It was a ceremony that inspired emotions ranging from goose bumps, tears and joy as more than 100 people gathered at Matthew “Pop” Shortell Field at Nolan Field on Wednesday afternoon for a moving tribute honoring longtime Ansonia High School baseball coach Mike Vacca on his recent 500th win.
The event preceded Ansonia’s scheduled baseball game versus Oxford.
Mayor Cassetti delivered a heartfelt speech peppered with Vacca statistics to the crowd that included several former and current Ansonia sports figures and city dignitaries including former AHS baseball coach and Mayor Jim Finnucan, quarterback sensation Sandy Osieski, Ansonia Athletic Director Shaun Supp, NVL umpire Rich Marazzi, Mayor Tom Clifford and current football assistant coach John Sponheimer, Athletic Director and head football coach Tom Brockett, Police Chief Kevin Hale, football assistant Robert Lisi, Superintendent of Schools Carol Merlone and many others.
During the Mayor’s speech, extended applause followed throughout as Coach Vacca was recognized for his mentoring, and inspiring hundreds of Ansonia baseball players both on and off the field over the decades.
Coach Vacca, whose Ansonia baseball coaching career began in 1971 spanning 47 years and counting, was given a plaque by the city for his milestone accomplishment and Mayor Cassetti read a proclamation announcing May 10, 2017 as Coach Mike Vacca Day in Ansonia.
“He’s the most dedicated coach I ever saw,” said Jim Finnucan, a former Ansonia mayor who preceded Vacca as the AHS baseball coach.
At the ceremonies conclusion, the four current captains of the AHS baseball team (Bryan Cafaro, Jordan Jones, Pat Palmer, John Bucci) removed a tarp covering the third base coaching box to reveal the number 500 painted on the grass in Charger blue and white.
Vacca is also listed as the fifth winningest baseball coach is Connecticut history.
Unfortunately, Oxford did not continue with the celebration by handing the Chargers a 12-1 loss.
A copy of Mayor Cassetti’s speech chock-full-of-interesting Vacca baseball statistics and accomplishments is below.