Thanks for the distraction New Britain

While Connecticut is entailed in political corruption, deficits, Second Amendment killing laws and its worse governor ever in Dan Malloy, leave it to New Britain to provide the latest distraction for the state’s zombie population…its minor league baseball team The Rock Cats, the Double-A minor league baseball affiliate of the Minnesota Twins (A Minnesota baseball team in CT?  ONLY HERE!), is moving to the big town…as in Hartford.

To be honest I have heard of this team through watching reports in the state media here…mainly scores.  According to the Wikipedia about them, they began in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where they were a Boston Red Sox Double-A affiliate from 1965 to 1969 (makes sense). The team then went to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1970 for three years before moving up to its present Triple-A status (The PawSox as they are called).  The same year, 1973, the BoSox moved their double-A franchise to Bristol, playing at Muzzy Field for ten seasons from 1973 to 1982. The following season, owner Joe Buzas moved the team to New Britain. Then known as the New Britain Red Sox, the team played its home games at Beehive Field, located next to the current stadium.  It seemed the team ran afoul of Red Sox brass.

As Beehive Field became outdated and new facilities began to pop up in other cities around the league, Buzas was faced with the choice of staying in New Britain and building a new stadium, versus moving the franchise again. The Red Sox front office, led by Dan Duquette supported the idea of moving to Springfield, Massachusetts, because it was closer to their fan base and closer to the Western Massachusetts home of Duquette. Ultimately, however, in August 1994, Buzas decided to keep the franchise in New Britain. The Red Sox promptly pulled their affiliation and instead chose to affiliate with the Trenton Thunder in the capital city of New Jersey, which was actually farther away from the fan base. For the 1995 season, Buzas, who owned the Salt Lake Buzz (Minnesota triple A), signed a new development agreement with the Minnesota Twins, and this affiliation has continued since. During the 1995 season (their only season in Beehive Field), the team was known as the Hardware City Rock Cats, a reference to New Britain’s nickname “The Hardware City”. The current ballpark, New Britain Stadium, opened in 1996. The team name changed to the current “New Britain” Rock Cats in 1997. Stanley Works continues to be a significant sponsor of the team and ballpark.

Now there is a connection to the Cats former big brother…Rock Cats radio play-by-play voice Jeff Dooley is the brother-in-law of NESN’s Don Orsillo.  Wonder if Dooley can go into fits of hysterics like his famous bro-in-law can?  Another time another day for that one.

Among the alumni of the team…and it includes some big names…

  • Outfielder Torii Hunter (1996–98)
  • Third baseman Corey Koskie (1997)
  • Designated hitter David Ortiz (1997 and 2001)
  • First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz (1997–98)
  • Catcher A.J. Pierzynski (1998 and 2000)
  • Outfielder Michael Cuddyer (2000–01)
  • Pitcher Juan Rincón (2000–01)
  • First baseman Justin Morneau (2001–03)
  • Catcher Joe Mauer (2003)
  • Pitcher Pat Neshek (2003–05)
  • Pitcher Francisco Liriano (2004–05)
  • Third baseman Danny Valencia (2008)
  • Third baseman Yangervis Solarte (2010-2011)

Many of these players have gone on to the Twins at one point in their career (Hunter, Mientkiewicz, Mauer, Ortiz [now an icon with the Red Sox] or are playing for the Yankees, like Solarte.

OK, so now that you know about the team, what will this cost? Well there is going to be a 10,000-seat new stadium in downtown for $60 million, all done on a 25-year lease. The stadium is set for Main Street, just north of Hartford’s downtown, near the intersection of I-91 and I-84.  The mission was obvious according to Hartford Democrat Mayor Pedro Segarra.  According to the Boston Globe  ‘‘This team transfer is intended to prevent the Rock Cats from leaving the state of Connecticut.’’

Kind of like being in the bush leagues in terms of state economies.

Segarra claimed the new ball park would create 600 full-time jobs and 900 construction jobs, while generating about $2 million in annual revenue for Hartford.  All of which are pun intended ballpark figures.

So while New Britain loses 600 jobs, Hartford gains 600 jobs…it all seems awash to me in a state whose jobless rate is 6.9% and many people are looking to move out of this state (the writer among them) because no jobs can be found in what they want to do or because they have some kind of disability which stops them from having that job.

And not to mention, there is a matter of traffic running through downtown Hartford.  Look for me traffic in GREENWICH let alone Stamford is bad enough.  It must be blood pressure city up there.

I always ask this about big spending projects…just where will the money come from Senor Segarra, Auntie Janet and the central bank called the Federal Reserve?

This will be another strikeout for Connecticut.  Life for me at least has been far too hardball.  I just might be voting with my feet…NORTH TO NEW HAMPSHIRE!  At least in Manchester, it’s the number one place to look for employment.


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