Holman Stadium experiences last a lifetime

It’s never easy coming up with a Top 10 of anything, is it?

Choosing often means losing.

But for yours truly, Holman Stadium has so many modern memories over a 32-year span, that the choice is even more difficult. We came up with a Holman Top 10 (personal) Mements five years ago when the grand ol’ park turned 75; we’ve ammended that slightly because there have been some events in the last five years that have slipped in there. And maybe a new perspective on those that were included already.

So, with the big 80th birthday celebration set for Tuesday culminating in the Futures Collegiate League All-Star Game, here goes:

1. LATE MAY, 1998: THE NASHUA PRIDE’S OPENING NIGHT

It was tops five years ago, and remains that way. Who could forget the incredible sight of former super popular Red Sox star Mo Vaughn walking in from center field and hugging Pride manager Mike Easler, with a crowd of over 4,000 celebrating the return of professional baseball to Holman. It began a significant 11-year chapter in the facility’s annals. And was the birth of Monkey Boy, who will make his triumphant return to Holman on Tuesday.

2. AUGUST 1988: THE BAMBINO WORLD SERIES

Holman was the host to a significant national youth sporting event that spawned several days, drew four-figure crowds, and was enjoyed by all. Nashua’s own Fred Lajoie was its organizer; remember Bambino is now Cal Ripken baseball. The event spawned an organized but failed effort to return affiliated minor league baseball to Holman – namely a potential Red Sox Double A franchsie. But it re-enforced the idea that Holman was a place that could attract major events – or a major tenant.

3. JULY 2003: RICKEY HENDERSON WINS ATLANTIC LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAME MVP

You know, we had this ranked ninth five years ago and that’s a mistake. When a Hall of Fame player like Rickey Henderson plays at Holman in front of a sellout crowd, that’s too memorable.This was the last time a crowd of over 4,000 appeared at Holman, watching the best the Atlantic League had to offer. You’d be surprised at the list of baseball stars and greats who have appeared at Holman, especially during the Pride days.

4. THE SILVER KNIGHTS WIN THE 2017 FCBL CHAMPIONSHIP.

They won it at home in 2012, but that was just the league’s second year and the franchise was still relatively new. This time, in beating Worcester, the stands were packed (well over 2,000) and fans stood cheering for the longest time. It will go down so far as the best moment in Silver Knights history.

5. JULY 17, 2017: THE U.S. NATIONAL TEAM BEATS JAPAN

This was just one of those rare events that, if you were there, you won’t forget. Top major college standouts you would have watched on ESPN, bonding as Team USA playing Team Japan, getting a win in the decisive Game 5 of the series. A great display of baseball, culture, and afterward, complete harmony. Just one of those rare events Nashua and Holman was fortunate to have. This was just such a unique event it has to be our top five.

6. LATE SEPTEMBER, 2000: THE NASHUA PRIDE TAKE A 2-0 LEAD IN THE ATLANTIC LEAGUE FINALS.

The game itself was fairly non-descript. But what was so significant was what happened after the game,as Pride manager Butch Hobson addressed a crowd of just over 1,000 on a sun splashed, warm late Sunday afternoon. He thanked fans for their support, and announce he was returning the following season as manager. It was a feel good moment that those who were there will always remember. As Pride coach and local baseball coaching legend Bill Twomey said, “Anyone who was here today will certainly come back next year, and this shows how valuable it is to have a team here.”

7. NOVEMBER 1997: NASHUA WINS DIVISION I FOOTBALL TITLE

A game that changed Holman forever. It was a 15-0 win over rival Londonderry for the Bill Hardy-coached Panthers in the slop and mud, the last football title won at Holman. But it also helped alter Holman’s history, as the damage it did to the field helped spell the eventual end of the facility as a site for football and the push for a modern rectangular field turf facility approved three years later known as Stellos Stadium.

8. JUNE 2005: NASHUA SOUTH WINS CLASS L BASEBALL TITLE

South’s 6-1 win over Salem has been the last local school baseball championship celebrated at the facility, which for a time was the site for the Class L/Division I baseball quarters, semis and finals; now just the semis. But it was a historical moment, the first Nashua boys sports title after the split into two high schools. You never know but the way things are now, this may be the last high school championship (or local high school championship) celebrated at Holman. Or at least for a long time, as other places are now used for these title games.

9. AUGUST 2009: THE AMERICAN DEFENDERS ARE LOCKED OUT OF HOLMAN

A dubious and somewhat sad memory. Seemingly rescued from a sad night nearly a year ago when then-Pride owner John Stabile announced he was selling the team and it didn’t look good for a return of pro ball, the franchise’s existence came to an end. Owners of the American Defenders who bought the team from Stabile with so much promise in September of 2008 had mismanaged things to the point where the rent and other bills to the city and business were far behind. Who will ever forget the sight of a bulldozer parked at home plate to prevent any game from being played? But just over a year later good news with the color Silver was coming.

10. APRIL 15, 1997: A CELEBRATION OF JACKIE ROBINSON, ROY CAMPANELLA AND DON NEWCOMBE BREAKING BASEBALL’S COLOR BARRIER

It was the 50th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League’s color barrier but also included in the national celebration was the commemoration of Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella doing it at Holman with the 1947 Nashua Dodgers. Newcombe and Roxy Campanella – Roy’s widow º were on hand for a celebration at Holman sponsored by Daniel Webster College, which played that afternoon at the facility. History, folks.

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