City, FCBL made the safe call in moving All-Stars to Wednesday

On his way out of town 15 years ago, former Nashua Pride general manager Billy Johnson was asked what was needed to make baseball in the city and at Holman Stadium successful.

“You know what we need in Nashua?” Johnson said with a very serious face. “We need it not to rain.”

See, some things never change. Nashua Silver Knights general manager Rick Muntean, Parks-Recreation Superintendent Nick Caggiano and Futures League Commissioner (and also former Pride GM) Chris Hall were saying the same thing on Monday when they collaborated on the decision to postpone a day-long, well-planned Holman Stadium 80th Birthday Celebration and its centerpiece event, the Futures Collegiate League All-Star Game.

It’s been a relatively dry summer for the most part, but don’t tell that to Muntean, whose Silver Knights have already been rained out at Holman three times. Last week they played two makeup doubleheaders, giving them five games in a four-night stretch.

But the fortunate thing for the Holman celebration was that it has the Futures League Game as its centerpiece, so a lot of the celebration can go on as scheduled Wednesday – which is supposed to be mostly sunny, by the way.

It was a good move.At least from what forecasters said Monday, the rain and storms Tuesday could be severe. With the next day forecasted as mostly sunny, with everything involved, organizers really had no choice.

The big choice that was made took place in a board room at the Department of Public Works headquarters three months ago, when a committee organized by City Hall — yours truly and fellow Telegraph staffer, senior staff reporter Dean Shalhoup served on it – picked the FCBL All-Star Game as the day and event to plan Holman’s celebration around.

Back in March, Nashua Silver Knights general manager Rick Muntean (also on the committee) said he was determined to lobby for the Futures League All-Star Game already set for Holman to be the centerpiece of the celebration.

And the committee, in turn, agreed. There was really only one other choice, possibly a weekend day in mid to late September, closer to the actual anniversary of the stadium opening some 80 years ago. But there would have been no real event as a centerpiece.

There were several committee members much more valuable to the cause then yours truly, such as Holman historians Shalhoup and recent Holman Fame inductee George Tebbetts.

But a newcomer in Muntean was enamored almost as soon as he arrived with a sense of Holman history. He had previously worked in the FCBL as the general manager in Bristol and the Blues’ stadium, Muzzy Field, has a lot of history as well.

But with a lot of work beginning in March for the season and the All-Star Game, Muntean was into making the game an extravaganza.

“There’s a committee and I’ll see what the committee wants to do,” Muntean said back then. “But let’s get some people here. I’d like for everybody in town to be talking about it. …I want to do something really special for it.

“I’m looking into names who have played here, and putting together a list of targets to go after – which is football, concerts, and baseball. What am I forgetting?”

Whatever he forgot or didn’t know, the historians on the committee picked up the slack.

Muntean loves history, especially baseball history, and that history will be front and center on Wednesday. The teams will be wearing old Nashua Dodger home and away uniforms, and players will don the numbers of either Dodger greats Roy Campanella or Don Newcombe. Fabulous idea.

It will still be an event. “Just a lot of the other stuff (like the band concert and kids games) won’t happen, it’ll be mainly baseball,” Muntean said. “But that’s OK.”

It will be festive. Local dignitaries will speak. Different Holman eras will be honored, faces and pictures will be featured prominently on the video board.

Fans can watch a home run derby. They can bid on those historic game-worn Dodger jerseys in a silent auction. They can go crazy when the World Famous Monkey Boy, still slated to come, tries to move it, move it.

“I hope we still — we need to have a great crowd,” Muntean said.

And, as Johnson once said, they need it not to rain.

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or@Telegraph _TomK.