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“Opening Day in baseball is a really big deal,” Anthony Barone, Jamestown Jammers head coach and general manager said, with obvious enthusiasm for the coming season. “That’s just the way it is in baseball. It’s always a great day for fans.”
The first pitch of the 2016 home opener at Jamestown’s historic Diethrick Park will revive an old rivalry dating all the way back to the New York–Penn League days and recently brought back to life against the visiting Newark Pilots from the Finger Lakes District. It all starts at 7:05 on Wednesday evening, June 1.
“I want to beat Newark real bad,” Barone said. “And I want our fans to know about it. It’s going to be a big rivalry and a great game. We’ll want our ‘12th man’ in the stands for that. Fans always make a big difference.”
Good Old Baseball
The crack of a wooden bat knocking a hard ball out of the park has been the music of a summer evening in America for more than 170 years, ever since a New York City “base ball” club called the Knickerbockers set down the first written rules of the game in 1845.
“We play in one of the country’s 30 great collegiate wood-bat leagues,” Barone said, “the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. This is our second summer in the 13-team league. The fans who came to the games last year saw how good these guys really are. I am lucky to coach 28 of the best players in the country.”
“It’s the best of the best in the nation who come here,” Barone said. “These are NCAA, Division-I athletes. They come here to get better and to show the pro scouts they are worth the money.”
“We expect to send at least a dozen players up to the major leagues again this year,” Barone said. “Major League scouts are at every Jammers game. You can tell who they are. They are the guys behind the backstop with a radar gun. It’s not unusual to see 87 to 97 mph fastballs. That is major league pitching!”
“And for talent, take one of our new recruits,” Barone said. “Tolly Filotei was a late round draft pick for the Colorado Rockies right out of high school, but he chose to go to college first. He is now a sophomore at Faulkner State Community College in Alabama. He will play ball in Jamestown this summer. He’s a real fast outfielder, with a 6.3 second, 60-yard time.” Filotei was the first of 28 players who began reporting to camp on Wednesday, May 25 with a contract for the whole summer.
For a few lucky local families, Jamestown Jammers baseball is more than a fan sport. They host the players in their own homes. Local resident Gaylene Lindell, owner and operator of Gaylene’s Jewelry Store, hosted one player last year and enjoyed the experience so much she plans to host two this year and volunteered to head up the family hosting program. Unhosted players can bunk in a Jamestown Community College dorm for the summer, but hosting opportunities are still available by contacting Gaylene or coach Barone.
Players have a few simple, common sense rules, including no drinking or drugs, keeping the curfew and playing hard every day. They play six days every week with one day off to relax, enjoy the local sights and get to know their host families.
Game Day Events
“Pick up a $5 ticket and you get awesome baseball for any of the season’s 25 home games,” Matt Warren promised. Warren is the Jammers’ Entertainment Coordinator and Game Host. “It’s an awesome value at a great price for the whole summer, from June 1 until the end of August.” Warren also said there will be a lot of opportunities for fans to meet the players and get autographs. “Some of them may be tomorrow’s Hall of Famers.”
Game day concessions by Coaches Corner offer soft drinks, from Snapple to 7-UP and root beer to RC Cola, and much more, Warren said, “…and it’s all in bottles. Hometown Southern Tier Brewery and Budweiser products are also on hand to go with all the traditional ballpark foods, hot dogs and burgers.”
Special nights are also slated for groups like local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, hospital emergency workers, first responders and many more, including a special Kids Day Sunday discount for Jammers Kids Club members. On June 6, an 11:05 a.m. game for 1,000 local mid- and elementary-school students will give them a half day of school and a great seat for the Jammers vs Elmira game.
“Matt Warren is a great addition to our staff,” Barone said. “He is a wonderful entertainer and organizer.”
Building the Pros
“I recruit the players in the fall,” Barone said. “In September and October I am on the phone all day and all night getting guys to play for Jamestown. I talk to coaches, watch videos and go see them play. The fellows get a lot of offers and we are competing with a lot of other teams for the talent.”
“University coaches send them here to get better and to take new skills back with them at the end of the summer,” Barone said. “They come from different programs all over the country. It is very challenging. They have to learn the difference between success and failure.”
“To me, failure is just giving up. I don’t consider anybody a failure unless they quit. I love guys who stick it out and grind through a tough situation. Whether you win or lose, the guys who just keep competing are the guys who are successful. The ones who come to the ballpark every day and want to get better are the guys who are really successful. That’s what you teach in the summer, the never give up attitude and real competition. This is a day-to-day job and they have to treat it like it is a job.”
“You’ve got to love the game. If you don’t love the game this is where it shows. This is pure baseball.”
On The Air and On-Line
Radio play-by-play color and commentary for all home and away games will be presented by the Keystone Sports Network over WCCB 1370 AM out of Corry, PA. Jamestown’s Media-1 will do remote broadcasts as they are scheduled.
Fans can also watch the games live on YouTube, with four cameras set up at the ballpark for live play-by-play. Access is through www.Jamestownbaseball.com. “We have a great website,” Barone added, “and I hope a lot of people will take a look at it for schedules, rosters, player bios and league news.”
Summer is coming. Play ball!