For starters, Yawkey League Hall of Famer Dan Pill has moved on and the former 50% franchise share holder Dana Levensaler, is now the sole franchise holder. With field permits becoming ever increasingly difficult to obtain, and the Minutemen bouncing around numerous home fields within the Boston area the last 3 years, the first order of business was to secure somewhere the Minmen can really call home and play the majority of their 16 home games at. They needed a good venue and a good ball park as a foundation to start.
After trying for a decade, and a lot of good things falling into place, this huge, first goal has been accomplished. The squad will leave the scenic tennis courts and infamous “doggie hill” of Rogers Park in Brighton. Although the sights will be missed at Rogers, the team will now bat in the bottom frame of innings at Nipper Maher Park in Waltham. Simply dubbed “Nipper”, there is a huge baseball tradition here. A boat load of high level college ball players, independent league players, and players that would eventually go on to be drafted have played ball here. Nipper has plenty of parking, a good field, good mound, one of the best batters box around and a “mini monster” along the entire outfield. The mini monster is a chain linked fence about 20 feet high……and its even painted green.
With this, a complete rebranding was in order. A vision Levensaler has had for years since his early days as a Brighton Brave some 22 years ago. Also, the fact that in this local market, there has not been a team called this for years, and teams that did have the name were offered uniforms and donations to change it. Let the boos begin……ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Waltham Yankees.
All these logistics and waiting to see where the dominoes would fall, in addition to the crazy snow, has led the Yanks to start a tad later then usual on the personal side. Their three all stars from last year all return including Levensaler himself. Team hit leader and strikeout leader on the mound, Rob MacDonald is back. Maca also emerged last year into a leadership role with managerial duties and he will continue that as well. He, like Dana, a Waltham guy, grew up playing ball at Nipper. Third all star and team leader in wins returns, and Stephen Shortle is right on track with his normal non-throwing off season routine. Come mid summer though, tall lefty Steve-O will continue to paint the black and mix in off speed pitches to try to keep opposing offenses quiet.
Super YBL vet Steve Walsh will return and continue to track down balls with younger outfield teammates asking him “how did you get to that?”. “positioning”. Walshy led the team in RBI last year and also has a leadership role and knows how to “position” himself because he has been playing against YBL-ers for years and knows the scouting reports.
Base running rabbit Steve Fitzmaurice returns. In addition to shagging balls down, Fitzy also has been behind the dish. When he is, he would have to be the fasted catcher in the league. With some base stealing tips, look for Fitz to again lead the team in steals.
Speaking of catchers, Devin Kelly returns. The U Mass Boston sophomore catcher got a taste of the YBL last summer and now realizes how good the ball is here. With another year playing at school and one YBL summer under his belt, look for Kelly to continue to improve.
When it comes to two things in the YBL, the Waltham Yanks have one of the best. 1-baseball trivia and 2-Highest IQ in the league. We are speaking of course, about Dan Cooney. Baseball trivia all day and after spending years at Harvard, you don’t want to start asking him about non baseball stuff because it will be over your head.
The Yanks have other coals in the fire and other players returning from last year that will help with this exciting rebrand as we get ready to don the pinstripes.