As expected, the Bristol Blues have officially announced that they will play as an expansion team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League starting in the summer of 2020.
The NECBL includes 13 teams across the six New England states, including the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, who also migrated from the Futures League, following the 2018 season. The Blues join two other franchises in Connecticut: the Danbury Westerners and Mystic Schooners.
The Schooners began life as the Bristol Collegiate Baseball Club, playing NECBL games at Muzzy Field in 2010 before moving to Mystic. Bristol was also formerly home to the Bristol Nighthawks, an original NECBL team that played at Muzzy Field in 1994 and 1995.
The NECBL, which starts its summer season in early June and will play an eight-week regular season schedule of 44 games, is considered to be more competitive than the league Bristol is leaving. Based on a research formula developed by summerbaseballregister.com, the NECBL is rated as the second-most competitive collegiate summer baseball league behind only the Cape Cod League.
“It has been a dream of ours to be a part of the NECBL,” Blues co-owner Elliot Scheiner said. “We are thrilled to be a member of one of the greatest summer collegiate league in the country. Our organization and the fans of Bristol will be excited to see the elite caliber of player that the NECBL possesses.”
Blues general manager Nick Rascati echoed those sentiments: “As a young boy, I fell in love with the game of baseball. As a player, coach and now General Manager of the Bristol Blues, I am truly blessed to be here. The NECBL is a fantastic league, and I am thrilled to see the entirety of Bristol stacked up against the elite competition.”
The Blues will apparently be replacing the New Bedford (Mass.) Bay Sox, as the news release welcoming the Blues mentioned 13 teams - the same number as were in the league last season - and the NECBL website shows only 13 team logos in its header, with the Bay Sox not included.
“The NECBL is comprised of 13 scenic communities in New England which all share a passion for baseball and their hometown team,” league commissioner Sean McGrath said. “What makes them all special are the fan bases and individuals who lead these organizations. The Blues organization has done a tremendous job through the years at integrating the team in their community, and we look forward to bringing some of the best college players in the country to Bristol.
“On the field, we are confident the Blues organization and General Manager Nick Rascati will be able to assemble a roster of elite level college players from every conference and every part of the country,” McGrath continued. “The NECBL offers high-caliber college players the opportunity to play with and compete against some of the best players in the country each summer. On average, about 25 percent of our players are chosen in the MLB Draft annually, indicating the high quality and elite level of student-athletes that join our league each and every year.”
The Blues will be slotted in the NECBL’s Southern Division with Danbury, Martha’s Vineyard, Mystic, the Newport (R.I.) Gulls and the Ocean State Waves of South Kingstown, R.I. The 2020 schedule will be released in the coming weeks.