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Baseball Fever Comes To Worcester

Baseball Fever Comes To WorcesterOnthe heels of the Red Sox' historic World Series victory last fall,a Tufts graduate is helping bring professional baseball back tocentral Massachusetts. Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.11.05] Following on the heels of Boston’s first WorldSeries Championship in more than 86 years, Alan Stone has endedanother Massachusetts baseball drought. Beginning in May, theTufts graduate will bring professional baseball back to Worcesterafter a 71-year hiatus.

"I believethis is the right time for professional baseball to return toWorcester," Stone, who heads a legal recruitment firm inBoston, told the Milford Daily News. "Our goal isto provide low-priced family entertainment in an enjoyable setting."

The Worcesterteam, which will be known as the Tornadoes, is the newest franchiseof the Canadian-American League, and Stone will serve as presidentand CEO.

Stone andfour other partners paid $500,000 for the franchise, the DailyNews reported. And this is not the Brookline native's firstforay into minor league sports; he is also a limited partner inthe Portland (Maine) Pirates of the American Hockey League (AHL).

The Canadian-AmericanLeague, known last year as the Northeast League, consists of eightindependent minor-league franchises unaffiliated with Major LeagueBaseball. The league also fields teams in Bangor, Brockton, Elmira,New Haven, New Jersey, North Shore (Lynn) and Quebec.

The last timea professional baseball team played in Worcester was 71 yearsago. That streak will end May 28, when the Tornadoes play theirfirst game on the fields of Holy Cross College, which they willuse under an arrangement with the school, the Daily Newsreported.

The team plays92 games, half of which are at home. Some players are alreadyunder contract, and the team is working the phones and planningtryouts to flesh out its roster, according to the newspaper.

It might notbe Red Sox v. Yankees, but Stone said that fans can still expectto see an enthusiastic caliber of play.

"Becausewe are an independent league we can't classify ourselves as anA league or a Double A league, but Rich Gedman [a former Red Soxcatcher who will manage the new club after serving as a benchcoach for North Shore for the past two years] has said the caliberof play in the league is equivalent to a high A league,"Stone told the newspaper.

Part of thatcompetitive spirit will come from the drive of players hopingto get signed by a major league team.

"I thinkthe goal of every player in the league is to be signed by a majorleague team," Stone told the Daily News. "Wewant to help make that happen. We would like a lot of our playersto eventually be signed by major league teams. If that happens,it would be an indication that we are successful."







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