By MICHAEL LETENDRE
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The New England Collegiate Baseball League is once again going to have a presence in Bristol.
The league, for the second consecutive season, is growing again and the Bristol Blues – who competed in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League over the past few years – will play under the NECBL banner this coming summer as an expansion team according to league commissioner Sean McGrath.
The announcement was made on Thursday, Nov. 7 and had been rumored in the works for quite some time.
In 2019, Martha’s Vineyard joined the New England League and now, the Blues make up part of that mix as well.
Bristol is going to compete in the Southern Division along with the Valley Blue Sox, Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, Newport Gulls, Ocean State Waves and the other two Connecticut entries: the Danbury Westerners and Mystic Sooners – the squad that originally played in Bristol as the Bristol Collegiate Baseball Club before moving to the shoreline.
The Westerners and Schooners are two of the oldest squads in the league.
In the Northern Division, the Keene Swamp Bats, North Adams Steeplecats, Winnipesaukee Muskrats, Upper Valley Nighthawks, Vermont Mountaineers, and Sanford Mainers means the NECBL has 13 programs competing this summer.
Of course, the Blues will continue to play their home games at Muzzy Field which – once again – is one of the premier venues in all the league.
“The NECBL is comprised of 13 scenic communities in New England which all share a passion for baseball and their hometown team,” said McGrath. “What makes them all special are the fan bases and individuals who lead these organizations. The Blues organization has done a tremendous job through the years at integrating the team in their community, and we look forward to bringing some of the best college players in the country to Bristol.”
The NECBL is a wood-bat league.
The Blues are the third squad from Bristol to compete under the NECBL banner since the mid-1990s.
The Bristol Nighthawks, which included former Bristol Eastern baseball standout Wenzel Walker, played under the NECBL banner from 1994-95 while the Bristol Collegiate Baseball Club, under head coach Patrick Hall, competed in the Mum City during the summer of 2010 before moving to Mystic.
The Blues, obviously, will have a bit of a different schedule than last year.
With the league at 13 teams, a 44-game schedule will see several competitive games between teams from all over New England.
For information on the Bristol Blues and the NECBL, go to BristolBluesBaseball.com.
NOTES…In a move by the Futures League, the New Britain Bees made a switch as well – leaving independent baseball…The Bees competed in the Atlantic League last year and in 2020, the squad will continue to call New Britain Stadium home and compete under the Futures Collegiate Baseball League banner, keeping the Future League team line-up at seven.