memories of the people from playing there and a lot of great on-field memories as well. I am always going to remember the better games I threw, and some of the not-so-great games I threw. I have a lot of great friends from the team that I still keep in touch with. There were a lot of great guys on the team and being able to play baseball with them for four years was a tremendous amount of fun, on and off the field. That goes from a coaching standpoint too. I still keep in touch with Pete as often as I can. He has been a great influence on not only my baseball life, but off the field as well."