Top News

Always polished, but far from finished

<p>Gerald Butt (left) of the Gonzaga Vikings and Scott Goosney of the Shamrocks are shown at St. Pat’s Ball Park earlier this week. The St. John’s Molson senior baseball league began its 70th season this weekend. Goosney was the league’s most valuable player during the 2015 regular season, while Butt was named the playoff MVP after helping Gonzaga to a second straight championship.</p>
<p>Gerald Butt (left) of the Gonzaga Vikings and Scott Goosney of the Shamrocks are shown at St. Pat’s Ball Park earlier this week. The St. John’s Molson senior baseball league began its 70th season this weekend. Goosney was the league’s most valuable player during the 2015 regular season, while Butt was named the playoff MVP after helping Gonzaga to a second straight championship.</p>

After, over 20 years and too many swings to count, Gerald Butt is still producing in the St. John’s Molson Senior Baseball League.

Now 39, Butt has quietly forged a pretty fine career, and he’s not done yet. Breaking into the senior circuit at 17, Butt later played pro ball in independent leagues in Canada (Winnipeg Goldeyes) and the United States (New Jersey, New York, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois).

“I’ve been all over the place,” he smiles.

The St. John’s native is the only Newfoundlander selected not once, but twice in the Major League Baseball draft — in the 61st round in 1994 by the New York Yankees, and in the 46th round by the Cincinnati Reds four years later.

Related story:

Goosney's got good stuff

(A tidbit which falls under the useless information category: Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins was picked eight rounds later than Butt in ’94 by the Florida Marlins.)

Butt was drafted as an 18-year-old catcher by the Yanks, and as a pitcher by the Reds. He didn’t sign with either team.

He was attending the National Baseball Institute in Vancouver when he was selected by New York, and was at Mayville State University in South Dakota when Cincinnati pegged him.

The Reds offered Butt a standard $850-a-month contract to play rookie league ball in Billings, Montana, but he declined the offer.

“I was hurt the first time (with New York), and the second time, I was drafted as a pitcher but I really didn’t pitch. My heart wasn’t in it, really, and if I couldn’t give 100 per cent, I wasn’t going to do it.”

So he was a baseball vagabond for a number of years, playing all over the U.S. and Winnipeg before coming home and the St. John’s senior league.

Long a mainstay on the St. John’s Capitals and a couple of different teams in the senior loop, Butt showed last year he still has it, leading the league with 26 hits.

He was the playoff MVP as his Gonzaga Vikings won a second straight league title.

“The beginning of season is always fun and exciting, and playoffs and all-star with the Caps, of course,” he said. “What makes it special and important is being around the boys. We have a good bunch of guys with Gonzaga and the Caps. That’s what makes it fun on and off the field.”

Butt doesn’t foresee himself as another Peter Cornick, the ageless wonder and Hall of Famer-in-waiting who’s still catching into his 60s with the Feildians’ intermediate squad.

But his son, Cody, is 12 and a good little athlete, so maybe there’s a chance the younger Butt could be playing intermediate ball at 16 or 17.

“To play with him would be really neat, and it’s something he’s already expressed to me.

“The thing is, if I find I don’t want to go to the ball park, I’m not going to force myself to play. It will be time then.

“I like to run and dive and slide and get dirty. I can’t be coming here and lollygagging. A DH’s role might be alright once in a while, but I can’t come here and watch a whole game without playing defence.”

After catching virtually the entire 2014 season, Butt saw his time behind the plate reduced last season. He was at the hot corner for much of the year, and played shortstop in the finals, a position he expects to play this summer.

“I guess the one good thing about me is that I can kind of play anywhere,” he said. “If there’s an opportunity for a younger guy, and I can be moved, that’s great.

“Even if I have to sit, that’s the way it works. Father Time catches up to everybody.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

Now 39, Butt has quietly forged a pretty fine career, and he’s not done yet. Breaking into the senior circuit at 17, Butt later played pro ball in independent leagues in Canada (Winnipeg Goldeyes) and the United States (New Jersey, New York, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois).

“I’ve been all over the place,” he smiles.

The St. John’s native is the only Newfoundlander selected not once, but twice in the Major League Baseball draft — in the 61st round in 1994 by the New York Yankees, and in the 46th round by the Cincinnati Reds four years later.

Related story:

Goosney's got good stuff

(A tidbit which falls under the useless information category: Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins was picked eight rounds later than Butt in ’94 by the Florida Marlins.)

Butt was drafted as an 18-year-old catcher by the Yanks, and as a pitcher by the Reds. He didn’t sign with either team.

He was attending the National Baseball Institute in Vancouver when he was selected by New York, and was at Mayville State University in South Dakota when Cincinnati pegged him.

The Reds offered Butt a standard $850-a-month contract to play rookie league ball in Billings, Montana, but he declined the offer.

“I was hurt the first time (with New York), and the second time, I was drafted as a pitcher but I really didn’t pitch. My heart wasn’t in it, really, and if I couldn’t give 100 per cent, I wasn’t going to do it.”

So he was a baseball vagabond for a number of years, playing all over the U.S. and Winnipeg before coming home and the St. John’s senior league.

Long a mainstay on the St. John’s Capitals and a couple of different teams in the senior loop, Butt showed last year he still has it, leading the league with 26 hits.

He was the playoff MVP as his Gonzaga Vikings won a second straight league title.

“The beginning of season is always fun and exciting, and playoffs and all-star with the Caps, of course,” he said. “What makes it special and important is being around the boys. We have a good bunch of guys with Gonzaga and the Caps. That’s what makes it fun on and off the field.”

Butt doesn’t foresee himself as another Peter Cornick, the ageless wonder and Hall of Famer-in-waiting who’s still catching into his 60s with the Feildians’ intermediate squad.

But his son, Cody, is 12 and a good little athlete, so maybe there’s a chance the younger Butt could be playing intermediate ball at 16 or 17.

“To play with him would be really neat, and it’s something he’s already expressed to me.

“The thing is, if I find I don’t want to go to the ball park, I’m not going to force myself to play. It will be time then.

“I like to run and dive and slide and get dirty. I can’t be coming here and lollygagging. A DH’s role might be alright once in a while, but I can’t come here and watch a whole game without playing defence.”

After catching virtually the entire 2014 season, Butt saw his time behind the plate reduced last season. He was at the hot corner for much of the year, and played shortstop in the finals, a position he expects to play this summer.

“I guess the one good thing about me is that I can kind of play anywhere,” he said. “If there’s an opportunity for a younger guy, and I can be moved, that’s great.

“Even if I have to sit, that’s the way it works. Father Time catches up to everybody.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

Recent Stories