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Friday, March 4, 2011

Silver Knights are off and running in city

Tom King

Enough! This dismal winter must end sooner or later.

And nothing warms things up at the beginning of March like a little baseball talk.

As local businesses are discovering, when representatives of the Nashua Silver Knights enter their establishments looking for sponsors they are the real deal.

“When we pre-paid the rent, it was like,’Oh, wow, this is really going to happen, you guys are really coming’” Lowell Spinners VP of communications Jon Goode said of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League franchise that is going to inhabit Holman Stadium in June and July, a franchise the minor league baseball team is operating. “And being associated with the Spinners definitely helped. There’s nowhere to hide, really.”

The team has been actively making its presence known, having smartly taken all the right steps. Heck, when a local AAU team barked that the team’s name infringed on it, the Spinners people slipped the word “Silver” before “Knights” to keep everybody happy.

The reason this team is here and will give the area another form of entertainment this summer is twofold. Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau wanted some type of steady tenant providing summer baseball after the independent minor league route had unfortunately run its course by being badly run in its last year of existence. And the Spinners people, mainly owner Drew Weber, general manager Tim Bawmann and Goode, had their eyes on a summer wooden bat team for Holman for two years.

“We did our research,” Goode said. “If you don’t have the community behind it, you’re not going to succeed. Even when we did that ‘Meet The Team’ with the Spinners last year (in June at Holman), we did that with this in mind. This has been in the works for a couple of years.”

And there you have it. The best-laid plans of hits and runs, and we will see how they work out.

“Actually, they’re going better than planned, to be honest,” he admitted. “We came in with low expectations (300-500 fans a game) and we’ll keep them low. But there is a vibe, we can feel some excitement.”

There’s a lot more work to be done by the team and the league. There will only be four teams this summer,. The fourth entry was announced this week, the the Torrington (Conn.) Titans. They join the Silver Knights, the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks and the Seacoast Mavericks (possibly, according to Seacoastonline.com, to play their home games at Spaulding High School in Rochester).

Holman is going to be the jewel of the league, as one can see. And while a Vineyard trip may be nice during the summer, it’s a distance. Who would’ve thought that Rochester would be the closest road trip?

The Silver Knights’ 22-game home schedule has been announced, except for the opponents. Goode said game times are 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5:05 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Interesting early times for a Saturday, but again, this group doesn’t do anything without a plan.

“We’ve tried that in Lowell and they seem to be good times,” Goode said, adding they’re looking at talking to the schools about a weekday morning game outing. If there’s not much of a response from the Nashua school department (it’s been a struggle in the past), then they will hold off on that for maybe year two.

In the meantime, they envision the days when the snowbanks disappear and baseball is actually played. It’s tough to envision, but it will get here. The Spinners-run Silver Knights front office is waiting to get into the concession stands and operate them for the first time when the high school games begin. Remember, they have the concessions contract for ever Holman Stadium event and, according to Goode, no event is too small. They’ll be open for every one.

So let’s go through the list: Name? Check. Home dates? Check. Manager and staff? Check. Players? Check. (18 collegians signed).

The Silver Knights even released the artwork for their logo this week.

You can think ice and snow all you want, but the Silver Knights, Nashua’s newest baseball team, is open for business.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com,