To paraphrase the famous line in the movie, “Field of Dreams,” if you throw the first pitch, they will come.
“Players from both the Valley Blue Sox and Westfield Starfires live with local families in the summer. They impact our local economy,’’ says Mary Kay Wydra, president of the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. “People may not come to the region specifically to see them, but if they’re here and have an open summer’s night, it’s an awesome option from the tourism standpoint. At the same time, they give the local people something to do.”
The Blue Sox and Starfires share similarities, but they are distinctly different operations.
Each team plays in a New England-based league of amateur college players with pro aspirations, the Blue Sox in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) and the Starfires in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
Each league uses wooden bats, a nod to baseball history but, more importantly, a chance for college players weaned on aluminum to prepare for the wood-based pro game. The collegians come from all over the country, but stay with Western Massachusetts families during the season.