CUMBERLAND — Major league baseball pitcher Aaron Laffey soon will be challenging some of the best hitters in baseball in hopes of earning a spot in the New York Mets starting rotation.
Sunday night he issued a challenge of his own to award winners and guests at the 65th Dapper Dan Awards Dinner the Ali Ghan Shrine Club.
Laffey received the the top award — the George W. Stevenson/Nicholas A. Perlozzo Memorial Award — for the third time, the others having come in 2006 and 2007. He joins Bob Kirk, Sam Perlozzo and Leo Mazzone as the only three-time winners of the award, given annually to the person who brings the most national recognition to the Cumberland area through athletics.
“It’s important to take pride in what you do because you only get out what you put into it,’’ he said. “If you put in 100 percent, you’ll get out 100 percent. But if you only put in 50 percent, that’s what you’re going to get, too.
“Challenging yourself and competing against yourself is a perfect start on the road to success.”
Laffey, 27, knows all about success. He has six years of major league baseball under his belt, having been drafted out of Allegany High School by the Cleveland Indians in 2003. He made his big league debut with the Indians in 2007, and later that year pitched 4 2-3 innings of one-hit shutout ball in a relief stint at Fenway Park in the AL playoffs.
Laffey has also pitched for the Mariners, Yankees and Blue Jays. Last year he was 4-6 with a 4.56 ERA with Toronto and left-handers batted only .239 against the southpaw. He has a 25-29 career record with three saves and a 4.38 ERA.
Last night, he praised the other award winners and urged players and guests alike to concentrate on personal improvement in every aspect of their lives.
“Don’t root against others or your opponents. Take care of what you have to do and what you need to do to get better yourself,’’ he said. “If you do that, a lot of other things will take care of themselves.
“I am a big believer in positive thinking for positive results and I take 100 percent pride in everything I do. Whether it’s in sports, academics or at work, if you tell yourself you can’t do it, you are right.
“All of these award winners have had the will, strength and determination to go the extra mile, and to put in the time when no one’s watching. What you do and how hard you work when no one is watching is most important. Always give 100 percent.”
Laffey was the 2003 high school baseball player of the year at Allegany. That year he was 6-1 and in 44 1-3 innings did not allow an earned run, walked eight and struck out 116. He also batted .533 with two home runs and 22 runs batted in.
He was 19-3 with a 1.27 ERA and 315 strikeouts in 148 1/3 innings — an average of 14.8 strikeouts per seven-inning game — in his high school career.
Additional coverage of the Dapper Dan Awards dinner will be featured later this week.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org