welcome to hamden yards!
Hamden Yards is pleased to announce we have purchased a new building at 131 Leeder Hill Drive in Hamden, CT. We are also pleased to announce that Former NY Yankee, Shane Spencer, will be relocating to Hamden this winter and spring to work with our teams. With the help of our new Lead Sponsor Drew International and Drew Marine, we have purchased a HitTrax Machine, a Rapsodo Pitching Machine and a Hack Attack Pitching Machine for our new facility. Along with our new lead sponsor, we have also merged our Yard Dogs Travel Program with the Boston Prospects to become the US 9 Prospects. This merge combines two great programs with a strong history of development and college placement for our players. Former Cheshire High School standout, director of the Boston Prospects, Major League Baseball Agent and current MLB Associate Scout for the Atlanta Braves, Pete Mrowka, former MLB Pitcher Brian Looney and former NY Yankee Shane Spencer bring a ton of experience, knowledge and college contacts to the table. Our history speaks for itself when it comes to placing our players into college.
Hamden Yards has been one of the top facilities in the state of Connecticut for a number of years. Former Major League Pitcher Brian Looney has brought to Hamden 16 years of professional baseball experience. HY takes pride in the developmental aspects of the game that many do not teach today. It’s easy to open a facility and put teams on the field, but the hard part is teaching the game to be played the correct way. At Hamden Yards we not only teach the skills necessary to succeed in baseball, but we also stress academics and how to handle yourself off the field. This past year alone we have sent 10 players from our Yard Dog Teams to play in college. We have assembled an All-Star Staff here at Hamden Yards that works tirelessly to make sure all of our players are prepared both on the field and off. Brian Looney, Pete Mrowka, Bill Mrowka, John Waitkus, John Slusarz, Trey Stover, Mike Derosa, Chris Donlon, George Tirado, Tim Bessette and Shane Spencer are the main reason why our teams have been so successful. Our winter programs in the past have featured former Major Leaguers Ryan Radmanovich, Shane Spencer, Matt Merullo and former NY Yankee Legend Jim Leyritz.
US9 Prospects tryouts for spring/summer 2021:
The US9 Prospects will be fielding teams next Spring/Summer from 13u-18u. Our 13u team will play in either the East Shore Travel League or the Waterbury League and will also be competing in 3-4 tournaments. We have also just added a 14u Spring Team for 8th Graders to be coached by former Major Leaguers Shane Spencer and Brian Looney. Our 14-18u teams will be tournament teams, competing in high end tournaments throughout the Northeast along with some of the top college camps and showcases. We will also be taking a group of 2023 Grads to Fort Myers, Florida in October for the WWBA World Series. We will also have a few top end college recruiting teams merged with our partners in Boston. These teams will be attending 11-12 Tournaments/College Camps and will be coached by former pro and college players.
All of our teams will be sponsored by Wilson, Louisville Slugger, Evo Shield and Demarini. A team store is now up and available for all of our players and families.
We still have a few openings on our 13-14u and 18u teams. Please contact Brian Looney at 203-526-4931 or for more information or to set up a private tryout.
Former Yard Dogs Playing in College:
Cooper Mrowka-George Mason University
Mike Sansone-Fairfield University
Mike Marella-Fairfield University
Ryan Strollo-Fairfield University
Matt Downing-Northeastern University
Jeff Nicol-Central CT State University
Matt Costello-Post University
Enzo Merlonghi-Saint Anselms
Austin Brown-Western New England
Nico Gaudio-Post University
John Mikosz-Wheaton College
Matt Silverstein-West Virginia Tech
Fran Phelan-Eastern CT University
Mike Pepe-Albertus Magnus
Jonathan Vigdorchik-Western CT State University
Ben Schena-Endicott College
Ben Shadeck-University of New Haven
Joe Sabo-Vassar College
Daniel Manente-Salve Regina University
Justin Miller-Elms College
Mike Kozlowski-Endicott College
Clark Gilmore-Dartmouth College
Aaron Nieves-Eastern CT University
Ryan Scialabba-Saint Anselms
Maxwell Gross-Salve Regina
RJ Burlone-Western Connecticut
Collin McNeil-Endicott College
BASEBALL HEAVEN BLUE CHIP TOURNAMENT CHAMPS 18u 2016
RIKEN CHAMPS 14u 2015
COACH BRIAN LOONEY WITH OLD FRIEND DAVID ORTIZ "BIG PAPI"
Hamden Yard Dogs 18u Team WINS CT Sportsplex New England Turf War Fall 2020
Hamden Yard Dogs 14u Team WINS Baseball Heaven All American Invitational 15u Tournament Summer 2019
Hamden Yard Dogs 16/17u Team WINS CT Sportsplex Swing For Summer 18u Tournament Summer 2019
Hamden Yard Dogs 18u Team WINS CT Sportsplex Fall Foliage Tournament Fall 2018
Hamden Yard Dogs 18u Team WINS CT Sportsplex NE Turf War Tournament Fall 2018
Hamden Yard Dogs 13u Team WINS CT Sportsplex Tournament Spring 2018
Hamden Yard Dogs 13u Team finishes 2nd in the Mid May Classic at War at the Shore Spring 2018
Hamden Yard Dogs 14u Team WINS War at the Sore Spring Swing Spring 2018
Hamden Yard Dogs 16u Tournament Team finishes Second in Diamond Nation World Series Summer 2018
Hamden Yard Dogs 16u Tournament Team WINS Mickey Mantle State Tournament in Waterbury Summer 2018
Hamden Yard Dogs 16u Tournament Team WINS Columbus Day Sportsplex Tournament Fall 2017
Hamden Yard Dogs 18u Tournament Team finishes Second in Baseball Heaven Blue Chip Tournament Summer 2017
Hamden Yard Dogs 18u Tournament Team WINS CT Sportsplex Summer Leadoff Tournament Summer 2017
Hamden Yard Dogs 14u Elite Team WINS NYEB Battle of the Bats Tournament Summer 2017
Hamden Yard Dogs 13u Elite Team finishes Second in Spring Blossom Tournament Spring 2017
Hamden Yard Dogs 13u Elite Team finishes Second in Northeast Baseball Classic Summer 2017
Hamden Yard Dogs 14u Elite Team finishes Second in NYEB Fall Tournament in NY. 2016
Hamden Yard Dogs 18u Tournament Team WINS Blue Chip Tournament at Baseball Heaven!! 2016
Hamden Yard Dogs 16u Tournament Team finishes Second in Perfect Game Super 25 Tournament at New England Baseball Complex!! 2016
Hamden Yard Dogs 16u Elite Team WINS 16u Triple Crown Fall Tournament at Harbor Yard!!! 2015
Hamden Yard Dogs 14u Elite Team WINS Cal Ripken Tournament in Aberdeen Maryland!!! 2015
Hamden Yard Dogs 14u Elite Team finishes Second in 16u Elite Division in East Shore League!!! 2015
Hamden Yard Dogs 12u Team WINS AAU National Championship in Orlando Florida!!!! 2014
Congratulations to our Hamden Yards 12u team for WINNING the Memorial Day Tournament at East Shore and our 13u team for WINNING the War at the Shore Memorial Day Tournament 2014
Congratulations to our 11u Yard Dogs for WINNING the Gil Hodges World Series in Brooklyn, NY!! 2013
A BASEBALL VAGABOND ENDS UP COMING HOME
Lefty Looney now wants to share his baseball knwledge-BY MARK JAFFEE REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN HAMDEN: His baseball dream spanned 18 years, trekking through 39 U.S. states, two continents and international baseball hotbeds in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.He even played in the Italian Baseball League.Brian Looney’s nearly two-decade tour of the globe stemmed from the rookie level New York-Penn League to the International, Midwest and Pacific Coast leagues. The Cheshire native sports championship rings from stints with the Class A Jamestown (N.Y.) Expos and the Double-A Harrisburg (Pa.) Expos.In the mix were brief stops on two major league rosters, the Montreal Expos’ and Boston Red Sox’s, pitching 122/3 innings in a total of seven games from 1993-95.As he glanced over the U.S. map recently, he was asked whether he’d ever played a game in Alabama. “No,” Looney replied, “but I had Tommy John surgery performed on my left elbow by Dr. James Andrews in Alabama in 2000 … Does that count?”It was quite a ride. Growing up, Looney had envisioned life as a professional hockey player, not as a left-handed journeyman baseball pitcher. But a total of 11 major league organizations either drafted him, signed him, traded for him (Boston and Minnesota twice) or released him.He also donned the uniforms of two independent league baseball teams, the Nashua (N.H.) Pride and the Bridgeport Bluefish.The most money he ever made was $9,000 a month.That’s been the roller-coaster pro baseball life of Looney, who noted, “You name it, I was there, up and down the East Coast, from Maine to Florida and a lot of other places in between. I’ve had a lot of great memories at every single place.”The day he made his major league debut, for Montreal against the Mets at Shea Stadium on Sept. 26, 1993, is likely the most unforgettable. Just a few days earlier, he got the unexpected phone call from then Expos general manager Dan Duquette.He had finished the 1993 season with Harrisburg of the Eastern League and returned to Cheshire, where he was trying desperately to line up a golf game with his hometown buddies, but couldn’t reach any of them.”I’m so lucky that I didn’t play golf that day,” he noted.Expos manager Felipe Alou and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan had kept tabs on Looney’s fine numbers at Harrisburg (3-2. 2.38 ERA, 76 strikeouts, 56 innings). So when left-hander Kirk Rueter was injured and shut down for the final four games of the season, the Montreal braintrust thought of Looney.”I was sitting at home watching some bad TV and was about to leave the house, and the phone rang at about 3 p.m.,” Looney recalled. “(Duquette) asked if I wanted to join the team for the final homestand in Montreal. My jaw dropped.”Dan said there was a flight out of Hartford at 4:30, but I told him there was no way that I could get there in time,” Looney said. “He said, ‘I’ll call you back in 10 minutes.’ I called my dad (Ray Looney) and he said that he’d be home in 20 minutes. I don’t even think I said good-bye. The phone rang again, and Dan told me he got me a flight at 5:30 to Montreal. Somehow my dad got me to Bradley in about 30 minutes. I still don’t know how he did it.”When Looney arrived at Olympic Stadium that night, he met Duquette and Alou in the manager’s office. They gave him a uniform, but told him he wasn’t yet activated.”I sat in the stands for three straight nights against the Braves,” said Looney. “The Expos were going to New York and purchased my contract.”On his 23rd birthday, Looney appeared in his first major league game, in relief of Jeff Fassero at Shea Stadium. Darren Fletcher was his catcher.”I remember being extremely nervous when Felipe Alou handed me the ball on the mound,” said Looney.He pitched an inning and two-thirds, struck out his first batter and then gave up two runs. “After that game, I think I threw five scoreless after that to end the season.”What was the best city he ever played in?”I’d love to say Boston or Montreal, but I wasn’t there long enough to call it home,” he said. “I would have to say Salt Lake City, Utah. I ended up getting hurt, but I had one of the better pitching coaches I ever played for in Rick Anderson (now with the Minnesota Twins) and the city itself was absolutely gorgeous. I lived halfway up a ski mountain and was having a career year in 1997 before I blew my elbow out.”His roots in Connecticut are deep, beginning in Cheshire Youth Baseball and youth hockey. He played two years at Cheshire High before transferring to The Gunnery in Washington, Conn. and then playing hockey and baseball at Boston College.”I played two years of hockey before I went full-time with baseball. I regretted it for a while,” he said. “But it ended up being the best decision I ever made. I was a good hockey player, but when I got to BC, the players were just a step ahead of me. I made the right choice.”Then came the tour of the U.S. and beyond.Looney’s longevity in the game, he believes, was because of his ability to get right-handed batters out. Only 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, he threw between 79 and 89 mph, not particularly overpowering stuff. “But I threw strikes and had pinpoint location,” he said.His hockey mentality also helped, allowing him to believe he could get batters out. Selected in the 10th round of the amateur baseball draft by the Expos in 1991, he made an immediate impact for Class-A Jamestown, posting a 7-1 record with a 1.16 earned run average and 64 strikeouts in 62.1 innings.He won seven games at Triple-A Ottawa in 1994, striking out 90 in 124 innings in 1994 before getting traded to the Red Sox. He won nine games over two seasons at Triple-A Pawtucket and briefly pitched for the Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1995.There were plenty of other memorable moments, too, facing the likes of future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.”I faced Eddie Murray with runners on first and third, got him to chase a 3-0 pitch and he hit a sacrifice fly,” Looney recalled. “Two days later, I started against the Marlins and threw three scoreless innings. I came out of the game because I had thrown a lot of innings that year in the minor leagues, so they had me on a pitch count.”Another special moment came when he induced Pittsburgh’s Andy Van Slyke to pop out with the bases loaded and then struck out Jay Bell on three pitches to end the threat.Perhaps his best pitching ally in the big leagues was Pedro Martinez, who approached his Expos teammate in the bullpen to give him tips.”Pedro was a little guy like me and helped with my delivery and showed me how to push off better with my back leg,” said Looney. “He was phenomenal to talk to.”After his stint with the Red Sox, he never reached the major league level again, but did play over the following decade at the Triple-A level with the Yankees, Orioles, Tigers, Indians, Phillies, Marlins, Pirates and Rockies organizations.Following three seasons as a pitching coach and player in Italy, he was offered a contract in 2009, but the deal eventually fell through.”It was lucky for me, as I actually met my future wife (Jen Simione, a Cheshire native) in Cheshire during the time I would have been playing,” he said. They are getting married in September.Looney worked at the Hit Club indoor baseball facility in Thomaston for the past five years before opening his own baseball facility, called “Hamden Yards,” last November.After two decades of accumulating and adding to his baseball knowledge, Looney is lending his help to aspiring players and passing along stories on what it takes to make a boyhood dream become a reality.”I had a dream of getting to the big leagues,” he said. “The hardest part is getting established and staying there. I never looked at my career as having longevity. I just have such a love for the game and my goal now is to try and pass that onto others.