Howard Herman: Proven wrong by the Suns
When it comes to summer baseball in Pittsfield, I was wrong.
Two years ago, I wrote in this space that a proposed NECBL team for Pittsfield was the way to go. The Goldklang Group and the Pittsfield Suns have proven me incorrect.
Being wrong isn’t rare for me; just ask my wife or my kids.
But in November 2011, when there were two distinct proposals for returning college league baseball to Wahconah Park, I thought that while the city couldn’t lose with either plan, returning an NECBL team to Wahconah Street was the right way to go.
I believed that having local people involved with the re-establishment of an NECBL team would encourage local fans to visit Wahconah Park. I also believed that playing the North Adams SteepleCats a set number of times would encourage fans to come to Wahconah Park. That part of my theory will forever be untested.
In two years, the Goldklang Group more than changed my mind. And they have seemingly done a lot to change the minds of people in central and southern Berkshire County.
Back in 2011, I wrote that Pittsfield wasn’t radioactive when it came to baseball, but it was going to take a lot to heal the wounds of previous seasons.
Suns general manager Kevin McGuire once told me that in the baseball industry, Pittsfield had been considered a dead market after the failure of the Pittsfield Colonials. It is anything but that now.
In their first season, the Suns averaged more than 1,000 fans per game and were near the top of the Futures League rankings. Again this summer, the Suns averaged more than 1,000 fans per game.
In fact, out of 178 listed summer college league baseball teams, the Suns were 41st in the nation in average attendance. According to the site BallparkDigest.com, the Suns averaged 1,240 fans compared to 1,344 a year ago. But the Suns had only 23 home dates listed and were down by 0.08 percent.
This was a rocky summer for the Pittsfield Suns. Extended early-season rains led to postponements, unscheduled doubleheaders and that infamous game when nobody was allowed in to watch because of the creeping flood waters from the Housatonic River.
In two years, the Suns have planted baseball roots that have gone deeper than any since the arrival of the Pittsfield Mets in 1989 and 1990.
Ask any of the youngsters who got their parents to take them to the park this summer if it was fun. The answer -- if you base it on observation of the kids’ behavior -- is yes.
Nothing is perfect, and the Suns weren’t perfect, either.
I’m sure that if they had to do it over again, the fireworks display after a doubleheader and a rain delay would have been postponed. Even I heard them, and I live at almost the opposite end of the city from the ballpark.
On the field, the team made the playoffs, but didn’t go far. The Suns were competitive on the field and entertaining off the field.
Sometimes, it’s all right to be wrong.
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.