New Britain Rock Cats
|New Britain Rock Cats
New Britain, Connecticut
|Minor league affiliations|
|Eastern League (1983–2015)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (2)||
|Division titles (2)||
|Colors||Red, Black, Gray, Tan, White
|Ballpark||New Britain Stadium (1996–2015)|
|Beehive Field (1983–1995)|
The New Britain Rock Cats were a minor league baseball team that competed in the Eastern League. They were the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins for 20 years and the Colorado Rockies for one. They played their home games at New Britain Stadium in New Britain, Connecticut.
The franchise's timeline can be traced back to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where they were a Boston Red Sox Double-A affiliate from 1965 to 1969. The franchise then moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1970, and spent three years in the Ocean State. When the Pawtucket Red Sox became a Triple-A team in 1973, the Red Sox moved their Double-A franchise to Bristol, Connecticut. Known as the Bristol Red Sox, the team played at Muzzy Field for ten seasons from 1973 to 1982. Starting with the 1983 season, owner Joe Buzas moved the team some ten miles east to New Britain. Then known as the New Britain Red Sox, the team played its home games at Beehive Field, which is still standing next to the current stadium.
As Beehive Field became outdated and new facilities began to pop up in other cities around the league, Buzas was faced with the choice of staying in New Britain and building a new stadium,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, an affiliation that lasted until the end of the 2014 season. 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.
During 2003 and 2004, the team was involved in several lawsuits over its night game fireworks displays. A group of residents living near the stadium claimed the noise was disruptive, and the ash and debris damaged their cars and homes. In May 2005, Judge Marshall Berger allowed the shows to continue after attending one himself, but ruled that they should be limited to Friday nights only. This compromise seems to have worked, since the neighborhood group no longer complains, and the Friday night games are usually sold out, due in part to the post game Fireworks Displays.
On July 12, 2008, the Rock Cats established a franchise record for single game attendance. The crowd of 8,115 marked the first time the 8,000 mark was surpassed for a game at New Britain Stadium. This record was broken on June 27, 2009, with a crowd of 8,212. On July 10, 2013, the Rock Cats hosted the Eastern League All-Star Game at New Britain Stadium. The event drew 8,633 fans, shattering the previous single game attendance record. The Rock Cats reached the 8,000 mark once again on May 31, 2014 with a crowd of 8,079. The record was ultimately broken on August 28, 2015, when 8,672 fans watched the team's last ever Friday home game.
On June 4, 2014, it was announced that the Rock Cats would move to Hartford, Connecticut, in 2016, signing a 25-year lease for a new stadium that would be built. On March 18, 2015, the team announced it would be known as the Hartford Yard Goats beginning in 2016. On June 17, 2014, it was announced that the Hartford Yard Goats new stadium for the 2016 season would be named Dunkin' Donuts Park. The Rock Cats played their last game at New Britain Stadium on August 30, 2015.
The New Britain Rock Cats were featured in an episode of ESPN's Mayne Street short comedy series.
- 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)
- Outfielder Denard Span (2005–06)
- Third baseman Danny Valencia (2008)
- Third baseman Yangervis Solarte (2010–2011)
|1998||John Russell||83–59||.585||1st||Won Semifinals
Lost League Championship Series
|New Britain 3, Binghamton 1
Harrisburg 3, New Britain 1
|2001||Stan Cliburn||87–55||.613||1st||Won Semifinals
League Championship Series Cancelled 1
|New Britain 3, Norwich 1
New Britain 0, Reading 0
|2003||Stan Cliburn||73–68||.518||2nd||Lost Semifinals||New Haven 3, New Britain 2|
|2009||Tom Nieto||72–69||.511||2nd||Lost Semifinals||Connecticut Defenders 3, New Britain 1|
- 12001 League Championship was canceled due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
- Rocky the Rock Cat (main mascot)
- Rookie the Rock Cat (Rocky's nephew)
- Sandy the Lion
- Blooper the Walrus
- Toner the Advance Copy's Copy Cat
Sponsored Inning Mascots:
- The Dunkin' Donuts Trio – Coffee, Iced Coffee, and Donut
- "Rock Cats Set New Single Game Attendance Record at New Britain Stadium 8,672". www.milb.com. Minor League Baseball. August 28, 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Hartford Mayor Says Rock Cats Are Moving to Hartford". NBC Connecticut. June 4, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "New Britain Rock Cats to Become Hartford Yard Goats". NBC Connecticut. March 18, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Yard Goats chosen as new name for Hartford baseball team". WFSB. March 18, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Hartford Baseball Stadium Will Be Dunkin' Donuts Park". NBC Connecticut. June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- "Dramatic Patterson Walk-Off HR Lifts Lid Off New Britain Stadium In Rock Cats Finale". www.milb.com. Minor League Baseball. August 31, 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- Kilpatrick, Bryan (Sep 17, 2014). "Rockies, New Britain Rock Cats expected to begin Double-A affiliation". Purple Row. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
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