New England Collegiate Baseball League

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New England Collegiate Baseball League

The New England Collegiate Baseball League is summer collegiate baseball at its best! It is one of the most talented and competitive leagues in the country.

Founded in 1993, the NECBL began its direction under George Foster, former Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets All-Star and Major League home run leader and league founder Emmy Award-winning television producer/director Joseph Consentino. Play started in 1994 and today the NECBL has become a strong twelve team league that plays in all six New England states and recruits players attending U.S colleges from New England, the other forty-four States and foreign countries.

The League starts its summer season in early June and plays an eight week 42 game per team schedule. The League Championship is determined by a playoff in early August. Each year our top players are scouted and selected in the MLB Draft.

Any student who wishes to play in our League must be currently enrolled in a NCAA sanctioned College or University, be in good academic standing, have completed one year of athletic eligibility and have at least one year of eligibility remaining. The league strongly suggests that student athletes have their College coach and/or a MLB scout recommend them to any or all of our General Managers. Their phone numbers and email addresses can be found at their team¹s pages.

A Brief History of the New England Collegiate Baseball League

The New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) was conceived in early 1993 by Emmy Award winning television producer/director Joseph Consentino who dreamed of forming a summer collegiate league to bridge the gap between the New York based Atlantic Collegiate League and the Cape Cod League. The goal also was to give student athletes who lived and/or went to school in New England a better chance to have their talents recognized by major league scouts.

Despite initial skepticism, several groups and towns were attracted as well as a number of area professional scouts. The concept was solidified when former Major League superstar George Foster signed on to be the League’s first Commissioner and ESPN Senior Vice President Loren Matthews agreed to become the first NECBL President.

The League enjoyed immediate success. The Eastern Tides, from Willimantic, CT, won the first League Championship in 1994 from a field of five Connecticut teams that included the Bristol Nighthawks, Fairfield Stallions, Middletown Giants and Waterbury White Sox.

Fairfield’s shortstop Joe Nathan, from Stony Brook College, went on to be the first NECBL alum to make the Majors and is presently the closer for the Minnesota Twins.

In 1995 the Fairfield owners went on to form an independent league and two new teams joined. The Central Mass Collegians and Danbury Westerners immediately made their presence felt. Central Mass won the 1995 League Championship while the Westerners unveiled an organization that became the model and set the standard for future NECBL teams. The Waterbury White Sox became the Barons. Joel Cooney was elected President and led a successful delegation to the ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Assoc.) in Nashville, TN which applied for and received NCAA sanctioning and MLB financial support.

The debut of the third New England State to field a NECBL team came in 1996 when the Rhode Island Reds joined the league. On the field it was a repeat of the previous year with the Central Mass Collegians winning the League Championship.

1997 featured the addition of the Torrington (CT) Twisters who pleasantly surprised everyone in the league with their tremendous fan support, beginning with an unprecedented home opener attendance of over 3,000 enthusiastic fans. The Twisters won the regular season title before being bested by the Middletown Giants in a dramatic, hard-fought championship series. In late 1997, the NECBL drew national attention with the announcement that Fay Vincent, Jr., former Major League Baseball Commissioner, was taking over as League President and Chairman of the Board. Joel Cooney became the Commissioner.

1998 featured the fourth New England state, New Hampshire, throwing their hat into the NECBL ring with the advent of the Keene Swamp Bats. Not to be outdone by last year’s success in Torrington, the Swamp Bats and their fans served notice that they were a serious venture by also drawing over 3,000 fans to opening night and going on to set a league attendance record of over 26,000 for the season. A second team from Rhode Island also joined the League. The Rhode Island Gulls played in Cranston and were in the playoff hunt until the last three days of the season. In late 1998 Lou Gorman, former GM of the Red Sox and Mets became Chairman of the Board of the Gulls. In the Playoffs the Middletown Giants became the second back-to-back champs.

In 1999 the Middletown Giants accomplished a “threepeat” winning the League Championship a third consecutive year and receiving the new Fay Vincent, Sr. Cup. The Championship trophy was named in honor of NECBL President Fay Vincent’s father, a noted sports figure in New England.

The year 2000 saw two new teams join the league, the Mill City All-Americans in Lowell, MA and the Manchester Silkworms in Manchester, CT. The All-Americans made the playoffs their first season. The Silkworms, playing in a brand new facility at Northwest Park, played gamely only to lose 11 one-run games and four two-run games. The All-Star Game in Keene had as an honored guest Carlton Fisk, just days after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. In the playoffs, Keene edged the Gulls 1 to 0, scoring in the 8th inning of the final game. In October 2000 new ownership took over the Reds and the team became the Riverpoint Royals, continuing play in West Warwick, RI.

In 2001 Concord, New Hampshire became the second Granite State town to field a team. The Concord Quarry Dogs made the NECBL a 10 team league divided into two divisions. Their fan support led the league with a season attendance of over 31,000. The Gulls moved from Cranston to Newport beginning play in historic Cardines Field. The Gulls avenged last year’s LCS defeat by beating the Swamp Bats 2 games to 1 and established themselves as the team to beat in the NECBL.

2002 saw the Eastern Tides change their name to the Thread City Tides honoring the local thread industry that once produced the red stitching for baseballs. Massachusetts gained a new team in the heart of the picturesque Berkshire Mountains. The North Adams SteepleCats enjoyed an inaugural winning season. The Sanford Mainers, playing in Goodall Park, where Babe Ruth hit his last home run for the Boston Red Sox, expanded the league to twelve teams and three divisions. Newport defeated Keene for the Championship.

2003 realized the dream of having a team in all six New England states when the Vermont Mountaineers began play in the state capitol, Montpelier. Over 2,400 fans cheered their new team at the Recreation Field home opener where Hall of Famer Robin Roberts once pitched. Keene overcame Torrington to win the Championship. Kevin MacIlvane became the Commissioner.

In 2004, new ownerships moved the Middletown Giants to Holyoke, MA and the Thread City Tides to Western Massachusetts where they became the Berkshire Dukes, named for team owner and former Boston Red Sox GM Dan Duquette. The season culminated in a thrilling playoff series between the Newport Gulls and the Sanford Mainers in front of packed houses in both ballparks. The Mainers prevailed escaping a bases-loaded no outs Gulls bottom of the ninth. The year culminated with a festive celebration as the NECBL honored retiring President Fay Vincent. Bob Costas hosted the affair with such notables as Negro Leagues legend Buck O’Neil, George Foster, Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey among others. Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush made an appearance via a video tribute and current President George W. Bush sent a letter honoring Mr. Vincent.

In 2005 the NECBL settled as a 12-team league with the departure of the Royals. The Dukes became the Pittsfield Dukes as they moved to historic Wahconah Park. The Southern Division All-Stars beat the South 7-2 in front of 2,856 fans from all over New England at Cardines Field in Newport. Keene and Newport won the regular season of the North and South Divisions. The Gulls went on to sweep the Vermont Mountaineers for the 2005 League Championship.

The same 12 teams kicked off the 2006 season, the only change being the All-Americans changing their name from Mill City to Lowell. Tommy John was the honored guest at the All-Star Game in Keene as Swamp Bat Cheyne Hurst led the North Squad to a 6-2 win and was named the first John Watterson All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award winner. The trophy was named after New Hampshire’s “Mr. Baseball.” Vermont and Newport won their divisions but Torrington went on to face the Mountaineers in the Championship Series with Vermont winning its first league title. Former Danbury Westerners’ General Manager Mario Tiani succeeded Kevin MacIlvane as Commissioner.

The league continued its success in 2007 becoming, in its short history, one of the top summer collegiate leagues in the country. USA Baseball continued their annual visit playing NECBL teams in front of large, enthusiastic crowds. Two no-hitters highlighted the season with the biggest day being the 14th Annual All-Star Game in North Adams. Over 4,000 fans watched the South team shut out the North squad 8-0. Holyoke and Torrington won their divisions but it was the second place Mountaineers and Newport Gulls who made it to the Championship Series with Vermont winning their second consecutive championship.

The Concord Quarry Dogs ceased operation at the end of the 2007 season but the NECBL continued as a 12-team league with the Holyoke Giants moving to beautiful Frasier Field in Lynn, Massachusetts and becoming the North Shore Navigators. A new organization came to Holyoke naming the team the Blue Sox. Team USA again toured the league as well as the squad from the People’s Republic of China in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Sanford and Newport won their divisions and met in the Championship Series. Sanford prevailed winning their second NECBL Championship.

The same 12 teams returned in 2009 with the Dukes becoming the Pittsfield American Defenders. A new attendance record was set as the Holyoke Blue Sox hosted the All-Star Game and the host West squad outlasted the East 6-5.

Newport and Keene won their divisions and Newport went on to defeat Vermont in the Championship Series becoming the first four-time champion.

In 2010 two new organizations took over existing teams. The Manchester Silkworms moved to Laconia, NH and the Muskrats played at renovated Robbie Mills Park. Pittsfield became the Bristol Collegiate Club and played at historic Muzzy Field in Bristol, CT. The 2010 All-Star Game took place in Newport and the North Shore Navigators bested the Danbury Westerners winning their first NECBL championship. The NECBL's inaugural Hall of Fame Dinner took place on November 6, 2010. Inducted were LA Dodgers right-fielder Andre Ethier, Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, former Devil Rays and Red Sox reliever Mark Malaska as well as league founder Joseph Consentino and former MLB Commissioner and NECBL President Fay Vincent.

2011 sees moves by two teams. Bristol will relocate in Connecticut as the Mystic Schooners and the Lowell All-Americans wil become the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.