!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! COLONIALS GONE FOR 2012, BUT TWO COLLEGE BASEBALL FRANCHISES FROM TWO DIFFERENT LEAGUES WANT TO PLAY IN WAHCONAH PARK
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, SEPT. 8, 2011) — THE PLANET has learned that representatives of two college baseball summer leagues have contacted the city of Pittsfield expressing an interest in playing their home games at Wahconah Park for the 2012 baseball season.
This is significant news for a number of reasons, including:
(1) It essentially confirms what is probably the most open secret in Berkshire County right now, after the fact that Pittsfield politicians — those sitting and those to be newly elected — will let GE off the hook with regards to toxic waste cleanup and reopening the disastrous Consent Agreement. That secret is that the Pittsfield Colonials will not be back in 2012.
(2) It means the city will have options for the continued extracurricular use of Wahconah Park for a brand of baseball higher than Babe Ruth League, high school, and Legion ball. While a big drop from the Double A+ quality of the Colonials, such a brand of baseball would be a step up from schoolboy ball, especially if it involves one of the premium collegiate leagues.
(3) It suggests that under the right circumstances, Wahconah Park is a viable option for premium baseball. Nothing should be ruled out, including professional ball and even affiliated professional ball.
What We Learned from the Front Office Debacle of the Colonials
The biggest obstacle, actually, isn’t Wahconah Park. With continued upgrades, the stadium could be dramatically improved. Would that be worth the investment, though? Right now, the answer is no.
The Pittsfield Colonials, despite an excellent team, failed to draw enough people. Clearly, that wasn’t the fault of the on-the-field product (two straight playoff appearances, two straight Manager of the Year awards, two straight batting champs). It wasn’t the fault of Wahconah Park. It was the fault of the front office and the collections of amateurs, kids, and babies-in-diapers who were given the keys to the car and NO CLUE how to drive. They didn’t even have learner’s permits.
Even if Pittsfield had built a new stadium, the novelty would have long been worn away. By the third year of its existence, a new ballpark fails to become an attraction in and or itself. This eventually happens with new facilities.
Through the Colonials’ off-the-field failure, we have learned about the importance of marketing, selling, and communication. The C’s staff didn’t do much in that regard. Until we have the right combination of team, facility, and front office, we won’t know the answer to the burning question: Is Pittsfield still a baseball town? Right now, THE PLANET ruefully answers: No. It is not.
College Ball Is a-Comin’ … Not as Good as the Pros but Better Than Schoolboy Ball
Sources indicate that franchises from summer collegiate two leagues have approached the city. These talks are expected to result in presentations to the Parks Commission, which will be in a position to select an ownership group of a collegiate team, probably in the fall.
Pittsfield, of course, is familiar with the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The town hosted Dan Duquette’s Dukes a few years ago. THE PLANET can say definitively that neither of the two teams expressing interest involves Duquette. We also have reason to believe the two leagues expressing interest do not include the NECBL. We also know that of the two proposals that are expected to emerge, one has the inside track.
Many Leagues in College Summer
Baseball fans may not realize the burgeoning of summer collegiate baseball leagues. Currently, the following leagues are active:
- Alaska Baseball League [16 Aug 2007]
- Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League [26 May 2004]
- Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League [23 Jul 2007]
- California Collegiate League [16 Jun 2004]
- Cape Cod League [15 Aug 2007]
- Central Illinois Collegiate League [15 Jun 2007]
- Clark Griffith Collegiate League [03 Jun 2003]
- Coastal Plain League [24 Mar 2005]
- Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League [17 Jun 2008]
- Jayhawk League [19 Dec 2001]
- Mountain Collegiate Baseball League [25 Jul 2006]
- New England Collegiate Baseball League [13 Jul 2007]
- New York Collegiate Baseball League [05 Jan 2009]
- Northwoods League [18 Mar 2007]
- Related Resources [11 Jun 2004]
- Southern Collegiate Baseball League [06 Jan 2005]
- Texas Collegiate League [03 Apr 2008]
- Valley League [31 Jul 2005]
- Western Baseball Association [20 Mar 2004]
Some of these, obviously, would not work for Pittsfield because of geography, such as leagues in California, Texas, and Illinois. Readers wanting to sleuth on that basis could narrow down a list of prime suspects. Further exploration could reveal the two leagues interested in Wahconah Park. THE PLANET promised not to reveal the leagues, the teams, or the ownership groups as a condition of obtaining this information. Those who were or are good at CLUE might be able to crack the nut.
MORE TO COME. GOTTA GO NOW. MANY DEADLINES BECKON.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.