By Paul Gotham
ROCHESTER, NY – When the New York Collegiate Baseball League opens the 2014 season, it will welcome two new organizations.
The Cortland Crush and Genesee Rapids will join the lineup as the NYCBL increases to 13 teams.
“We welcome new franchises from Houghton, NY (Genesee Rapids) and Cortland, NY,” said NYCBL League President Stan Lehman. “Both Ralph Kerr (Genesee Rapids) and Bill McConnell (Cortland Crush) have invested significant time and energy preparing for their 2014 inaugural seasons. Venues are set and recruiting is underway. All that is left is to hear the magical words, Play Ball!”
Cortland will call Beaudry Field home while Genesee will occupy the diamond at the new Kerr-Pegula Complex on the campus of Houghton College.
The idea to found an NYCBL organization started for Kerr as he and his wife followed their grandson, Michael Kerr, while he played for the Niagara Power.
“We were impressed with the level of play and enthusiasm around the league,” Kerr said recently by phone. “We thought it would be great if we could take advantage of the brand-new baseball facilities at Houghton College and have a team in the league from this area.”
McConnell knows well of the NYCBL. As a player in the late 70s, he spent time in the New York State League, a predecessor to the Northeast Baseball League and eventually the NYCBL.
“The league makes it possible to bring in quality players to work with knowledgeable coaching staffs,” McConnell commented by phone. “The NYCBL is integral in the fact that it has the widespread communities involved which allows the league to sustain its growth.”
Along with putting together their coaching staffs and volunteer groups responsible for the daily operations of their teams, both organizations have started the process of filling out a roster.
“The league has a great reputation,” Kerr noted. “It’s word of mouth from the young men who played in the league previously.”
“It (the NYCBL) is well recognized outside the reaches of New York State,” McConnell added. “The possibility of the scouting service to see the talent spread across the state is integral.”
Cortland has a rich NYCBL history including a league championship as the Cortland Apples in 1982, and its nickname honors that team and its manager. A forthcoming story will explain the connection.
With the addition of two new teams, the NYCBL will return to divisional play. After more than a decade with multiple divisions, all 11 teams competed for one regular season title in 2013. The 2014 schedule with accompanying divisional alignments will be announced in the coming months.
Oneonta’s Outlaws claimed the 2013 NYCBL title sweeping the Hornell Dodgers in the best of three championship series.
When teams start play next June, the NYCBL will begin its 37th season. Founded in 1978, the NYCBL is a summer wood bat developmental league for professional baseball. As it has in the past, the league will hold its annual MLB Scout Day prior to the league All-Star Game.
This past season’s All-Star Game honored Roberto’s Kids and The Second Impact as the NYCBL divided into two teams representing these organizations.
Founded by Oneonta Outlaws president and general manager, Steve Pindar, Roberto’s Kids strives to develop social responsibility through baseball. Named after MLB Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente, Roberto’s Kids works to provide equipment to needy children throughout North and Central America. With the endorsement of the Clemente family, Roberto’s Kids has overseen numerous drives and collections since 1999.
The Second Impact is dedicated to increasing the awareness of the risks involved with double impact brain injuries. Geneva Red Wings and Twins strength and conditioning coach, Ray Ciancaglini, a former prize fighter, founded The Second Impact after he was diagnosed with Dementia Pugilistica – a neurological disorder common among career boxers and others who receive numerous blows to the head. Good Morning America did a feature on Ciancaglini.
The NYCBL is part of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball (NACSB) which oversees the rules and policies of ten different summer leagues: the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, Cape Cod Baseball League, Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, Florida Collegiate Summer League, Great Lakes Collegiate Summer League, New England Collegiate Baseball League, Southern Collegiate Baseball League, Sunbelt Baseball League, and the Valley League Baseball.
These ten leagues provide a variety of competition levels that help prepare young players for life in professional baseball. One in every six Major League players has spent at least one summer playing in the Cape Cod League.