North Shore Navigators

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North Shore Navigators
League FCBL (East Division)
Location Lynn, MA (2008-present)
Holyoke, MA (2004-2007)
Middletown, CT (1994-2003)
Ballpark Fraser Field (2008-present)
Year founded 1994
Nickname(s) Navs
League championships 4 NECBL (1997, 1998, 1999, 2010)
Regular-Season Division championships 1 NECBL (2007)
Former name(s) Holyoke Giants (2004-2007)
Middletown Giants (1994-2003)
Former league(s)

NECBL (1994-2011)

    • East Division (2009-2011)
    • Northern Division (2005-2008)
    • Southern Division (2002, 2004)
    • American Division (2001)
Former ballparks Mackenzie Stadium (2004-2007)
Palmer Field (1994-2003)
Colors Blue, White
         
Mascot Chomps the 'Gator & High Seas Harry the Sailor
Ownership Salvi Sports Enterprises
Management Bill Terlecky (GM)
Manager Richie Hebner
Media Radio: Roei Biberstain
Website nsnavs.com

The North Shore Navigators are a wooden-bat, collegiate summer baseball team based in Lynn, Massachusetts, playing in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. The team plays home games at Fraser Field in Lynn. Formerly known as the Holyoke Giants, team ownership relocated the franchise to Lynn for the 2008 NECBL season. In the offseason following the 2011 NECBL season, a move to the Futures Collegiate Baseball League under new ownership, Salvi Sports New England, LLC, was announced.[1]

Prior to moving to Lynn, the Navigators, as the Giants, were a successful team in the NECBL's Northern Division. The franchise has existed since the NECBL's inception in 1994, and previously, as the Middletown Giants, won three consecutive NECBL Championships (1997, 1998, 1999 seasons), remaining the only team to have done so.

Team history[edit]

NECBL Charter Franchise[edit]

One of five charter franchises of the NECBL, the Navigators began their existence as the Middletown Giants, playing at Palmer Field in Middletown Connecticut. There, the Giants saw a great deal of success. The Giants finished the NECBL's inaugural 1994 regular season with the second-best record in the league, though the team did not qualify for the championship series under the league rules at the time.[1] After a last-place showing in 1995, the Giants qualified for postseaon play in 1996, though they fell to the now-defunct Central Mass. Collegians.

The 1997 season saw the Giants finish tied for third place with a 19-21 record, qualifying the team for postseason play for the second straight year. Giant and future major-leaguer Earl Snyder was a NECBL player of the week in week one. After sweeping the Rhode Island Reds in a best-of-three series that saw two rain outs, the Giants went on to defeat the Torrington Twisters, a first-year expansion team, for the 1997 NECBL Championship, the Fay Vincent Cup. Middletown took game one 8-7 after a 13-inning marathon, marking one of the longest games in NECBL playoff history. After being shut-out 4-0 at home, the Giants defeated Torrington 8-5 in a decisive Game 3.

1998 again saw the Giants finish in third place. After sweeping the Danbury Westerners in the postseason, Middletown defeated Torrington three games to one in a best-of-five rematch of the 1997 series, marking the franchise's second straight league championship.

The Middletown Giants.

In 1999, the Giants had one of their most successful seasons in franchise history, fishing at 27-15, a half a game behind the first place Keene Swampbats. Middletown defeated the Rhode Island Reds two game to one, and defeated the Danbury Westerners three games to one for their third consecutive championship, marking the first (and only) time in NECBL history a team has one the championship three years in a row.

Post Championship Years[edit]

The 2000 season saw the Giants advance to the playoffs again after a fourth-place regular season record of 22-30, though they were knocked out in the semi-finals by Keene. In 2001, the Giants finished in fourth place, and with a losing record of 16-24, in the newly created American Division, as the NECBL expanded to 10 teams. Attendance figures, however, continued to fall, as the Giants only brought in an average of 107 fans per game in 2001.[2]

The NECBL moved to a short-lived three division alignment for 2002[3], which saw Middletown finish as runner-up in the Southern Division to the Newport Gulls. The team lost two straight games to Danbury in the first round of the playoffs, and was eliminated. In 2003, the Giants were swept by the Torrington Twisters in the first round.

Fan support continued to be less than desired, with the Giants averaging only half as many fans in the stands at home games as away games in 2003, and a substantial decline seen from the small gains made the previous two seasons. As both 2003 playoff games were played in Torrington, what would become the final Giants game at Palmer Field took place on July 21, 2003, where the Giants lost, 4-2, to the Newport Gulls. The game was attended by a moderate 326 fans.

Numerous team members of the Middletown era went on to play professional baseball, including major leaguers Rajai Davis, Chad Paronto, Mike Smith, Doug Clark, and Earl Snyder.[4]

The Move to Holyoke[edit]

The Giants left Connecticut for Holyoke, MA in 2004, where they played their games at MacKenzie Stadium. The team saw success there in terms of attendance, averaging 548 fans a game, with a season total of 11,514.[5] With a 17-25 record, though, the Giants failed to make the playoffs.

The Holyoke Giants, 2004 - 2007.

In 2005, the team fared better in the standings, at 23-19, and while attendance dropped off somewhat, the team saw its first playoff berth in Holyoke. 1,100 fans came out for Game 1 of the first round against the Vermont Mountaineers, though the Giants fell, 9-0, and went on to lost Game 2 in Vermont. Despite a losing season in 2006, the Giants again saw a playoff berth, though they were once again swept by the Mountaineers in the first round.

2007 saw one of the most successful seasons for the Giants in nearly a decade, as they finished at 26-16, amidst a battle for first place in the NECBL North. The first round of the playoffs had Holyoke paired up with the Lowell All-Americans, and in the longest three game series in NECBL history, the Giants came out on top. After winning Game 1 in 11 innings on a walk-off walk, the Lowell All-Americans won Game 2 on a walk-off single, in the bottom of the 15th inning. The series returned to Holyoke for Game 3, where, in 10 innings, a walk-off sacrifice fly sent the Giants to the Northern Division Championship Series.

Having finished the regular season in first place, the Giants had home field advantage for Game 1 against the Vermont Mountaineers, though lost 7-3. Game 2 seemed like it would be yet another extra inning contest for the Giants, but a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th by Vermont ended Holyoke's season.

The NS Navs[edit]

By December 2007, word had spread that the Giants would be moving for the 2008 season. It was soon publicly revealed that the Giants would be moving to Lynn, Massachusetts, and would be playing at Fraser Field under the name North Shore Navigators.

"I had a great opportunity to move to Fraser Field in Lynn, and it is one of the best baseball facilities in New England," owner Phil Rosenfield told The Republican. Fraser Field had been home to the North Shore Spirit, of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball, which ceased operation at the end of 2007 after five years in Lynn. With the adoption of the Navigators name, the Giants name will become unused for the first time in league history. The Giants were the last of the original five franchises to have continued to use its original name.

When it came to leaving Holyoke, Rosenfield said, "I do have some regrets because we were just really coming around and we had such committed staff." While many in the city met the departure with disappointment,[6] almost simultaneously it was announced that the former Concord Quarry Dogs would be taking the Giants place in Holyoke, as the Holyoke Blue Sox.

The move to Lynn marks the first time a NECBL team will be attempted in the Metro-Boston area, the next closest franchise being located in Lowell. With the departure of the Spirit, the Navigators are hoping to capitalize on the void left behind.

The Navigators first season in Lynn was marked by a second place regular season finish in the NECBL Northern Division, with a record of 26-16, marking the 11th postseason berth in franchise history. Home games gained regional exposure by media coverage of the team via LYNNCAM TV, which televised the games live in multiple Massachusetts communities.

In the postseason, the Navigators were upset by the lower seeded Keene Swampbats, who swept North Shore out of the playoffs in the first round with a 11-7 victory in Lynn in Game 1, followed by a 1-0 shutout in Game 2 in Keene. The Navigators had finished the regular season with a league best 2.52 team ERA and .973 team fielding percentage, though in second place in the Northern Division, two games behind the 2008 NECBL Champion Sanford Mainers.

In 2009, the Navigators once again qualified for the postseason with a 20-21 record, good for the #3 seed in the East Division playoffs. In a first round matchup with the second-seeded Sanford Mainers, the Navigators split the first two game to force a decisive game 3. In game 3, the Navigators were narrowly defeated 5-3, ending their season.

In the 2010 season, the Navigators again qualified for the postseason as their 25-17 record was the second-best in the East Division. They beat the Sanford Mainers two games to one in the Division Semifinals to move on to the East Finals against the defending champion Newport Gulls. They dropped the first game in Newport, but they came back with a home victory to force a deciding third game, which North Shore pulled out on the road. The Navigators moved on to face the Danbury Westerners in the Championship Series. Both teams won a game at their home fields to set up a winner-take-all third game at Fraser Field in Lynn. The Navigators won a back-and-forth contest 5-4 to secure the team's 4th NECBL crown, the first as the Navigators.

League switch[edit]

On February 8, 2012, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League announced via Twitter that the Navigators would be switching leagues from the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The switch came after an ownership change, as Pat Salvi's Salvi Sports New England, LLC, purchased the team from former owner Tim Haley. Salvi also owns the Gary SouthShore Railcats, a independent professional baseball team based in Gary, Indiana.[1]

Postseason Appearances[edit]

NECBL[edit]

Year Division Semi-Finals* Division Finals* NECBL Championship Series
Middletown Giants
1996 Central Mass Collegians L (1-2)
1997 Rhode Island Reds W (2-0) Torrington Twisters W (2-1)
1998 Danbury Westerners W (2-0) Torrington Twisters W (3-1)
1999 Rhode Island Reds W (2-1) Danbury Westerners W (3-1)
2000 Keene Swamp Bats L (1-2)
2002 Danbury Westerners L (0-2)
2003 Torrington Twisters L (0-2)
Holyoke Giants
2005 Vermont Mountaineers L (0-2)
2006 Vermont Mountaineers L (0-2)
2007 Lowell All-Americans W (2-1) Vermont Mountaineers L (0-2)
North Shore Navigators
2008 Keene Swamp Bats L (0-2)
2009 Sanford Mainers L (1-2)
2010 Sanford Mainers W (2-1) Newport Gulls W (2-1) Danbury Westerners W (2-1)
2011 Sanford Mainers L (1-2)
  • *The NECBL did not separate into divisions until 2001. In 1994, a points system was used. From 1995 - 2000, the top four teams played each other in a league semi-final.

FCBL[edit]

Year Play-In Round** Semi-Final Round* FCBL Championship
2012 Torrington Titans W (2-1) Nashua Silver Knights L (0-2)
2013 Brockton Rox L (0-1)
  • *The FCBL changed its postseason to a two-round format starting in the 2012 season
  • ** A one-game Play-In round was added in the 2013 season

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cornetta, Kat H. (8 February 2012). "North Shore Navigators Move To Futures League". College Baseball Daily. Archived from the original on 2012-02-09. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 

External links[edit]