#7 Chris Giamou
This week's Shootout Star of the Week is one of the most respected ball players in fastpitch, not only for his skills and quiet leadership but because the way he conducts himself both on and off the field in such a gentlemanly manner. He has been recognized by former Stars of the Week as being one of the better ball players they have played with or against. There is no better honour than to be recognized by your peers for your abilities and accomplishments and this week's Star of the Week is acknowledged by many players both past and present as one of these players.
It's a true honour to have Chris Giamou playing for the Durham Bulls in the Shootout Showdown and for being this week's Star of the Week. We thank Chris' son Michael for doing this write-up on his father.
Growing up across the street from Amesbury Park presented Chris Giamou with the means to incorporate fastball into his life from an early age. He stayed at Amesbury until he was sixteen, playing mostly short-stop (though dabbling with some pitching), before he left to join the Village Caterers at Dieppe. The move meant that Chris had to resign the position of short stop, already held by his older brother John on Village, for second base. It was not until 1984 when coach Glenn Verge would convert Chris back to shortstop, where he would stay. It took him a while to adjust, but Chris eventually welcomed the challenge of the position and came to enjoy playing there.
The early years of playing alongside his older brother John, as well as players like Bob Fitzgibbon and Bill Stirrat, provided Chris with an environment of mentorship which was conducive to improving his game. Later, Pat Acton, Mark Bendahan, Bill McTavish, and Wayne Webster (to name a few) were also slotted into this category. As he and his teammates improved year after year, the competition in the Dieppe League likewise improved, and that level of competition contributed immensely to Chris' enjoyment of playing the sport.
Some years the boys saw over one hundred games a season; so it came to be that a lot of their time was spent playing, drinking beer, and creating memories. Getting back into the Masters and the Legends has presented Chris with the opportunity to relive a lot of those special memories which he cherishes so immensely.
Chris holds in high esteem many of the teammates that he played with for the Village Caterers in the early 1980's. These are guys who were in their prime, including his brother John, Steve Trotman, Bender, Bill Mac, Pat Acton, Gary Preszcator, and Duffy Campbell. During his years in Newmarket and Owen Sound, Chris fondly recalls playing with Brad Underwood, Al Burnham, Bob Richardson, Glen Moreland, and Larry Bodeshefsky.
In terms of notable opponents, Chris was always impressed by Marty Kernaghan of Penn Corp and his team. His top five pitchers of all-time (in no particular order), are: Brad Underwood, Michael White, Fred Butt, Harold Passmore, and Rich Mioskiowski.
With Owen Sound, Chris and the team came close to winning the 1988 ISC in Decatur, Illinois, ultimately placing third overall in the tournament. However, it's the 1990 Canadian Senior Men's championship win which he regards as his greatest accomplishment, and it is that roster which he holds in the highest esteem in terms of cohesive talent.
As a youngster, he felt an OASA championship was out of reach, so to be able to win the Canadian Senior championship was thrilling for Chris. At age 32, he felt he had achieved everything he wanted out of competitive fastball, and so he decided to take a step away from the game which he loved.
Towards the end of his career, Chris began to notice a huge difference in the game from when he first started playing. By the early 90's, games were decided by a run; pitching and defense made all the difference. Today, the evolution of the sport has come even further with modern technology: from bats, to balls, and everything in between, the mechanics of the game has changed drastically. Getting back into the game now has not been without its challenges in light of these advancements; typical ground balls are so much quicker, and routine fly balls seem to travel so much father than before.
Exposure to the game is something which Chris regards as the upmost important factor in contributing to youth awareness of the sport for kids today. He enjoys that Fastball Canada is now running TV ads. "After all," he says, "Fastball is Canada's game." Volunteer coaching and organizing is a thankless but vital component of keeping the game alive and vibrant, and Chris commends guys like Pat and Bob Acton for what they have done for women's fastball; not just in terms of coaching, but for channeling talent towards an end goal that includes higher education. "The game needs more of them," says Chris, "and their Dad, Charlie, would be proud of what they've done for the game."
So many notable moments come to mind for Chris when asked to recall his best fastball memory. If he had to chose one, it would have to be stealing home to win the game against Passmore's team in the 1981 Bulova Watch Tournament at the CNE. In the extra innings of the game, the Village Caterer's managed to get the bases loaded with two outs. Chris, not being able to recall ever hitting Harold, is sure he must have walked to get on base. Ron McKanick was the coach at third, and as they watched the catcher, Herb Luke, lazily toss back the first two pitches, Chris told Ron that he was going to steal home. "Are you sure?" Ron asked. Chris recalls Billy Reed, a leftie, at the plate when he took off. Herb had just turned his back to Harold after the third pitch, and so Chris slid into home without a throw. They all celebrated after the game in the beer garden, and Deb and Chris invited the entire team back to the apartment they were renting at the time, with celebrations lasted until the early morning. Chris told his teammates that the play was Ron's idea, and Ron even went along with it for a while, but the constant questioning - "did you really tell Chrissy to steal home?" - eventually got to him and Ron cracked, admitting that it was Chris' idea all along. RIP Ronnie.
It's a privilege to all who have shared the field with such a person as Chris and to call him friend. To have him back in the game to add even more memories to his career and ours is what the Shootout is all about. For encompassing all the characteristics of a true sportsman, we recognize Chris Giamou as this week's Star of the Week.