Futures League Team To Call Wahconah Park Home
Jeff Goldklang will be the owner of Pittsfield's next baseball team.
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.
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UNICO Inducts Five Into County Baseball, Softball Hall
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.
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