Pittsfield Suns chosen to host Futures League All-Star Game; host season opener on May 29
PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield will be the center of Futures League baseball in July, as the league announced this week that the city and the Pittsfield Suns will host the 2019 Futures League All-Star Game.
That news came along with the release of the 56-game schedule for the seven-team Futures League.
"We are beyond thrilled," Suns owner Jeff Goldklang said. "This was voted on sometime at the end of summer or early fall, and because we hadn't released our schedule, we weren't permitted to discuss it. We're thrilled and excited to host the Futures League All-Star Game this year."
The All-Star Game will be held at Wahconah Park on July 16, right in the middle of the league's three-day All-Star Break.
When the All-Star Game was played in Pittsfield back in 2013, the players were divided up by Massachusetts vs. New England. The Massachusetts team won 2-0, in front of 3,297 fans at Wahconah Park. Massachusetts scored two runs in the second inning. All-Star Game most valuable player Steve Dill of the Suns had an RBI single, driving in the winning run, and Suns third baseman Frank Crinella plated the insurance run with a sacrifice fly.
"You always like to do things a little bigger and better than what we've done in the past," Goldklang said. "I felt the first All-Star Game was a success. It's a wonderful opportunity. Obviously our fans have the ability to see some really good talent on night-by-night basis. But the All-Star Game is going to bring together all of the most talented individuals."
The announcement of the All-Star Game is one of the highlights in the 2019 Futures League schedule.
The 2019 regular season will open on May 28, but the Suns' season will open one day later. Pittsfield will host Bristol on May 29, in its home and season opener. With seven teams in the league, one team has an off day every day, and Pittsfield is off on the 28th.
The 56-game regular season will end on Aug. 4, with the playoffs to follow. Each of the seven teams in the league, the six returning teams and the expansion club in Westfield, will play 28 games at home and 28 on the road. Westfield replaces Martha's Vineyard in the Futures League lineup. The Sharks, one of the original four Futures League teams, are now in the NECBL.
That leaves the Nashua Silver Knights as the only one of the original four Futures League teams still in the league.
The Suns will be home for two of their first three games this summer. After hosting Bristol on Thursday, May 30, the Suns will travel to Westfield for the new franchise's first-ever home game. The Suns will return home for a Saturday game with Brockton.
"We are" happy with the schedule, said Goldklang when reached at his New Jersey office. "As it stands right now, most weekends, we're going to have either a Friday or Saturday night [at home]. One of our concerns over some of the early years is that there'd be weekends where we'd have Friday-Saturday-Sundays, and then we'd be dark completely the following weekend. Based on the footprint of Pittsfield and the greater Berkshires in the summer, we felt that it was most appropriate and best suited to have a schedule that every weekend, individuals in the Berkshire area will have the opportunity to come to at least one Suns game."
Last year's home games started at 6:30 p.m., with 5 p.m. Sunday starts. Goldklang said that the start times will be determined shortly.
The post-season schedule will be as it was last year. There will be a one-game play-in between the third, fourth, fifth and sixth-place teams. The seventh-place team will not make the playoffs. The winners of the play-in games will meet the top two seeds in best-of-three series. Those winners will also play in a best-of-three series.
One of the major changes to this summer's Futures League schedule is the establishment of home-and-home series. The Suns will play seven home-and-home sets against rival teams. That begins with a home game on June 2 against Westfield, and the Suns will return the favor on June 3.
"We talked about the rivalry aspect of it. Certainly, with a team in Westfield, we would anticipate a somewhat natural rivalry with them as well. From both the travel and a quality-of-play standpoint, we felt that it would be fun to give our fans and the players an opportunity to play kind of mini-series, if you will," Goldklang said, "with some back to backs."
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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