21 Rhode Island Baseball Experiences That Stood Out in 2021

2021 proved to be another incredible year for my Rhode Island Baseball Experiences. I met so many amazing student athletes, chatted baseball with former professional baseball leaguers, and read posts by Rhode Island Baseball proud parents from Smithfield to Newport to Westerly and all points North, South, East, and West. Thank you, as a fan, to all the player, coaches, and families for allowing me to be a part of your Rhode Island Baseball journey in 2021. Here are some photos and moments that stood out for me in 2021 as I traveled the State of Rhode Island capturing the magic and splendor of baseball.

When I walked into Longplex last winter, my first reaction was “Wowza!” If you haven’t been, make a trip out to Tiverton to check out this massive indoor sports complex. You won’t be disappointed. Great to see The RI Rays and Ocean State Makos team practices while I was visiting that day.

7 Student athletes sat down with me at 365Sports to discuss baseball 2019 and their future plans for 2020. Collectively, this group impressed me so much with their maturity, their humble approach to the game of baseball, and then on the field in 2020. 7 of the best to play baseball in RI in 2020, hands down!!!

Bryant University vs University of Rhode Island, Saturday March 13th. Their seasons cut short in 2020, these Rhode Island and national powerhouse D1 Baseball programs were off and running and both enjoyed incredible seasons.

I took my first trip to “The bubble” at Wide World of Indoor Sports, North Smithfield this year. I would go several times for Ocean State Bandits Scout Day, Ocean State Outlaws practices, and was just blown away by how cool it was that baseball was being played in a bubble in February!

Call it bad timing but every time I would head over to Riverside Little League to check out the field, the front gates were locked. I happened to be in Riverside this afternoon, April 3rd, and watched a youth baseball game on the back field. So my timing was right that day!

Bryan Murray of Area Scouts once asked me “Hey do you want to meet Lenny DiNardo?” DiNardo is a pitching consultant with Area Scouts and former MLB player, now commentator. I said (heck) yes of course and several texts and emails exchanged later, I was able to ask Lenny a bunch of baseball questions and learn more about his career as a ball player and a musician. Great experience and I thank Lenny for his awesome responses!

Similar to URI, Bryant and other RI collegiate baseball programs, Salve Regina University was back playing baseball for the first time in almost a year. I stopped by and watched a game from the perimeter of Reynolds Field, as were the instructions of the school. 4 fans watching the game from a stone wall across the street snapped this photo for me, Saturday April 17th.

Coaches vs Cancer Game, Bryant University – I got to meet Dave and Noah Antunes as well as several Smithfield Little League and RI Renegades players and coaches. One of my favorite baseball games and experiences of the year, hands down!!!

I absolutely love neighborhood, community ball parks. And it is especially cool for me to honor and promote the great work volunteers, like those at Warren Little League, who upgrade facilities, hang sponsorship banners, run the concession stands, and devote their free time so others can have a positive experience.

Personally, it was a pretty amazing moment seeing my son Harrison suit up and take the mound for the North Kingstown High School Junior Varsity baseball team to face Portsmouth High School, Saturday May 8th. 30 something years ago, I was in a similar uniform with NKHS playing my first JV games. Proud parent moment I will cherish forever.

I was invited to the Pawtucket Slaterettes’ Opening Day ceremony at the Boys and Girls Club, Pawtucket Saturday May 15th. It was a bright sunny day with wonderful speeches, the national anthem sung by a former Slaterette player, and just tons of positive energy for girls and women’s baseball here in Rhode Island.

With the permissions of both the Block Island School and Paul Cuffee, I traveled to BI for a baseball game and experience like I’d never seen before. It was Hurricanes vs Navigators. Meeting the players and coaches and fans that day was so special. And it was a fantastic day in Block Island as well.

Senior Day/Night is always special and emotional. I went to an extra special Senior Night at Cranston Stadium, Monday May 31st featuring Cranston East vs Cranston West. The stadium was packed with friends and family from both schools, many of them grew up together and had played with/against each other since Tee Ball.

Coach Bob Downey’s last home game as Head Coach of East Greenwich High School. Downey, who is moving onto become an assistant with Coventry High School in 2021, gave a fantastic pre-game speech honoring his family, his coaching staff, his players, and the game of baseball.

The Ocean State Waves, having no season in 2020, rolled into Fitch Field to play the Mystic Schooners in New England Collegiate Baseball League play, Sunday June 6th. It was an incredible night of baseball and reminded everyone in attendance how incredibly talented the NECBL players are.

I watched a lot games in 2021, but this playoff game between Rogers and North Providence High School was definitely in the top 5. Roger’s Luv Lavigueur vs NP’s Nicholas Rioles and a pitcher’s duel for the ages. Just so awesome to be at that game in historic Cardines Field, Saturday June 13th.

With all due respect to this list of experiences, this may be #1 for me. It was the best game I saw in 2021 and it featured Coventry High School vs Central High School. An extra inning game with home runs, both starting pitchers giving their all on the mound, key defensive saves, and more heart and hustle and energy than I can even write about.

I had the discomfort and honor of watching Coventry’s Tommy Turner mow down the competition, my North Kingstown High School Baseball club, Saturday June 26th, at Rhode Island College for Game 2 of the D1 States. Turner is must watch baseball, he is a star! In the end though, NKHS won its first State Title since 1967 the very next day.

Ramon de Los Santos invited me to join him and others for a send off practice for his little brother, Anderson de Los Santos at Davis Park, Providence, Friday July 16th. Anderson had just been signed by the Atlanta Braves organization and his club team, Providence Sports and Leadership held a press conference/practice for the Central High School shortstop. Anderson was on his way to one of the Braves minor league teams that next day.

This fall, I got to travel around Rhode Island to watch the Autumn Baseball League teams play. This game featured Vogie vs RI Red Devils at Prete-Metcalf Field, Providence. I met some amazing coaches from Smithfield, Vogie, the Devils, and Maplewood and watched some incredible baseball all fall long.

Through a parent and a co-worker, I learned about Fall River’s Axis Bat Company and owner Lou Ledoux. Lou and I chatted about baseball bats, family, the Red Sox, and so much more during my visit to his Anawan Street location in Fall River. What an incredible bat company and an ever more incredible owner, Mr. Lou Ledoux!

For 2021, the memories and the friendships and the joy of covering baseball here in Rhode island are all just so special to me. I thank every single person who shared a story, a moment at a baseball game, a photo or video online – you inspire me to be the best writer and storyteller I can be. From my family to yours, Happy New Year!!!

PS – for more information on any photos or stories in this post, send me an email at ribaseballexperience@gmail.com.

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