BRISTOL - With the Bristol Bluesâ€™ regular season ending Sunday, the 15 families that hosted 19 members of the teamâ€™s roster for the summer were recognized before Thursday nightâ€™s game.
This is the third year in a row that the Blues have provided host families for players that live too far to travel to the stadium, explained general manager of the Blues, Ed Swicklas.
â€śWhen players sign up, they can say if they need a host family if they live too far,â€ť Swicklas said.
Some families have participated for all three years, and others for one or two years. The families are from Bristol, Harwinton and Wolcott.
The families either hosted one or two players for 10 weeks during the season, beginning around Memorial Day and ending at the end of this week.
The roles of the host families were to provide a home and meals for players throughout the season and in return, the families received two season tickets for home games.
One of the host families were Dave and Tammy Kelly, who have hosted a player for the past three years. Each year they have met the player a few weeks before the season started, they said.
They explained that they live close by to Muzzy Field and this year hosted Garrett Blaylock, who just graduated high school and now attends Vanderbilt University in North Carolina.
â€śItâ€™s a good program,â€ť Dave Kelly said. â€śItâ€™s nice for the players to meet someone else in the area and itâ€™s good if that person is also rooting for them.â€ť
â€śWe will be doing this again next year, without a doubt,â€ť Tammy Kelly said.
Amy Lowrey is in her second year of hosting a player. She said that she lives no more than 10 minutes from the stadium so traveling is easy for the player.
Lowrey said that she hosted Logan Greene from Coventry this year, who grew up playing baseball with her son.
â€śIt definitely benefits and is great for the town,â€ť said Lowrey. â€śAll the kids are great and itâ€™s a great program for the community.â€ť
During the recognition ceremony the host families were presented with a customized, painted baseball bat that was created by Bunty Ray, the baseball coach at Bristol Central High School and owner of Rally Bats, which specializes in wood bats.
Each bat was painted blue, had a Blues logo painted onto it and then were signed by the players before they were given to the families during the ceremony.
Host families are â€śan intricate part of the team,â€ť said co-owner of the Blues Bob Dabkowski.
â€śHost families provide players from outside the state comfort and a home, away from home,â€ť Dabkowski said. â€śThe families are terrific and treat the players like their own kids and it makes for a smoother season for the players.â€ť
â€śWe have a meet and greet the weekend before the season starts,â€ť Dabkowski said. â€śBut Iâ€™d like to expand and do more of a meet and greet at the beginning of the season next year. Maybe we will have the players, their families and the host families come to the field for a game and to meet each other.â€ť
List of Host Families for summer 2017
Bob & Liz Dudek
Bob & Mae Palmisano
Chad & Katie Martineau
Tammy & Dave Kelly
Jim & Tammy Bernier
Dean & Linda Kilbourne
Chris & Sue Duhaime
Rich & Kim Carmelich
Jesse & Stacey Gallagher
Peter Sassu & Ellen Zoppo-Sassu