One of the main highlights of the Boston Red Sox Class A affiliate Lowell Spinners’ Annual Dinner held Jan. 19 at the Tsongas Center was the emotional presentation of the Greg Montalbano Award, which honored the husband-wife team that leads the Wareham Gatemen, President/GM Tom Gay and VP/Executive Committee member Sheri Gay.
Presenting the award was Greg’s sister, Kristen, who was in attendance along with members of the Montalbano family as were friends and executives from the Wareham Gatemen and the Cape Cod Baseball League.
“The Montalbano family and our family have become one over the years and last night was somewhat bittersweet as receiving the award was so very special to Sheri and me,” said Tom Gay, whose family housed Greg at their home. “But it’s also a reminder we lost a very special person in Greg. While most people know of his talent on the field, the real superstar was the person off the field.”
Montalbano, a minor league southpaw pitcher from Westborough, who attended Northeastern University and played for the Gatemen and Lowell Spinners, died in 2009 of testicular cancer at the age of 31.
He was drafted by Boston in 1999 and pitched in the Red Sox system for five years for Lowell, Sarasota, Trenton and the Portland Sea Dogs. He was released by the Red Sox in 2001 and later played for the Worcester Tornadoes in the Can-Am League. There, he became virtually unstoppable with a 0.86 ERA. He continued to play, even as he was receiving treatments after being in remission.
“He touched so many people in a positive way, while suffering an unforgiving disease,” said Tom Gay. “Even now, after his death, he continues to help young children suffering from illness in a positive manner. His dream of helping continues in One Ball, Two Strikes Inc., a non-profit corporation which raises money to send sick children on adventures such as camping trips, fishing, etc.”
Proceeds from the dinner and live/silent auction items went to the Joann Weber Charitable Fund, named after the late wife of Spinners’ owner Drew Webber.
Another honoree was Boston Red Sox hurler and former Spinner Clay Buchholz (17-7, 2.33 ERA in ’10) as the ninth recipient of the Dick Berardino Distinguished Alumni Award, given to a Spinner alum currently in the Major Leagues who best represents qualities of productivity, work ethic and coachability. Last year’s recipient was current Red Sox and former Bourne Braves player Kevin Youkilis.
Accepting the Peter Gammons Media Award was Boston sportscaster Dan Roche of WBZ-TV and radio. Other speakers were former Spinners Steve Lomasney (1996), Mike Gambino (2001) and Mike Chambers (2006). Gambino is currently head coach at Boston College and Chambers will manage the new Futures Collegiate League of New England team in Nashua, N.H.
Other notables in attendance were MC and current GM of the Spinners Tim Baumann, former American League 20-game winner Bill Monbouquette, slugging catcher Rich Gedmen (new Spinners’ hitting coach) and recent CCBL Hall of Fame inductee Lou Merloni, all formerly of the Boston Red Sox.
John Garner Jr. is the Director of Public Relations & Broadcasting for the Cape Cod Baseball League.