PLANET BARES FANGS JUST TO KEEP LOOSE, plus, OUR COVERAGE OF THE PITTSFIELD COLONIALS — BEST ANYWHERE! — continues with PT. II OF OUR TEAM PREVIEW. TONIGHT, THE HOME OPENER!
BY DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MAY 26, 2011) — The Pittsfield Colonials open what could be a make or break season for professional baseball tonight at Wahconah Park against the New Jersey Jackals. The Planet shall be there with coverage, with Josh Cutler assigned the game story. Our best-anywhere coverage of the team continues today with Team Preview, Pt. II. TOnight at BWP, we hear “Play Ball!” But first, a couple teasers just to exercise our incisors.
A REDDER SHADE OF CRIMSON, WEARING THIN
We didn’t say we were off politics and the mystery and madness of same, remember? We merely said the focus would change for the summer. Thus we present two quick hits, to keep limber:
Colonials Gather on The Day of The Big Speeches
JOSH CUTLER’S COLONIALS’ PREVIEW, PART II
While the 2010 Pittsfield Colonials proved to be a success on the field, many onlookers in the Berkshires pointed to the franchise’s poor average attendance (702 per game in the regular season and last in the Can-Am League) as a more accurate gauge of the season.
In response, the Colonials have launched new initiatives and partnerships for the 2011 season designed to appeal to a greater cross-section of Berkshire County residents and visitors, as well as to build closer connections between the team and the community.
Changes at Wahconah Park
As part of the franchise’s new initiatives, Wahconah Park will have numerous fan-friendly upgrades ready in time for Thursday night’s season opener against the New Jersey Jackals.
* Two of the upgrades involve suds and kids, or as my boss The Planet put it, “beer and brats.”
SUDS — In an effort to capitalize on the popularity of the beer garden located on the first base line, the Colonials have constructed a second beer garden along the third base line. KIDS — To entertain young children before and during the game, the team has constructed a play area near the bathrooms on the first-base concourse.
* As a special treat for box seat season ticket holders, the Colonials have established the 1791 Sports Bar and Club beyond the right field auxiliary fence. Designed to provide clear sightlines to the game, the 1791 Club’s two open-air gazebos will offer something rare to be found at a ballpark at any level: a fine dining experience, provided by executive chef Michael Roller. The location of the club will provide for seating beyond the field of play, a feature unique to Wahconah Park’s 119-year history. Team Owner Buddy Lewis explained on a tour of the park on a sun-drenched Wednesday that to protect the safety of the fans, protective netting will be installed on the front of the gazebos.
* For those sweltering summer mid-afternoons and evenings, The Dugout, an ice cream booth run by the proprietors of Scoops on Wahconah Street, will serve a vast array of frozen treats. The ice cream bar, the size of a trailer, will be located on the first-base concourse.
* In response to popular demand, the Colonials will host firework shows following each Friday night home game this season (May 27, June 10, June 17, July 8, Aug. 5, Aug. 12, Aug. 26, and Sept. 2), in addition to the traditional fireworks display following the Colonials’ July 4th contest against the Brockton Rox. The Colonials have also designated a number of evenings as “theme nights”, including St. Patty’s Day (June 17), Motown (July 18), Christmas in July (July 25), Mardi Gras (Aug. 13), 70s Night (Aug. 27), Beach Party (Aug. 28), and Halloween (Sept. 3).
* The Colonials are also planning an evening during the season to honor former Pittsfield Red Sox pitcher, city councilor, and Jimmy Fund advocate Paul Dowd, for whom the Wahconah Park playing field was dedicated by the Pittsfield Parks Commission on April 11. The date for the dedication ceremony has yet to be determined.
As the product of a new three-year licensing agreement between the Colonials and the City of Pittsfield that keeps the Colonials in Wahconah Park through the 2013 season, the franchise is taking advantage of open dates throughout the season to present non-baseball events on dates when the Colonials are out of town. These will include:
— May 28: Grandslam Boxing, featuring Pittsfield native Todd “The Punisher” Poulton against former WWF entertainer Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake (in lieu of retired Major League outfielder/steroid user Jose Canseco, who pulled out of his contract two weeks prior to the event).
— June 4: Berkshire Country Fest, headlined by Pittsfield native Michael Joseph, and featuring other popular regional entertainers such as David Grover, Bobby Sweet, Whiskey City, The Rick Rebel Band, and many more acts.
— July 9: Scout Night (for both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts)
— August 14: Berkminster Dog Show
— August 21: Craft Fair
The most important initiative of the Colonials’ 2010-2011 offseason has been that of building partnerships with fans, businesses, and organizations in throughout the Berkshires. To gain a better understanding of the franchise’s successes and shortcomings from the past season, the franchise hosted a group of 12 diehard fans for a discussion on Jan. 4 at the Colonials’ 2 South Street headquarters.
At this meeting, Lewis, Manager/GM Jamie Keefe, Assistant GM Nick Avanzato, and Front Office Staffers Amanda Iozzo and Heather Cachat spent two hours listening to the observations and concerns of the fans. They also sought input on some of their new initiatives in the works for the upcoming season.
Both the organization and the fans agreed that collaboration and openness to innovative thinking will be the key to the long-term success of the franchise in Pittsfield.
In the spirit of collaborative success, the Colonials have partnered with local non-profit organizations for each of the team’s 54 home games. The partnership can amount to a mutual success; the organizations will be able to use the exposure of the park in an effort to raise money for their budgets, and the Colonials will be able to draw from the influx of people who attend for the non-profit and attract a new set of fans which they might not ordinarily appeal to. Among the non-profit organizations scheduled to appear at Wahconah Park include Goodwill, Lanesboro Veterans Food Pantry, and Defeating ALS.
Recognizing that previous organizations who called Wahconah Park home were successful in partnering with local school systems, the Colonials have dedicated three dates as “School Days”. The games, on June 1, June 7, and June 8, will begin at 10:30 am in order to accommodate the academic day. Not only will children in local school systems be able to take in a baseball game, but the franchise intends to use the events as educational experiences in line with existing curricula.
In addition to this educational collaboration the Colonials have partnered with WTBR-FM (89.7), Taconic High School’s student-run radio station, to simulcast all home games and select road games this season. The Colonials’ play-by-play announcer, Chad Cooper, will be joined in the booth by Taconic High student Billy Madewell to bring the action to radio, a medium unused by the organization last season. Also, Cooper and Dan Valenti will co-host the weekly program “Colonials’ Corner with Chad and The Planet” on WTBR throughout the season, airing Monday mornings at 8:30 am.
The Colonials have also reached out to the elders. Seniors 65 and above will be charged $5 for general admission (whereas the normal price is $7 for general admission). Furthermore, all residents of Berkshire County nursing homes and assisted living facilities are entitled to free admission to any home game this season.
To build closer relationships between the team and the elderly, two Colonials players are residing at the Laurel Lake Rehabilitation Center in Lee, and two other players will call Melbourne Place in Pittsfield home for the season. In addition, military veterans will get in free at the Colonials’ May 30 Memorial Day matinee against the Rockland Boulders.
The Pittsfield Colonials open their 94 game season at Wahconah Park today, Thursday, May 26th at 7:00 pm against the New Jersey Jackals, as part of a seven-game home stand to open the season. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.pittsfieldcolonials.com, visiting the team offices at 2 South Street (in the Berkshire Common building), or by calling the team’s offices at (413) 236-2961.
The Planets notes how we have lived true to our word to bury the boring Broadsheet, which we have done since Sepember in the news, commentary, and enterprise journalism areas. We are doing it now with sports. While we have brought you 4,000 words of season previews, the BB could only manage a back page of mug shots and rosters. While this makes a convenient clipping and handy reference, it doesn’t come close to what we’ve done. With Josh Cutler, our aim will be beat the Eagle in C’s coverage all year. If they want to complete, they’d better raise their game.
WITH THAT, WE BID YOU ADIEU.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLE.
LOVE TO ALL.