Article

!!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

!!EXCLUSIVE!!

(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:

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.

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MORE TO COME. GOTTA GO NOW. MANY DEADLINES BECKON.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

30 Responses to “!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! COLONIALS GONE FOR 2012, BUT TWO COLLEGE BASEBALL FRANCHISES FROM TWO DIFFERENT LEAGUES WANT TO PLAY IN WAHCONAH PARK”

  1. beezer
    September 8, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Mr. Gleason called it!

  2. Shakes His Head
    September 8, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Great news. I look forward to supporting a team here.

    Which has better odds, Lewis paying any outstanding debts to the City or Ruberto attending a Pittsfield game in 2012?

  3. Still wondering
    September 8, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I’d say “no” to both. We know Lewis will stiff the city but Jimmy R. will be in Florida living his new life.

  4. Jim Gleason
    September 8, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Let the local kids have it to use like it used to be. This administration always says it is for youth but has done nothing to prove it. I hope Dan Bianchi, when he is mayor, will take this into consideration.

    • Cynthia H.
      September 8, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      I’m sure Joe Nichols will, Nice political stumping Jim. What’s next ?

    • Real Deal 2
      September 8, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

      I hate to admit it G-Spot, but I agree about the use of the ballpark at Lake Guzzo. Let the high school amd youth leagues use the field (baseball, football, soccer, etc). I hope Joe Nichols considers this when HE is the mayor.

    • Hearse Driver
      September 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

      if joe or dan become mayor, the BWP will be made into another parking garage for BMC

      • danvalenti
        September 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

        Nothing would surprise us! What does it say about a local economy when health care and social services are the two biggest employers?

    • Joetaxpayer
      September 8, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      Jim the local kids have and always will use it PHS and ST Joe football plus boys and girls soccer.Not too long ago babe ruth reg. tourney was there too please stop stating false statements

      • Jim Gleason
        September 9, 2011 at 7:50 am #

        I’m not stating anything false. It is my opinion that the park should be used exclusively for youth sports, not some nisguided mayor’s pipedream of bad professional (so called) baseball. I don’t remember soccer ever having been played there and it shouldn’t be now. There are enough soccer fields in Pittsfield now, we don’t need another one. Let the kids play baseball and football there, that’s what it was built for.

    • Joetaxpayer
      September 9, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

      Youth play at wahconah pop warrener high school football and boys and girls soccer and babe ruth and legion baseball im confussed

      • Jim Gleason
        September 10, 2011 at 7:46 am #

        Pop Warner plays at Reid Middle School now, BR didn’t play one game there thisd summer or last. The Lewis group controlled what went on at the park, not the city, as part of the lease agreement negotiated my ruberto himself. What a great deal for the kids and taxpayers of Pittsfield, we should let him negotiate more deals for us (NOT)

        • Joetaxpayer
          September 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

          Play-offs were played at wahconah park for pop warner last year.

  5. Concerned Citizen
    September 8, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    It is too bad the Colonials are leaving, I met some of the players and the manager and thought they were good guys. Hopefully if one of the collegiate teams comes in the schedule could be worked so that the wooden bat league Lou Orazio started could use the field regularly. That league got shafted twice by the Colonials for use of Wahconah Park for games. It is funny to think that an outside organization could tell a league of players mostly comprised of Pittsfield residents, business owners and tax payers that they couldn’t use the field for which their tax dollars funded repairs and on-going maintenance.

    I grew up playing ball around here and think its an awful shame the first thing people think about baseball in Pittsfield is the team that shafted the city or the air of shifty politics involved. We’ve already invested in the improvememnts we should try and allow as many local leagues to utilize it. It would be great to have a professional team use it as their home field but after all of the debacles that have faced the last few teams here try and let the actual citizens use it for a summer or two. I don’t know how much money the city has actually made on its lease agreements for the park but I think the city has actually lost more than we gained in terms or reputation and publicity.

    The last 2 summers all people talked about was how few people went to Wahconah Park to pay to watch a team. Rather than trying to beat that dead horse (people weren’t going!) focus on local teams and talk about the people who use it and actually enjoy it. I hate to see the city lose revenue but we have to ask do we want to keep being a laughing stock about basbeall?

  6. Bill Sturgeon
    September 8, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Dan: Today, on my show I directed those interested in being the Dan Valenti “First Annual Kayak Race”, being held at Wahconah Park to register on Planet Valenti.

    I want to be the starter!

    • danvalenti
      September 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      BILL
      Thank you for the plug. We have had to go to another server to handle the volume of registrants.

  7. Concern
    September 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Honest question to Jim Gleason. Why do you hate Mayor Ruberto as much as you do?? I only see this through your writing about him. Buy why, I honestly would like to know. Others are against him but with you it seems so much more.

  8. rick
    September 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    jim, let me answer this for you… because robertos a bla, bla, bla.

  9. rick
    September 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    this ball park can be promoted as a site for state babe ruth and legion tourneys that can bring in teams and families from all around the state and country….if promoted in the right way it can be a big money maker..its history alone, is a magnet for young kids to come and play the greatest game in sports, at one of the most historic ball parks in the country.. families will come to pittsfield stay at our hotels and motels, eat at our resturants and go back home with great memories of wahconah park….

    • Real Deal 2
      September 8, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

      Unless it rains.

      • danvalenti
        September 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

        RD2
        You’re on fire today!

  10. Real Deal 2
    September 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Dan, out of curiosity, was “Lake Guzzo” one of your famous coined phrases in Pittsfield politics? Or was it the Greek God of politics himself, Pete Arlos. I know Arold coined the phrase “Eddie Munster” when talking about Matt Kerwood.

    • danvalenti
      September 9, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

      RD2
      I don’t know who coined “Lake Guzzo.” First I heard it was when Bill Sturgeon used it here. Yes, Peter Arlos pinned “Little Eddie Munster” on Matt Kerwood. My own nickname for MK was “Kufflinks.” Both stuck. Incidentally, THE PLANET stuck Arlos with “The Aging Greek God,” which he loved. They don’t make ‘em like Peter anymore, unfortunately.

  11. Real Deal 2
    September 8, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    I meant to say Arlos coined the phrase…

  12. Nomad
    September 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Dan…

    Regardless of what the diehards want to believe…Pittsfield hasn’t been a professional baseball town for some time. I have the attendance figures for the professional teams that have called Pittsfield home since 1965 when Joe Buzas moved his “AA” Red Sox farm team here. Their 1st year here, they drew 79,001, which was tops in the 6 team Eastern League. Year 2, with the novelty having worn off…attendance dropped to 51,113, which ranked Pittsfield 5th in the league. In 1967, the league expanded to 8 teams. Attendance that year was 40,420…good for 7th place. I don’t know the exact number of home games played, but, I believe the schedule’s called for 66. You can do the math to come up with an average per game number.

    Remember, this was before the explosion of new minor league stadiums…and before Wahconah Park was deemed unacceptable for affiliated minor league baseball.

    • danvalenti
      September 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      NOMAD
      You are correct. Discounting the Pittsfield Red Sox magical first year in 1965, for which we were on hand as kids, pro ball hasn’t drawn. You can cite many reasons, but when the city had a responsible ownership group, the city didn’t care. When the city cared, if it ever did, it lacked a responsible ownership group. You would need passion and expertise on both sides for it to have a chance. Maybe a new stadium, too?

  13. beezer
    September 9, 2011 at 3:40 am #

    @ Dusty..do you think he really gives a crap?

    • Dusty
      September 11, 2011 at 1:26 am #

      Somebody gives a crap cuz they deleted the comment

  14. For Pittsfield
    September 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    HEard that the city will be out $40,000. Also, don’t know if any vendors have been paid this year but know for a fact many haven’t. @ Dan V Have you attempted to contact Buddy Lewis or anyone in the orgaization for what they ahve to say about all this?

  15. beezer
    September 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Let us not forget theat Buddy Lewis and Lewis Markham spell there names the same…LEWIS..