BRASS BASEBALL LEAGUE
TOM TAORMINA

tom2.jpg (22377 bytes)

1960-2000

Tom Taormina was a founding member of the Brass Baseball League. 
Vaughn Nuest wrote the following not long after Tom passed away.

We bid a most affectionate farewell to you, Tom.  You will never be forgotten.  You did a lot of good to a lot of people in those 39 years.  We would have given anything to have enjoyed the next 39 with you.  You succeeded as most only hope to succeed in everything you did.  As a son, a brother, an uncle, a family member, a police officer, a colleague, a confidant, a Strat owner, a Statistician, a Free Agency Conductor, a League Director, a friend.  But mostly as a friend.  They were lined up for miles to pay their last respects at your funeral.  If only you could have seen—hopefully you did see. 

Like most things you touched, you also left your team and the BRASS League in better shape than it was when you joined.  How sad we are, but how fitting it is, that you left us during your brightest moment in BRASS: coming off a first-round playoff sweep, as the reigning regular season champion of the Silver League, about to play for your first Silver League Championship and striving for your first BRASS Championship Trophy.  You did not fall short of that trophy, my friend.  It is yours.  It will always be yours.  Henceforth, the BRASS League will be playing for the Thomas Taormina Trophy.  The coveted, traveling, brass bucket trophy has been renamed in your honor.  You are the definition of a true champion and in BRASS, championships will now be synonymous with your name.   When we celebrate each new champion, we will also celebrate your contributions to BRASS.

Below is how we knew you and how we will remember you.  We see a home-made logo of one of your favorite Long Island ballclubs on the screen of your trusty computer, where you devoted many hundreds of hours for our fun and enjoyment.  Strat cards are arrayed on the surfaces of the table and computer around you.  One of your famous planning binders lay open on the table, chock-full of strategies and ratings and lists and everything you needed to guide your teams well. Your trusty telephone is near your computer, which you used for the BRASS free agency process and often used to talk folks through Strat software problems. We see a sign on the cork board over your shoulder that says “Hilltop Park, Home of the Long Island Gray Sox”.  Of course, it is in Tiger Purple.  And if we look very closely at that cork board, we will see a photo of your little niece, where you could always look at her.  This is the same niece who will have the wonderful benefits of a free college education now because she was lucky enough to have you as her uncle.  You mattered, Tom Taormina.  And you will always matter to BRASS.

You wrote in your contribution to the BRASSball League Directory in 1995 that the thing you enjoyed most about PBM Leagues was that “…it’s great to be able to meet new people who share the same passion.”  Our dear friend, the pleasure was all ours.  May you rest in eternal peace.

(The following text was also written by Vaughn and sent to league members)

It was two years ago this past March that Tom Taormina dedicated a portion of his Silver League newsletter to our league colleague and friend Frank Toy, who passed away after a brief battle with cancer.  I cannot think of a more fitting way to execute the extraordinarily sad duty I have to report to you all that our friend Tom Taormina passed away this Sunday and was buried today.  Tom's own words sum it up best.  We have lost a friend.

Tom's contributions to BRASS and the common enjoyment we all share, were nothing short of amazing.  He was a trusted confidant to me, the most reliable executor of league duties, the most eager to lend a hand to keep the league running, and one of the most pleasant, respectable, honorable individuals I will ever meet.

It is not inaccurate to say that Tom saved BRASS more than four years ago when he offered to fill the Silver League Directorship.  We had been through several Silver League Directors and the task of running BRASS alone was well beyond my available time.  In typical fashion, Tom not only filled the position, but set a standard for accuracy, prompt mailings, features, newsletter design, and always in the pursuit of fun.  I cannot conceive of anyone doing a better job with this post than he did.

Tom did so despite administrative commitments to two other leagues, a full-time job, studying for tests to get promotions, and on-going plans to build himself that new dream home.  And of course, there was that debilitating two-year battle with a most virulent form of lymphoma.

My contact with Tom was through our common Strat hobby, of course.  It is how we met.   And while Tom's performance in our hobby reflected the wonderful characteristics and character of Tom Taormina the man, it was in his life that true measure of this man was taken and understood.

Put simply, Tom was unselfish, he was generous, and he was heroic.

Tom chose to serve others in his life, as opposed to serving himself. From getting to know Tom, I saw first-hand how he gave of his time, his money, his friendship, and how he layed his life on the line for others every single day in his job.  I marvel at that to this day.

Tom was an officer of the New York Police Department and served a beat assignment in one of the highest crime precincts in the greater New York City area.  Tom was a stock broker for a while in his early adult life (now we know where he got his analytical and statistical abilities) and ultimately chose to answer a family calling to serve on the citizen's police force that was privileged to number him among their ranks.

Tom was shot at on numerous occasions, never had a complaint lodged against him in the performance of his duty, and never wavered in his commitment to maintaining civility, peace and safety in his area of responsibility, to the degree he could influence it.   Active in his police circles, he often spoke of helping other officers who had answered the same calling he did.  His commitment to his brethren and the wisdom that lead him to be this way, was frequently returned in full by his police force colleagues.   He drew frequent visitors to his home and on his hospital stays, and was the subject of fund raisers and other forms of support in his illness.

The story of Tom's life is heroic in other ways as well.  His commitment to his family, and they to him, allowed Tom the dignity of a death that is as honorable as peaceful as such an event can be.  For he died with his entire family at his side, his hands in theirs, theirs in his.  His brothers and other family members lived with him and cared for him for the entire 26-month period of his illness.

Tom did not often speak of his death, though the reality was a constant companion.   Always the organized and thorough one, he spoke to me on one occasion of arrangements he had made in my regard about an orderly transfer of league files and information, should something unexpected happen to him.  Now that it has, he has looked out for us all by including these arrangements in his last will and testament, a document that lays out responsibilities that one of his brothers will be executing.   I am not at all surprised to report then, that Tom is helping us and still running the Silver League, even after his death.  Tom was that way.

From one of these conversations, I learned that Tom planned to take his considerable savings for his long dreamed of new home, and provide for the full college education's of his young nieces.  Their Uncle Tom will be contributing to the quality of their young lives in ways that they can scarcely understand at this point, but will hopefully understand one day. I hope they honor him by living their life as he did.

I last spoke to Tom was on the morning of Friday, April 7.  He was in the hospital again for a bout with another of the infections that had attacked his weakened immune system, and had given him the 104 degree fever that made him delirious at times during our conversation.  He joked about it, of course.  I was reporting the results of his free agency bids, and he was recording them on the hospital stationary that had been transformed into the Long Island Gray Sox financial transaction sheets.

Having run the process for several years, Tom well knew the value of quick decisions.   The last thing that Tom said to me was, "Here kid, let me give you your first two signings and get you started off right.  I know this is a bunch of work to fall in your lap at the last minute, but I appreciate you covering for me."

And in typical fashion, to the end, Tom's thoughts were about others.

When I called back at the arranged time two days later, he was not there, having suffered a sudden heart attack a day earlier and having been transferred to the Critical Care Unit, to struggle on for 8 more days in the loving presence of his family, before meeting a peaceful end.

I just got off the phone with brother about an hour ago and learned of the news.  His brother spoke glowingly today of the bus loads of New York Police officers who came to his funeral in Long Island.  They even closed the Long Island Expressway in his honor as the miles and miles of mourners carried Tom to his final resting place.  His brother, a New York State Trooper, said he had never seen such an event.

We talked for an hour of Tom's life and his untimely death and the manner in which he touched those who knew him.  We agreed that we were each the better for having met this wonderful grandson of an Irish immigrant from Long Island named Tom Toarmina.  I know I will celebrate his life and my brief period of sharing in it with him, for the rest of my days.  Tom's brother said it best and said it simply when he told me, "He was the best brother that a guy could ever hope to have."

I know that I cannot properly express the depth of my abject sorrow over his passing in just his 39th year and in never getting a chance to hear his friendly voice again, no more than I can express the reverence and respect with which I hold his life and his life's choices.  I hope that this tribute serves as our own little tribute, across the miles, in this odd electronic medium where we seldom really "meet" each other, to a friend and colleague whom we were all privileged to have known.
Tom had it right.  Tom made life simple.  He did his best everyday and looked out for others.  May we all learn from him.  May he rest in eternal
peace.

--V.