NORTH ADAMS — Ten years ago, North Adams SteepleCats third baseman Ozzie Burrell hit one home run in his season at Joe Wolfe Field. It happened to come in the 2007 NECBL All-Star Game.
History may repeat itself next summer, as the NECBL has awarded the city and the SteepleCats the honor of hosting the summer college league's annual All-Star Game for 2017. The date will be determined after league meetings this fall.
"I think the team is very excited. The organization is very excited," SteepleCats president Dan Bosley said. "We're the smallest franchise in the league, and it gives us an opportunity to showcase not just the team, but also the area and this field.
"Over the past three or four years, we have worked very hard to improve this field and make it one of the most beautiful fields, in my opinion, in the NECBL."
The 2016 All-Star Game was played back on July 17 in Newport, R.I., with the game ending in a Major League Baseball-style 8-8 tie. The South All-Stars had rallied from an 8-1 deficit to score the win.
Daniel Holst of North Adams was 2 for 2 in that game.
"[General manager Jonah Bayliss] and I were talking about it and it was 10 years. It's the 30th anniversary of the rededication of this field as Joe Wolfe Field," said Bosley. "We're just coming off our 15th year [in the NECBL]. It's something that just made sense for us to do something now."
NECBL commissioner Sean McGrath, a former NECBL player and the former general manager of the SteepleCats, said the league is excited to have the game back at Joe Wolfe Field.
"I couldn't be happier after 10 years," said McGrath. "It is near and dear to [former North Adams team president] John [DeRosa] and our and the organization's heart. We had an amazing experience.
"It was a great way to showcase the organization, the ballpark and the city to fans from all around New England."
This year's All-Star Game was a two-day affair, with a Saturday night reception and a Sunday full of activities from the All-Stars and other selected players running for scouts, and a home run derby before the game.
McGrath said that what North Adams team officials plan for the event, aside from the game, is up to them.
"We want to do some things that make some sense," said Bosley. "It depends on how much money we raise next year to do things. We'd like to do some things for the fans the night before."
Bosley said that he'd like to showcase some of the North Adams-area dining establishments as part of the weekend festivities.
"It'll be really nice once again to bring everyone out Berkshire County next summer," said McGrath.
A look back
In 2007, Newport's Matt Vance was the game's most valuable player. A number of players in that game have made it to the big leagues. First and foremost was pitcher Steven Strasburg. Strasburg was the closer for the Torrington Twisters, and while he wasn't well known in the public, his resume and his 100 MPH fastball traveled well from San Diego State.
He wasn't the only future major leaguer who played in that game at Joe Wolfe. Southern Division starting catcher Ryan Lavarnway and outfielder Alex Hassan were both Boston Red Sox players. Lavarnway had a longer stint than Hassan, who played for the Pittsfield Dukes, had. Hassan played three games in Boston.
South pitcher Adam Wilk spent two years with the Detroit Tigers and one with the Los Angeles Angels, while Steve Geltz of the Northern Division team started his big league career with the Angels, and has been with Tampa Bay since 2014.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.