Holman has always shined in FCBL All-Star Game
Ahhh, it’s a great memory.
This week marks a year since the 2018 Futures Collegiate League All-Star Game at Holman Stadium, which also included the celebration of Holman’s 80th birthday.
It was one of those Holman moments. Tonight, nearly three hours away in Pittsfield, Mass., there will be one of those Wahconah Park moments. It’s certainly a ballpark with a lot of history as well, and it will serve as a fitting host of the 2019 FCBL All-Star Game.
The seven team circuit divided its players into two teams to honor Pittsfield’s past – the Electrics and the Hillies, from minor professional leagues of the early 1900s throught the 1920s. Good stuff, good idea.
The event, no matter where it’s played, is always a great showcase for the league. The first one ever was here in Nashua, back in 2012, the FCBL’s second year. That was a super event as well as last year’s at Holman.
How can it be made better? Play another league? Give it a permanent site? Nashua Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett isn’t thrilled the game is in Pittsfield this summer.
“That’s just too far to send the whole league out there,” Neverett said. “It’s just a long way.”
Neverett admits he’s biased. He felt that there wasn’t a good crowd when the event was held a few years ago at Bristol. He bristles at the idea of the Game being held at Lynn’s Fraser Field or Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium.
“This place,” he said, referring to Holman, “is the best place in the league to have an All-Star Game. Worcester is good, too. Worcester is very good. Those are the two best places you can have it.
“Bristol was small, not a very big crowd. Brockton’s what it is. It’s not a night out at Brockton.”
But Neverett feels that it is a night out in Nashua, that people will circle the date on the calendar. There was a good crowd a year ago, but it would have surpassed 2,000 fans in the seats had the game/event not been rained out the night before.
“Here people get excited about an All-Star Game,” Neverett said. “Worcester they definitely do. Those games had good crowds.”
Here’s another idea: We’d love to see the Futures League take on another league, such as the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) for an All-Star extravaganza. Imagine the crowd. Imagine the scouts. Imagine the attention.
But that’s likely all we’ll do, is imagine it. Neither league will ever go for it, they simply don’t like each other. There was the flap this off-season when Martha’s Vineyard, a charter FCBL member, bolted for the NECBL. And ironically, the Sharks and the other three original franchises (Nashua, Seacoast and Torrington, of which only Nashua remains), as Neverett will remind you, formed the Futures League because they couldn’t get into other leagues, including the NECBL (the Sharks originally wanted to be in the Cape Cod League).
“We really don’t have a relationship with them,” Neverett said of the NECBL. “I wouldn’t care about playing another league.”
Neverett feels the “Scout Day” workouts held earlier in the day should be nixed, or just work out the FCBL All-Stars.
“They’re asking us to send prospects,” he said. “Well, the only prospects I see in the league are the All-Stars.”
In any event, it’s probably better to give franchises a chance to host the game. Some embrace it, some cringe at the idea of doing it. Pittsfield, like Nashua, has history. Let’s hope that there’s a moment of silence tonight for the recently deceased Jim Bouton, who actually was fighting to rennovate Wahconah and secure a lease for a Can-Am League team there (he lost out to a bid by another owner) back in the early 2000s. But he organized a throwback game around that same time that is said to have been one of the biggest draws at Wahconah.
But Neverett also feels strongly – and rightly so – that the FCBL needs an eighth team. Two divisions, four teams each, and that way you don’t have to have FCBL teammates going against each other in the game as will be the case tonight.
In any event, we think back to the cool event at Holman a year ago and hope that it returns sometime down the road. Tonight meanwhile is a celebration of the Futures League, but it’s a league that certainly needs to make some improvements going forward.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK, or email@example.com