Sports

Baseball playoff hero Cal Raleigh has deep roots in Swanton

The Baseball Raleighs – Cal Raleigh’s Uncle Matt Raleigh (back, second from left) and Father Todd Raleigh (back, second from right), led the MVU Thunderbirds to a state title in 1987 over – oh, how sweet it was – St. Albans rival BFA.

By Guy Page

Long before catcher Cal Raleigh hit an electrifying, walk-off home run securing a playoff berth for the Seattle Mariners, the Raleigh family was a baseball legend in northwestern Vermont. 

In the 1980’s, Raleigh’s father Todd and his uncles John and Matt were historic baseball stars for Missisquoi Union High School in Highgate. With those three, MVU was a perennial contender for state champ, even against far bigger schools from the state’s urban centers. 

Cal Raleigh hugs his grandmother Doris Raleigh after hitting a walk-off homerun last week that put his Seattle Mariners into the playoffs.

The Raleighs weren’t the only phenomenal athletes to dazzle Franklin County in the 1980’s. John LeClair starred for Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans before a standout – what an understatement – hockey career at UVM and with the Philadelphia Flyers. 

The three Raleighs were all terrific athletes. Matt Raleigh was an all-state hockey player and basketball star. Todd was an all-state soccer player who scored 1200 points in basketball. 

Cal and Todd Raleigh (TR Facebook photo)

But their greatest achievements were in baseball. Todd would later became a star college catcher, playing for UVM grad Jack Leggett in North Carolina, and then a coach. Matt played minor league baseball for a decade, twice hitting more than 30 home runs and rising as far as Triple-A, the last stop before the majors.   

Their eldest brother, John, died of Lymphoma in 1983 at age 19, after setting the standard of athletic effort and excellence for his younger brothers.

According to Ruthie Laroche of the St. Albans Messenger, the youngest generation of the Raleigh family is still competing in Franklin County sports. Several generations of Raleighhs were on hand to watch Cal – A/K/A “The Big Dumper,” don’t ask – hit the first ever walk-off homerun to clinch a playoff berth since the playoff format was adopted in 1969, 

To read about Cal Raleigh’s heroics in the final game of the regular season and his further efforts to help the Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card series, see MBL.com coverage.  But if you want to read about the legacy of family, hard work, and ridiculous genetics for athletic ability, read Laroche’s announcement of the induction of all three brothers into the Vermont Principal’s Association Athletic Hall of Fame in 2022.

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