Jeff Goldklang will be the owner of Pittsfield's next baseball team.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There will be baseball at Wahconah Park next year.
The Park Commission approved Tuesday night the Goldklang Group's pitch to form a new team in the newly created Futures Collegiate League, a wooden bat league. The group will now negotiate a lease agreement with the city for the park's usage.
"We believe Pittsfield has a fantastic baseball market," Jeff Goldklang, managing director, said and added that the team has positioned itself to hire a staff in the next few weeks. "We're going to start tomorrow."
The park's future team came down to either Goldklang or Rick Johansen, who proposed purchasing the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide, in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and relocating it to the city. However, the Goldklang Group's experience seemed to push the commissioners over the edge.
The finances nearly matched between the two clubs, a point commissioners emphasized during discussions with the teams because the city has not gotten paid in the past. The decision came down to the team's merits.
Johansen's proposed Pittsfield Panthers had the benefit of joining an established 12-team league. However, Johansen's group lacked experience running a baseball team, thought the commissioners. Goldklang is joining the Futures Collegiate League, a five-team league established in 2010, as an expansion but the group currently manages four teams, one independent league and three affiliated with Major League Baseball. The Goldklang Group has consulted for teams on all levels.
"I'm really down the middle ... at this point, it feels a little like a beauty contest," Parks Commissioner Simon Muil said.
The vote was unanimous but the discussion before the vote was split. With the majority in favor of Goldklang, the Panthers' supporters changed their vote to show support for the team that ultimately will call historic Wahconah Park home.
After the meeting, Johansen was not upset with the decision and congratulated Goldklang. Johansen said he initially began pitching the team because he grew up watching baseball at the park and did not want the city to go without a team. Now that there will be baseball, Johansen said he is hopeful that Goldklang will be successful.
"When I entered there was no other team," Johansen said. "The good news is that I don't have to spend the money to purchase the team."
Now forking out the money falls to Goldklang, who is embracing the challenge of playing in a city that has seen its fair share of baseball teams fail. Goldklang is prepared to invest a lot in the new organization.
"Our budget is going to be in excess of the Colonials," Goldklang said. "It certainly will be significant and very high for a collegiate league team."
The expansion team will be the sixth team in the Futures League that spans only three states and was developed by owners of professional-affiliated teams. With teams in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, the league mandates that at least half of the roster is comprised of athletes from New England.
The new team does not have a name yet but Goldklang said the city's residents will likely choose the name.
UNICO Inducts Five Into County Baseball, Softball Hall
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff
Johnny Walker expressed his thanks to a packed Itam Lodge on Friday night when he was inducted into the Berkshire County Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — UNICO inducted five athletic stars into its Berkshire County Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame on Friday night.
Tom Bowler, Tim Kearns, Mike Quadrozzi, Lynn Stockley and Johnny Walker make up the 2011 induction class.
Quadrozzi was the ace pitcher for Taconic High School in his senior year in 1975, when he led the team to a 19-3 record. During his playing days, he led his team to two consecutive Division 1 tournaments. He played American Legion Baseball and in 1976 pitched a no-hitter against Lenoxdale.
From there, Quadrozzi went on to North Adams State College, where he led the college to two NCAA tournaments and led the conference in his sophomore year with a 1.43 ERA. In all levels, Quadrozzi ended with 38 wins and 13 loses and never had an ERA more than 3.0.
Kearns' was setting city records at 12 years old when he hit three home runs and eight RBIs in a Little League game. He led the league with a .610 batting average and hit a city record of 18 home runs.
In Babe Ruth, Kearns hit .444 before opting to play American Legion ball. When he got to high school, he took the reins as St. Joseph High School's centerfielder. He hit .515 in his senior year and was named All-Berkshire County three times and was on the 1971 state champion team.
Bowler was on Taconic High School's 1976 and 1977 Western Massachusetts championship teams. He had a high school career average of .332 with 43 stolen bases and 48 runs scored and was winner of the Sportsmanship Award in 1978.
He played American Legion baseball and won a Western Massachusetts title there. He went to college at the American International College and won the conference championship in 1979. After school, he turned to coaching and has coached at the little league, Babe Ruth and legion levels.
Stockley is the 1982 Berkshire County Athlete of the Year. She boasts legendary stats in her high school softball career including 4 no-hitters. The 1982 graduate of Taconic had a 17-2 record her senior year and went on to accept a full athletic scholarship to play at the University of Massachusetts.
At UMass, she helped the team win the Atlantic 10 championship and NCAA regionals in 1986. That year, she had a 20-3 record with a .80 ERA.
Walker was a pitcher and shortstop for Lee High School and pitched the team to the Western Massachusetts championship in 1969. Walker pitched three no-hitters — one being a perfect game. He received the Sportsmanship Award in 1969 as well as the Berkshire County Athlete of the Year.
Walker also went into coaching and has coached Little League and high school baseball.
Wahconah Park Seeking Tenant For 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Single mature ballpark seeks outgoing professional baseball team.
The city's Parks Commission is now accepting applications from professional baseball teams to play at Wahconah Park for the 2012 season with the possibility of a long-term relationship.
The 92-year-old park had just recently divorced from a two-year marriage with the Pittsfield Colonials after the couple constantly fought over finances. The park enjoys basking in sun-delays and taking long boat rides when it rains. The ideal team should be able to pitch well and round the bases quickly in front of a large crowd.
Interested prospects can contact James McGrath, the city's natural resources manager, at 413-499-9344 or at email@example.com. Submission deadline is Nov. 10.
Frank Grant Honored By Pittsfield Colonials
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Ulysses Frank Grant was on the edge of being forgotten in history but now, his memory is instilled on the outfield wall of Wahconah Park.
The Pittsfield Colonials honored the Hall of Famer Friday by hanging the logo of his team – the New York Cuban Giants, of the former Negro leagues – on the walls. While the team would liked to have retired his number, he never wore one.
Team owner Buddy Lewis presented Grant's great-grand niece Marion Grant Royston, who lives in Williamstown, with a team jersey and cap and read an honorary citation from Gov. Deval Patrick, who was expected to throw out the game's first pitch but was unable to.
Grant was born in the city in 1885 and later moved to Williamstown. He made it into the minor league system before Jim Crow laws led him to the Negro league. With the Giants, he continued to play a high level of baseball until he retired in 1903. When he died he was buried in an unmarked New York City grave.
Overmyer and baseball historian Lawrence Moore discussed the growth of Negro league baseball, which Grant played a role in promoting. The ceremony was a tribute to the Negro leagues that is coupled with the Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival.
Pittsfield Colonials Sign Former Major Leaguer
By Andy McKeever
Colonials owner Buddy Lewis and manager Jamie Keefe pose for photos at Wahconah Park with newly signed Pittsfield resident Chad Paronto and his children.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After pitching seven season in the major leagues, Chad Paronto is coming home.
The 35-year-old city resident signed a contract with the Pittsfield Colonials in dual roles as pitching coach and starter.
Despite having been invited to spring training by multiple professional clubs, Paronto decided to hang up his professional career to be closer to his family.
"I know that I can pitch in the big leagues but that's the least of my concerns," Paronto said at a press conference Friday. "I chose to retire for my family."
Last season, Paronto led the Pawtucket Red Sox in appearances with 54 and posted a 4.22 ERA out of the bullpen. But at the end of the year, he said he began thinking of retiring in order to spend more time with his children.
When Colonials manager Jamie Keefe found that out in January, he jumped at the opportunity to bring him in as a coach. The two reached a deal earlier this week.
"I know Chad wants to be able to help the younger players," Keefe said.
Paronto moved to the city 15 years ago when he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1996. He got his first crack in the show in 2001 when he posted a 5.00 ERA in 24 games. He then went to the Cleveland Indians for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He spent the following two seasons in the minors before getting back to the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves.
With the Braves, he posed a 3.18 ERA in 11 appearances in 2006 and a 3.57 ERA in 12 appearances in 2007. He then pitched for the Houston Astros for two years before signing with the Red Sox.
"I could have gone back to the Red Sox but I chose not to," Paronto said. "I was most excited about the coaching aspect."
The team is comprised of players who could play in the upper levels in the next few years, Keefe said, and Paronto is looked at to be the mentor and leader.
"We want to win a championship. We want to win it for the city," team owner Buddy Lewis said. "Chad brings the leadership to get that championship."
He will be used mostly as a coach but will also be part of the starting rotation.
"I've got plenty of bullets left," Paronto said.
Paronto pitched in 177 professional games going 6-12 with a 4.32 ERA in 183.1 innings. He struck out 107 batters and walked 66. With the bat, he got three professional plate appearances and stuck out all three times.
The colonials open the season at home on May 26. Keefe said there are three roster spots left to be filled.
"We look forward to a real exciting baseball season," Mayor James Ruberto said.