First time In team history
For the first time in team history, Boston placed two players on the League All-star team. Christian Thaxton was named the MVP of the league on offense. He broke a 21 year record by hitting .897 at the World Series. We recently told that story here: and it was part of a story that played on national radio on NPR here. Just this past week, Justen Proctor was named to the League All Star team as well. He was named to the 2017 World Series all star team on defense and was the 6th best defender in the league making 4.2 stops per game. It was the second time Proctor had earned this award in his career.
There was a bit of work to do here and some lobbying to get him on the team because he was not initially recognized by the league. Thankfully, the league saw a way to give him this honor. Here is how it went down.
In game one of the World Series, Coach Weissman wanted to get Proctor some reps on offense because they had been working hard to teach Justen better hitting mechanics. Weissman knew Proctor would see some time during the week as a designated fielder but wanted to see if Proctor could help on offense. A decision was made to start him as the Designated Hitter against the Seattle South King Sluggers. He never stepped foot on the field defensively in this contest. Through the week, Proctor would play some games as a Designated Fielder (meaning he would have Larry Haile hit for him) and some games he would play both ways, getting a chance to hit and field. He played in a total of 7 games, but only 6 games in the field. Over the week he stopped 25 balls. That gave him 4.2 stops per game….in Weissman’s eyes. The break out looked like this
|Long Island Bombers||3|
|Austin Black Hawks||6|
Weissman sprang to action
Before the banquet began, Weissman texted the league and asked for the league to please check the score sheets because there was a feeling the league would count the game he was a DH against his defensive stats. There was no response and six players were honored at the banquet. As soon as Andrew Bernet was called to the stand, Weissman knew he would need to bring this to the league’s attention, as Proctor should have been on the team. The team looked like this”:
MVP Isaiah Wilcox (San Antonio) 5.714
2) Tim Chappell (Tyler) 5.222
3) Eric Rodriguez (Indy Thunder) 4.900
4) Ethan Johnston (Colorado) 4.667
5) Carnell Walker (St. Louis) 4.333
6) Andrew Bernet (BCS) 3.857
After the banquet, Weissman spoke with the league and kicked off a request to have this changed. This took about 12 days to look into and when the dust settled, the league decided the right thing was to name Proctor to the All-star team.
It’s important to note for a player to be an all-star on defense they must have great hearing, good defensive skills, play against teams that will put the ball into play and have a great team of defensive callers. At the World Series this year, Justen worked with Bryan Grillo on his side of the field. He worked with a combination of Aarron Proctor and Jamie Dickerson on the right side of the field. For Grillo and Dickerson, they have become two of the top callers in history. For Aaron Proctor, he was calling in his first world Series with less than 6 games experience under his belt. Each of them should take pride in Justen’s accomplishment.
Justen Proctor’s story
Justen started playing for the Renegades in 2009. That season, he joined the team with his brother, Shayne. Shayne was an athlete who loved to compete. He even played high school football in Hawaii against sighted opponents. When Shayne found the team he thought his brother may enjoy it as well. Shayne was sold on playing the moment he found out about it. Justen was not. They both came to a practice in the winter and Shayne was excited while his older brother, Justen was hesitant. Justen had never played on a team or played sports in his life. He was unsure this would be good for him. At a gathering after practice, former captain, Kae Rausch spoke with Justen about the benefits of playing. She told him about her experience with sports and how being a Renegade was rewarding. She was a leader on the team in those days but her voice was more impactful than her stats. That time with Kae helped convinced Justen to give it a try.
Justen found out he really liked playing sports
In 2009, Justen was still learning the game. We found out about his mentality early on during the 6th inning of a game against Long Island in New York. The Renegades entered the last inning of that game down 8-3 and stared to come back. After clawing back the Renegades got the score to 8-6 when Weissman decided to gamble and give Justen a chance in a big moment. Justen had just finished his first ever game and stepped into the box with a grin from ear to ear. In an epic at-bat after fouling off six consecutive pitches, Ron Cochran connected and Justen hit a grounder down the 3rd baseline to Jim Hughes and he beat it out to bring the Renegades one run away from tying it. Boston would eventually win this contest in what is still the longest game in Renegades history – nine innings. Justen would finish his rookie year as a key contributor off the bench.
This kid is Good
As the Renegade coaches looked to see how they could make the team better, it was decided that Justen had some skills we had never seen before. He was the best player in team history at picking up a ball that was not rolling. That made it a no brainer to put him on the left side of the defense. BUT, at that time, Dino Vasile was playing that spot and he was the best two way player in team history. In fact, Dino had just come off a year where he made 59 stops which was the 4th best in team history at the time. Dino was almost named to the All star team at the 2009 World Series in Stockton (but that award was stripped away from him when there was an error with the stats from another team pushing Dino to the 7th most productive defender in California) The Renegades decided to move him to the mid field spot. This gave them a dynamic defense of Proctor, Vasile and Zuccarello. Three players that would earn multiple awards in the league for their defense. How would Justen respond? He made 53 stops in 2010.
2011 was a break out year
In 2011, Justen did even better than he did in 2010. He went out and set a Renegade record that still stands today making 77 stops on the season in 15 games. He also made 39 of these at the World Series which placed him 3rd on the League All-star team. 2011 was not only big for Justen on the field, it was big for him off the field. He had graduated with his MBA and decided to take a job for the Air force in Hawaii which would put an end to his beep baseball career at least for the next three years. He would have hopes to come back in the future, but that would be uncertain.
2016 brings Justen Back
Justen ached to get back to the East Coast. He landed a job doing contracting for the Navy in Rhode Island and came back to play ball for the Renegades in 2016. Upon his return, he had put on a bunch of muscle as he had developed a work out return and a love of staying in shape while he was gone for the previous three years. With Proctor in the fold, the Renegades knew they would sneak up on the league. They knew they had one of the top defenders in the game with Proctor and one of the best hitters in the game in Thaxton. What would happen? Boston would shock the league and get to the title game in 2016.
2017 – Bolingbrook All-star
The World Series is the biggest event in the NBBA. The second biggest event is a tournament hosted in Bolingbrook, Il. This year, the Boston Renegades attended for the 7th time in team history this past June. The tournament hosted some of the best teams in the country including the teams that finished 1-2-3 in the 2016 World Series. Boston would go to these games without three starters (Joe McCormick, Rob Dias and Guy Zuccarello) and without their number one pitcher – Ron Cochran. The Gades were also going with some depth on their spotter rotation as they would be without their top three callers experience wise (Grillo, Dickerson, Lenicheck). It was a great event and got the team some much needed experience. While there, Justen Proctor placed second on the All star team making 23 stops in 4 games. He did this with two spotters who had very little experience. Ben Coiner and Joe Bourque were calling their first set of games together. For Coiner he was 6-0 lifetime in games entering this tournament and Bourque was making his debut. Making a defensive all-star team is something that callers are a big part of as well. They are pictured above with Justen wearing his award
Justen became the 9th Renegade to make a Bolingbrook all-star team for play in this four game tournament. Here is a lost of the players who have made the team
|2004||Darren Black||Defense||28 Stops|
|2005||Darren Black||Defense||17 Stops|
|2006||Darren Black||Defense||20 Stops|
|2007||Luis Marquez||Offense||12-20 (.600)|
|2007||Darren Black||Defense||12 Stops|
|2009||Dino Vasile||Defense||21 Stops|
|2010||Shayne Cantan||Offense||9-14 (.643)|
|2013||Joey Buizon||Offense||10-15 (.600)|
|2017||Justen Proctor||Defense||23 Stops|
Renegade All Stars
With the naming of Proctor to the 2017 All-star team, the Renegades continue to have an impressive list of names that are among some of the top players in the league. Here is a list of all of the players named to league All-star teams at the World Series. Offensively, we have listed their stats and their Average. Defensiveley, we have listed how many stops they made and the quantity of games played. The league determines a defensive All start by the amount of stops per game
|2003||Darren Black||Defense||2nd||28 stops in 5 games|
|2006||Darren Black||Defense||6th||25 in 7 games|
|2007||Luis Marquez||Offense||5th||18-30 (.600)|
|2011||Justen Proctor||Defense||3rd||39 stops in 7 games|
|2012||Guy Zuccarello||Defense||MVP||36 stops in 7 games|
|2013||Guy Zuccarello||Defense||3rd||41 stops in 8 games|
|2014||Joe McCormick||Offense||5th||21-35 (.600)|
|2015||Christian Thaxton||Offense||4th||23-32 (.719)|
|2016||Christian Thaxton||Offense||4th||28-43 (.651)|
|2017||Christian Thaxton||Offense||MVP||26-29 (.719)|
|2017||Justen Proctor||Defense||6th||25 stops in 6 games|
Defensive All Star award needs to be changed
The Renegades are thankful the league was able to overlook the game Boston played against Seattle, where Proctor played as the Designated Hitter. It would have been highway robbery to take the award away from him because he played in a game where without stepping on to the field defensively.
Proctor probably woud have made the defensive all-star team in 2o16, but Weissman played him sporadically to get him rest early in the tournament and in those game he only played a few innings, which would hurt his stats. This shows one of the many flaws to this statistic. Looking at stops per game is flawed on so many levels. If a player plays an inning on defense, they are penalized as they may not even get a defensive chance, and this counts as a game against the stats.
What needs to happen is the league needs to devise a scoresheet which tracks defensive innings played. If defensive innings were tracked, the league could more accurately award defensive stats to players. This would have given Proctor the award without an argument It may have even put him on the team in 2016 when he played a few innings of defense in some of the early games.
It gets even more complex from here. Another issue with the defensive awards is the only people who win it play up front in the first layer of the defense. Many times, players who make the defensive all-star team play on teams who don’t have anyone else on the team who can make stops. Boston was the recipient of this in 2003 and 2006 when Darren Black led the Renegades defense. Heck, this happened this year as well. Here are a few examples.
|Year||Team||Leader-stops||Rest of team -stops||% of stops made by team leader|
|2003||Boston||Black – 28||8||78%|
|2006||Boston||Black – 25||26||49%|
|2017||St. Luis||Walker – 39||24||62%|
|2017||Lone Star||Bernet -27||23||54%|
There is some work being done to try and track defense differently. This would allow us to measure who the best front men are as well as the best second and third layer players. It would also look at the amount of innings players play. This change needs to be seriously considered by all teams. It will take some efforts to train people to use the scoresheets. It will make compiling the stats more complex. Ultimately, the league’s goal should be to try and automate this effort which will make this easier, more accurate and quicker to compile. Until that day happens, we hope that we can drive change and use Justen’s example as one that shows the flaws of the system.
The Renegades are Excited to see their star defender get some recognition as an All-star. He is one of the most unheralded stars in the game. Seeing someone join the team with no sports background turn into one of the top defenders in the game is amazing. It truly shows that you can be good at something that you have never done before. It shows the Renegade coaching staff has helped produce a top player with its style of coaching and its a fun story to hear. Justen came to this team in 2009 without any desire to play. He came because his brother asked him to. He ended up leaving the team for a career and then came back to help lead his squad to the title game. Justen never quits working. He is driven professionally and on the field. We call him a diva, but he will continue to be a force in this sport and make the Renegades a top team for years to come.