Pittsfield's Wahconah Park has hosted baseball games since 1892. This weekend commences the second season for its current team, the Pittsfield Suns, with home games on Thursday and Friday, followed by road games in Torrington, Connecticut, and Leominster, Massachusetts. Tonight's home opener features a fireworks show, and tomorrow night's game is against two-time defending champions the Nashua (New Hampshire) Silver Knights. All of which is good reason to spend some time this weekend, as well as all summer, at Wahconah's legendary dirt diamond in the Berkshires.
The Pittsfield Suns are one of nine teams in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL), which feature “elite collegiate athletes competing in a minor league style format,” the league’s website reads. Each team plays fifty-four games over nine weeks, with the season running from early June though early August. “The League Championship is determined by a playoff immediately after the season ends … Top players will be scouted and selected in the [Major League Baseball] MLB Draft.”
Teams in the FCBL are based throughout New England, and include the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, the North Shore (Lynn, Massachusetts) Navigators, New Hampshire's Seacoast Mavericks, and the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide, on the coast of Maine. The league is similar to the Cape Cod Baseball League, and other Summer Collegiate Leagues like the Alaskan Baseball League (midnight sun baseball, anyone?), whereby players have already completed at least one year at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) level, and have at least one year of eligibility remaining.
As today's article in the Berkshire Eagle notes, last summer, the Pittsfield Suns drew the second-highest league attendance to the blessedly creeky old-school wooded grandstands at Wahconah Park, and this year's increased sponsorships have the team looking to expand upon last season's success.
I managed to get out there two summers ago, after reading and thoroughly enjoying Jim Bouton's part memoir/part political manifesto against publicly funded stadiums Foul Ball: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark, and have been looking forward to returning to legendary Wahconah Park ever since.
First pitch tonight at 7. For more info on tickets, click here.