New Milford (AP)
Today the New Milford Blazers honored former MVP and local icon Jack Cust with a ceremony before the game behind home plate. Every member of the capacity 58,172 crowd received a Jack Cust bobble head which were reportedly selling on EBay for up to $1,000 each post game. The ceremony, in which the #32 became the first retired number in Blazer history, was filled with laughs and cheers.
“In 2007, the Blazer organization had a choice with the first pick in the mid season farm draft,” explained GM Anthony Peburn. “Our guys made a mistake. We were torn between Jack Cust and prospect Matt LaPorta. We chose LaPorta. Fortunately for all Blazer fans around the world, we were able to trade for Cust later that year from Las Vegas and rectify that mistake.”
The story of Cust has been the stuff of legend. He always had the reputation of a true three outcome player, but not one that anyone wanted to take a chance on let alone build a franchise around. Cust single handedly turned the New Milford Blazer franchise from laughing stock to contender. “We were the punchline in every BDBL joke before Cust,” said Peburn. “Jack changed that.”
In 2008 the Blazers were expected to finish poorly. Cust hit 35 HR for the Blazers with 120 BB’s, 97 R and 98 RBI. His 1.057 OPS caught the attention of the league. “(Cust) is my choice for MVP,” stated Commissioner Glander. “Where would the Blazers be without him?” Cust finished second to Prince Fielder that year.
The legend grew in 2009, where again the Blazers weren’t predicted to do much pre season yet ran away with the division thanks to Cust, the MVP Cust this time, and his 49 HR, 118 R, 127 RBI, 136 BB and 1.080 OPS. “You can point to 2009 where the winning tradition started,” boasts Peburn. “We’ve kept it alive ever since, but you can point to Jack to turning the perception of this organization around.”
2010 was a “down” year for Cust, with only 56.8 RC and a 776 OPS. Dispite 90 wins, the Blazers finished third in the division that year.
Cust bounced back in 2011, with 93 RBI and a 984 OPS, leading the Blazers to a division title. The Blazers have won the division every year since.
Cust finished his 4 year career with 125 HR’s, 373 BB’s, 370 RBI’s, 325 R, and 422.9 RC with a 281/411/565 triple slash line.
The crowd erupted and Cust shed a tear as New Milford unveiled it’s first monument in the gazebo in center field in Cust’s honor. Cust was then named the new hitting coach for the Blazers and New Milford made a $100,000 donation to the Jack Cust Hitting Academy. “I’m overwhelmed,” said Cust. “I’m honored to be a part of this and to help build something special here. It’s unreal.”
After the ceremony, TBS announced plans to film “Blazers Rising, The Jack Cust Story.” No word on who will play Cust in the made for TV movie.