The Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) is a summer collegiate baseball league featuring eight teams filled with top baseball talent from local and national colleges and universities. The teams play in New England cities like Brockton, New Britain, Worcester, Pittsfield, Nashua, Norwich, Westfield, and Burlington at some of the most historic baseball stadiums New England has to offer. The FCBL season is already underway, with about 10 game played to date.
One of the teams in the FCBL that caught my eye was the Brockton Rox. It features Rhode Island and Wheaton College’s Max Pierce, who pitched Saturday night (2IP, 4K’s) vs the Worcester Bravehearts. It also features a cluster of sons whose fathers played professional baseball right up Route 24 in Boston for the Boston Red Sox organization and as opponents for teams like the A’s, the Braves, the Mets, and the Yankees. And the son of a player who used to crush Red Sox pitching along with many, many other MLB pitchers. See if you can recognize these names and who their famous fathers might be:
- Kade Foulke
- Pedro Martinez, Jr.
- Manny Ramirez, Jr.
- DAngelo Ortiz
- Jaden Sheffield
World Series champs, a few Hall of Famers, a ton of Major League Baseball experience, and yes all proud parents of top level collegiate baseball players. Keith Foulke, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Gary Sheffield, and Manny Ramirez – all represented by their sons on the 2022 Brockton Rox Baseball team. This, I said to Rachel as we were planning out our Sunday, I have to see.
I emailed Director of Media Relations & League Administrator Joshua Kummins in the morning asking about ticket prices and availability. Josh was kind enough to extend me a press pass for the game, thank you Josh and much appreciated. By the way, you can buy tickets online prior to the game or at the game (there is a ticket office.) So, Rachel and I took the drive North up Route 95 to MA and 495East to Route 24N, exited at Route 123 in Brockton, then a short drive down to Campanelli Stadium, the home of the Brockton Rox and as the signage notated on the press box, “The City of Champions.”
At the stadium, Jackson Roberts, a staff member for the Rox, greeted us and ushered us into the stadium and to some seats behind home plate. First reactions as I glanced around Campanelli Stadium brought me back to the good old days at McCoy Stadium for PawSox games. It definitely has a minor league baseball stadium feel to it. As we were walking in, the national anthem was being played with the Rox already on the field, escorted by some local youth baseball players. In fact, well over 50% of the fans in attendance on Sunday were kids under 18, many of them wearing eye black, their baseball uniforms, and all of them rowdy and ready for baseball. Sunday was an incredible baseball weather day – bright sunny skies, 70ish degrees, light wind, no humidity, just ideal conditions for baseball.
Rachel and I took seats just under the press box area, in the shade, and behind home plate. I had been listening to the starting lineups as we walked into the stadium and caught 3 of the MLB player’s sons names – Ortiz, Ramirez, and Sheffield – that were in the starting lineup. Kade Foulke is a pitcher, so I thought I might see him out of the bullpen and Pedro Martinez, Jr played on Saturday night and was not in the starting lineup on Sunday. As I stated earlier, I missed Max Pierce by one day as well, his mother actually let me know ahead of time that Max had pitched on Saturday and would not likely be pitching on Sunday. Still, this was going to be really cool to see the sons play and hit and try to compare swings with their MLB Dads.
Sheffield, like his Dad Gary, batted right handed. Ramirez, like his Dad Manny, batted right handed. However, DAngelo, unlike his Dad David (a left handed legend), also batted right handed. I’m not a swing coach so I can’t dive any deeper than that. Sheffield did have a little bat twitch thing like his Dad did. On the day, Sheffield was 1 for 4 with a triple. Ramirez, also with a triple on the day, went 1 for 3. Ortiz had 2 hits in 4 trips. Each contributed runs in the Rox 6-5 win over the Bravehearts. I was a big fan of all three Dads when they played professional baseball, even Sheffield who could really crush the baseball. And it was really cool seeing the next generation of Ramirez, Ortiz, and Sheffield out there on the field for Rox.
A few observations from the game that I wrote down in my notes. Campanelli Stadium has dimensions of 320 to left, 403 to center, and 320 to right. In centerfield, on either side of the blacked out wall known as the “batter’s eye” there are two red shirts painted on the outfield wall. One reads “Hagler 62” and the other “Marciano 49,” honoring the two fighters from Brockton that helped put Brockton, MA on the map boxing wise – Marvelous Marvin Hagler and the Rock From Brockton, Rocky Marciano. I got a photo of the two shirts and the American flag waving in the wind and as I was snapping the photo, I noticed a massive Rocky Marciano statue just passed the baseball stadium.
I mentioned the kids at the game earlier. Some local youth sports leagues had come to the game to partake in the game, play in between games on the field, chase foul balls in the stands, and then eventually run the bases. They were loud and excited to be there and at one point started chanting “hit a foul” to the batters so they could then run after them in the stands. All in good fun, the kids were definitely making the most of their trip to Campanelli and much to their delight, there were a number of foul balls hit into the stands for them to chase after.
I even got my photo with KO, the Rox mascot. I waited my turn, like a kid, and got this photo and memory:
The concession stand was open for the game Sunday and the stadium seating area was well kept and clean. Rachel and I walked around a bit in between innings, out to left field, then settled in around the first base dugout for most of the 2nd half of the game. I took this video from the left field seating area:
And this one from right field:
5-5 going into the bottom of the 9th inning and the Rox were able to walk off with the win. Kids attending the game shuttled down to the 3rd base dugout area and ran the bases and got to meet and greet some of the Rox players. It was a really good game on a spectacular weather day in Brockton. The sun was shining bright, tons of talent on the field, the kids in the stands were pretty entertaining as well. It was a great trip to Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium and I loved the minor league feel of all of it. Plus, a win for the home town Rox, so it was a win-win for Sunday and another incredible Rhode Island Baseball Road Trip Experience.
For more information on The Futures Collegiate Baseball League, head over to www.thefuturesleague.com.