Pittsfield Suns set to get new rival, as Futures League adds team in Westfield
The cities of Pittsfield and Westfield have long been joined at the hip in baseball circles. This summer, the two cities will renew their historic rivalries in the Futures League.
The League announced on Wednesday that Westfield will join the summer baseball loop to restore the league to eight teams.
"They are a natural rival," Westfield franchise co-owner Donnie Moorhouse said in an interview. "It starts in Little League. It certainly goes to Babe Ruth [Baseball], and you can even include American Legion Baseball. I can't tell you how many trips we've taken to Pittsfield with my boys, and how many really important games have been played here in Westfield against Pittsfield.
"We're trying to stoke that a little bit with the Pittsfield Suns."
Moorhouse and Christopher Thompson are the owners of the 2019 expansion team. Both have extensive marketing experience, and for a time, both worked for the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. Thompson spent 11 seasons with the Falcons and was the senior vice president of Sales and Strategy for the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds in the 2015-16 season. He now runs his own marketing firm.
Moorhouse is currently the radio voice of the University of Massachusetts hockey team.
And as it turns out, this is the final major piece of commissioner Chris Hall's Futures League puzzle. The only commissioner the league has ever known, has stepped aside from his day-to-day role of running the Futures League. He will continue to consult the league and its teams.
"This was kind of a goal we had. Over the summer, he resigned from the Thunderbirds, showed up at my office and said 'Okay, what's next?'" Moorhouse said. "This is what's next."
Moorhouse said that it took one phone call from Thompson to Hall to get this process rolling.
"Chris Thompson actually says it's the best cold call he ever made in his life," Moorhouse said. "He called Chris Hall and said this is who we are, this is what we'd like to do and it started the process."
The Westfield team will hold a press conference in February, announcing a team name and a logo.
"We really identified the Futures League as a great fit," Moorhouse said. "Not only for us, but Westfield is a great fit for the Futures League as well. It's smack in the middle of their footprint. It creates a great travel arrangement — down to Bristol is 30 minutes, up to Pittsfield for us is 35 minutes, Worcester is 30 minutes. It's a great league for us to be in, and the ownership of the franchises are top notch.
"We've had a great time kind of learning with them and through them."
Among the items still to be finalized are a roster for 2019, a coaching staff and a place to play. Moorhouse said that Bullens Field in Westfield or the baseball facility at Westfield State are both possibilities.
Moorhouse's son Evan, who played four years of baseball and hockey at Westfield State, has been working to put a roster together. Evan Moorhouse's fulltime job is as director of Hockey Operations for the University of Vermont's women's hockey team.
"We've kind of tapped him, based on he's got a really good resume, not only in baseball, but in college athletics," Donnie Moorhouse said. "He's put together a pretty interesting roster already. He continues to work on it when he can."
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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