By Steve Krause / The Daily Item
LYNN - Fans who feel the void left by the departure of the North Shore Spirit may soon have a new team to follow.
The New England Collegiate Baseball League - which consists of players culled from various college teams around the country - is on the verge of agreeing to move its Holyoke franchise to Lynn in time for next season, Mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr. said Thursday.
The new team could be officially approved Tuesday, if the Lynn Stadium Commission votes in favor of the proposed lease, Clancy said. The New England league, Clancy says, is analogous to the Cape Cod League, which is a wood-bat league consisting of the most promising college players in the country. The Cape Cod League was the subject of the movie "Summer Catch" a few years ago. Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan is a graduate of the New England Collegiate League.
Clancy said the lease compares with the one the city gave the Spirit: $1 from June 1 through Sept. 30.
"We're not in this to make a dime," he said. "We want to have the facility used, and kept in pristine condition, and be available for a people to go out and have nice, affordable family entertainment."
That was the Spirit's objective too. And Clancy said that the city's experience with the Spirit and its owner, Nick Lopardo, is one of the reasons that the NECBL and Holyoke owner Phil Rosenfield, a Swampscott native, were so anxious to enter the Lynn market.
"The Spirit's presence, and what Nick did, and what the city did in partnership, speaks volumes about the marketability of Fraser Field," Clancy said. "Fraser Field has been deemed a safe, family-friendly location for sporting events for people and families all summer long."
Rosenfield said he thought of Lynn immediately after the Spirit left. "First," he said, "I'm from here. I know Fraser Field and what kind of a place it is. And I go way back. Lynn always was a great baseball town. Second, it's a lot closer to where I work in Woburn (as the owner of J.M. Phillips Glass). And third, that is an absolutely gorgeous field."
Moreover, he said, Lynn is the type of community that might attract college-age kids. "It's on the waterfront, and I think there are a lot of attractions for the players we have."
The NECBL operates a lot like the Cape League. Families house players and the teams attempt to get them jobs in the community. "That's actually the hardest part of the operation," Rosenfield said. "Getting the kid situated is very challenging."
But, he says, it also makes them more of a part of the community, "and that's one way to get the whole community involved."
Games for the NECBL begin in early June and end around Aug. 1, Rosenfield said, with playoffs to follow. The league plays a 42-game schedule, split evenly home and away.
Like the Spirit, the NECBL team will have first rights to scheduling, which Rosenfield feels is necessary "because we're in an organized league, and we have to have a schedule in place, as we have teams from (all over New England) coming in. It won't be quite as intense, though," Clancy said, noting that the new team will play only half as many games as the Spirit did, and end a month sooner. "So if there's a chance we can get some other games in there, we might be able to.
"We're very pleased that someone is going to come forward and fill the void that the Spirit left," Clancy said. "And we'll all go forward, hopefully
Well.....I told you guys I heard rumblings. What do you guys think about this?
And will you go to the games if they come in?
I think that this is a good thing for the city. For one,the field will have upkeep and be in use regularly.
Another thing is that it.liek the Spirit,promotes the city in a positive light.
And if this team comes in,I'll be sure to both attend games and try to help this franchise with video things much like I did with the Spirit--but hopefully moreso.