AMATEUR BASEBALL: Howard Lake’s Borrell inducted into North Star League Hall of Fame

HOWARD LAKE – Ben and Tom Borrell have been playing baseball together ever since they can remember. Whether in the back yard as brothers, or on the field in an Orphans uniform as teammates, the love for the game of baseball was always there.
After 20 impressive seasons with the Orphans organization, Borrell was inducted into the North Star League Hall of Fame July 19 to honor his playing career and dedication to the game of baseball over the years.
“It’s truly an honor,” Borrell said in his speech. “When Bookie (Brian Larson) called, the word I used was thrilled. You don’t always get recognized for the work that you do over time. I’m really appreciative of everyone recognizing the time and effort I’ve put in. Thank you for that.”
Borrell’s amateur baseball career started with the Orphans back in 1998. It didn’t take him long to make an impact. He posted a batting average of .333 his first season, which was one of 10 seasons with an average of .300 or better in his career.
One of Borrell’s best seasons came in 2013 when hit .484 with two home runs and 10 RBI. Over the course of his career, Borrell has been a key piece to the success of the Orphans, resulting in many state tournament appearances.
“I was fortunate to play on some really great teams,” Borrell said. “We were in an awful lot of state tournaments. I look at our teams and say our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. We were just a hell of a team. We played complimentary baseball. We played good, fundamental baseball. I was really blessed to play with a great group of guys.”
As good as Borrell was on the field, he was an even better teammate according to his manager Mike Gagnon. Taking in Borrell after his high school career, Gagnon watched him grow over the years into a leader and versatile player.
“Ben had a passion and love of the game,” Gagnon said. “He worked hard to improve as a pitcher and a hitter. He was a very good teammate that knew what to say to build up teammates when they needed encouragement and also to get on guys when they were lazy or didn’t play the game the right way. He played several roles as a player. He accepted his role whatever it was at the time. As much as Ben contributed as a player, the thing I’ll remember most about Ben is he was a great teammate. He built other guys up and had fun while he was doing it.”
In his 20 years with the Orphans, playing in front of the home crowd was one thing that always stood out to Borrell when looking back on his career.
“When I think about my time with the Orphans, it’s hard to condense 20 years into a short little (speech),” he said. “One of the things that really made it special playing for Howard Lake was the great crowds we always have. Playing in front of passionate fans who are riding umpires, cheering on the team, maybe giving the other team a little grief, that really brought a lot of energy and was a lot of fun.”
Borrell started his amateur baseball career as a young player with a group of friends simply playing the game. He left the Orphans as a leader and mentor for some of the younger players that now step on the field in a Howard Lake uniform.
“We grew up a lot together,” Borrell said. “We started as 19-20-year-old kids chasing girls mostly. Then we started having families and getting into our first homes. Next thing you know, one of our former bat boys is starting in the game today. The last year I played there several guys on the team that were born after I started playing.”
Baseball has meant the world to Borrell over the years. Whether it was big games, clutch hits, or just hanging with the teammates, baseball has always had a piece of his heart.
“There’s a quote that encapsulates how I feel about baseball and this wonderful game I’ve taken so much joy in,” Borrell said. “It goes like this. I’ve spent the majority of my life gripping this little white ball, only to realize it was the other way around all along.”

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