Article

FIRST IN ON THE SINKING OF THE SS PITTSFIELD COLONIALS: NO ONE HAS THE ANSWERS, EXCEPT THE PLANET, AND THEY’RE ON THEIR WAY TO YOU, JOHN and JANE Q PUBLIC … YOU WILL SCARCE BELIEVE!

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, SATURDAY, SEPT. 17, 2011) — No one has been digging into the muddied situation surrounding the fate of the Pittsfield Colonials and professional baseball in Pittsfield the way THE PLANET has.

And NO ONE has the story that we do.

Finally, Some Answers: THE PLANET Has Been Digging

The sun has set, for now and maybe for good, on professional baseball in Pittsfield. It didn't have to happen. (PHOTO FOR PLANET VALENTI SPORTS BY JOSH CUTLER)

Since the season ended so ingloriously, with three playoff losses — the “home” portion of which were held on the road — THE PLANET has been working our with out metaphorical shovel and digging. We’ve spoken to team and league sources, from CEOs to janitors. We are ready to piece together some answers, which the citizens of Pittsfield — especially all who supported the team this year and last — deserve. You won’t believe some of it, but all of it is true, to the best of our ability to determine.

We shall be presenting the first in our series later on today. For now, though, we want to mention that ridiculous decision to send the playoffs totally on the road, thereby stiffing the loyal fans who supported the team 20 percent greater than last year. Yes, attendance rose from 700 to 840 in one year, this despite epic mismanagement that essentially left kids in diapers to serve as GM, community relations, marketing, and other key posts.

Mismanaged and Underfinanced: A Deadly Combination

Boil it all down, however, and it reverts to money. It always does, from pro ball to politics, if you aren’t financed properly, you don’t stand a chance.

From the beginning, the team was underfinanced. They operated on seeds and stems. Vendors, then players, missed paychecks. Who was ultimately responsible? The ownership structure was never made clear. Was Bob Seaman the owner? Was Buddy Lewis? Both? Why wasn’t this team properly capitalized, especially given its disastrous stay in New Hampshire? What happened?

We shall provide some answers, so keep checking back. THE PLANET is in the middle of a hectic (but fulfilling and enjoyable) day. Like McArthur, we shall return.

We will add one point first. The three playoffs games in New Jersey, which included two Pittsfield “home” games, drew about 900 fans COMBINED. I can guarantee that if the first two games were held at home, the C’s would have drawn anywhere from 1,600 to 2,400 fans. Attendance had been tracking up, especially in the second half. As we said, attendance was up 20% for the year. None of that was good enough, and so someone made the decision to go to New Jersey. That worked out great, didn’t it?

The 20% gain showed that despite bad management and no money, the team was starting to gain traction. What would happen if a well-financed group of professionals in the front office took over? What would have happened if the panic button wasn’t pushed, and there was a five-year commitment? That 20% would soon have pushed attendance to then past the break even point. Unfortunately, it appears we’ll never get to know.

Stay tuned for a stunning expose.

———————————-

WE’RE OFF INTO AN INCREDIBLY JAM-PACKED, EXCITING WEEKEND. NEXT POST WILL BE ON MONDAY, WITH MORE COLONIALS AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN THE TRIPLE MURDER, EXCLUSIVE TO THE PLANET. STAY WELL, AND …

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

14 Responses to “FIRST IN ON THE SINKING OF THE SS PITTSFIELD COLONIALS: NO ONE HAS THE ANSWERS, EXCEPT THE PLANET, AND THEY’RE ON THEIR WAY TO YOU, JOHN and JANE Q PUBLIC … YOU WILL SCARCE BELIEVE!”

  1. beezer
    September 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    The plight of baseball at Wahconah Park and lack of support, has been the same for years. It seems for whatever reason, a franchise cannot make a go of it. When the our beloved Pittsfield Red Sox left, there was nowhere to go but down. The caveat to all of this is, why can’t someone with bookoo bucks (OR FAT CATS) invest in a team? Just think, a tax write off and no pressure to rely on a heavy attendance figure every season, something has to give here!

    • Albert Prince
      September 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

      agree with Beezer, this would be a great situation for some fat cat who wants to own a team and doesn’t need the mloney. But as Planet says, if its managed well and theres enough $$, a team would make money at Pitts.

  2. Dusty
    September 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Nobody knows who owns the team? It was under financed? Poorly managed? No wonder Ruberto jumped at the chance to get them…they are classic Ruberto 101.

    And about your ticket sale figures. ..do they include the ones businesses bought and passed out? cuz if so…the actual fannies in the seats might be a tad inflated

  3. Sally Jones
    September 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    What are the chances that the residents of Pittsfield and nearby just aren’t interested in hometown baseball like they used to be?

    Do they still have to do that sun delay thing?

    I went to one event at Waconah on a hot day in July. It was a band concert of some sort. Anyway, it was around dinner time and the fact that I had to sit in the blazing hot sun, completely blinded and burning up, really ruined the occasion.

    I know some people say that the fact that the stands face west and the sun sets at that time is all part of the charm of Wahconah Park but people don’t care for charm like they used to. They take the comforts of our 21st century lives for granted and expect them. Sometimes Pittsfield is just too stuck in the past.

    • danvalenti
      September 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      SALLY
      The sun delay in a short season league (late May and forward) is only affected by the delay early in the year, and, of course, only on sunny days, of which there are relatively few. That’s not a problem. More to your point, there is a market for pro ball, but it will never be tapped as long as you have The Amateur Hour administering the product. Good points about how used to the 21st century amenities we have become, and the city will either have to invest seriously in Wahconah Park or build a new stadium if it wants to be taken seriously by a professional league.

  4. Ray Ovac
    September 18, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    DV, it pays now to remember recent Berkshire history. It was Pittsfield’s GOB’s and The Berkshire Eagle that derailed Jim Bouton’s generous offer in late 2003 to field a baseball team in Wahconah Park. As a pro-baller with personal pride and pro-ball connections riding on his proposals, Bouton-managed local baseball would have given Pittsfield a real ball team for which the city could have been rightly proud instead of this string of amateur-hour wannabes to which Pittsfield’s GOB’s insist on leasing Wahconah Park.

    • Dusty
      September 19, 2011 at 12:56 am #

      and if you would like to know exactly how this disgraceful debacle unfolded get a copy of Jim Boutons “FOUL BALL”. It kind of summarizes Pittsfield politics then and now. It’s free at the library unless the authorities have banned it. A great read indeed.

      • Ray Ovac
        September 19, 2011 at 1:33 am #

        “Foul Ball: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark, Plus Part Two” by Jim Bouton.
        Link: http://www.amazon.com/Foul-Ball-Times-Trying-Ballpark/dp/1592288677/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316420891&sr=8-1

        From Amazon.com:
        “In his first diary since Ball Four, Jim Bouton recounts his amazing adventure trying to save an historic ballpark in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Host to organized baseball since 1892, Wahconah Park was soon to be abandoned by the owner of the Pittsfield Mets who would move his team to a new stadium in another town—an all too familiar story.

        Enter Bouton and his partners with the best deal ever offered to a community—a locally owned professional baseball team and a privately restored city owned ballpark at no cost to the taxpayers. It was a dream come true for the vast majority of the people of Pittsfield.

        But Bouton’s plan was opposed by an elite group of power brokers who wanted to build a new $18.5 million baseball stadium—a stadium that the people had voted against three different times!

        In what one reviewer called “that same humane, sarcastic voice,” Bouton unmasks a mayor who brags that “the fix is in,” a newspaper that lies to its readers, and a city government that operates out of a bar.

        And that’s just Part l.

        Part ll is the even more amazing story of what happened after this book as self published—a story in itself—in hardcover. Invited back to Pittsfield by newly elected city officials, Bouton and his partners raise $1.2 million, help uncover a document that dates Pittsfield’s baseball origins to 1791, and stage a vintage baseball game that is broadcast live on national television.

        Who could have guessed what would happen next? And that this time it would involve the Massachusetts Attorney General.”

  5. beezer
    September 18, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    The sun area is also known as Vitamin D section.

  6. Scott
    September 18, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    See beezer’s glass is half full!

  7. Scott
    September 18, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Speaking of 21st century amenities Sally google “sunglasses” or “brimmed hats” perhaps.

  8. dusty
    September 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Ward for is being rewarded ahead of time for their votes. Williams street is just about to be paved. No, it did not really need it compared to 1000 other city streets but city hall takes care of its ward four folk.

  9. Ray Ovac
    September 19, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    DV, given the failure of the Colonials and also given Jim Bouton’s earlier experiences, maybe the answer to saving Wahconah Park and getting baseball back to Pittsfield in Wahconah Park is to get politics and the power brokers out of the equation entirely. How does one do that?