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Summer collegiate baseball to return to Springfield's Forest Park

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno (right) poses for a picture with Westfield Starfires' catcher Cesar Gonzalez during a press conference at Forest Park's Walker Grandstand.
Adam Frenier
/
NEPM
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno (right) poses for a picture with Westfield Starfires' catcher Cesar Gonzalez during a press conference at Forest Park's Walker Grandstand.

Summer collegiate baseball will return to Springfield's Forest Park on June 30 for the second consecutive year.

The Westfield Starfires of the Futures League will play the game against the New Britain Bees. The team is comprised of college players who travel across New England playing a full schedule of games. Last year, the Starfires also played in Springfield and according to team officials, attracted a few thousand fans.

Standing behind home plate of the diamond at the park's Walker Grandstand, Mayor Domenic Sarno reminisced about his playing days on that very field as a youth, and at that very spot, he was a catcher. He said the experience last year was also nostalgic.

"...brings back great memories and it really did remind me last year of Sunday afternoon baseball games we had here at Forest Park," Sarno said.

The Starfires are made up of players from across western Massachusetts and New England.

During a press conference this week, one of the local players, Cesar Gonzalez, a catcher who is heading to Boston College, said he was excited about the opportunity to play in his home town.

The Starfires began play in the Futures League in 2019, which also includes teams in Worcester, Brockton, Norwich, Conn., Burlington, Vermont and Nashua, New Hampshire. The Pittsfield club is not competing this year, citing ongoing structural issues at its stadium, Wahconah Park, as the reason.

The team has served as a proving ground for players looking to make the jump to the next level. Seven former players have been drafted by major league clubs over the course of the Starfires’ history.

While the Starfires will be visiting Springfield for a game again, the franchise has cemented its place in its hometown of Westfield. Last month, it announced a ten-year lease extension with the city to continue playing its home games at Bullens Field.

In addition to the contest at Forest Park, the Starfires players will conduct a youth clinic and there will also be live music.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.