The news came down Tuesday of another Independent Baseball team going out of business.
This one is the New Haven County Cutters here in Connecticut, a member of the Can-Am League, and it hit home because I was one of the early people encouraging the league (it was the Northeast at the time) and Owner Jonathan Fleisig that New Haven should be a good location.
Greater New Haven had a baseball history along with an acceptable stadium known as "historic" Yale Field. It is historic because of its early days when Yale University was a collegiate power, since legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and the first President Bush played within the edifice and for 10 years before the Cutters it was home to the Class AA New Haven Ravens.
While I have not been active with the Cutters for about a year now, I did quite a lot of consulting on various subjects and even handled player acquisitions for a couple of seasons. So, it hurts to see the organization have to give up.
If only the public could understand the depth of the effort to make this work in a community that has anything but a good track record of supporting local professional teams. Ownership poured so much money into the four years, literally millions of dollars. The leadership also tried so many different tactics. And the staff hours, so many of them. Morning, afternoon and late night. The only good thing for the staff is every one of them have youth on their side; they will have another chance, and will have the value of this experience to help guide them.
Am I surprised at the failure? Somewhat, especially the timing. But I learned a long time ago you need business, political and media support, in addition to a fan base, to make a baseball team work. The business leaders and the local media need to look at themselves in the mirror, if they care at all about analyzing why teams cannot make it in their community. I mean they need to stand in front of the mirror for some time, and give the subject serious thought. Yale University, always vital in Greater New Haven, stepped up at various times, and the politicians may have been getting the message at the end. Much too late, of course.
What is Greater New Haven and its family base losing? The paragraph below, taken from the Cutters' letter to their supporters Tuesday, says it so well.
"We will miss the happy looks on the faces of fans, young and old alike, Tripper’s antics, children running the bases and seeking player autographs, 30 Seconds of Mayhem, group picnics in the pavilion, between-inning skits involving fans, shouts of joy from the Fun Zone, Derrick Gibson hitting a moon shot over the trees beyond the left field fence, Saturday night fireworks, smells from Joe Grate’s BBQ, Irish Night, Thirsty Thursday’s, concerts and star entertainers, the classic beauty of Yale Field, reading in the classroom, School Day, youth camps and clinics, community appearances, and helping raise money for worthy causes."
An opportunity missed, by an area that could use a local professional sports team to get behind. Maybe those who could have helped will understand someday. Maybe.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
THIS FAILURE BITES
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.