It’s baseball season in North Adams, Massachusetts.
There’s a unfettered quality to summer baseball in the Berkshires.
“The good thing about summer is that I feel like it gives you a little more relaxed atmosphere than when you’re playing college baseball through the regular season, through that daily grind," said North Adams SteepleCats General Manager Matt Torra. “Here you get to just take what you were doing at college and just work on it, and we’re here to kind of just provide that for them.”
“There’s a lot of kids — I call them kids because they’re kids to me — that develop over the summertime, from relatively unknowns to draft picks, and this is place where they learn how to be essentially a professional baseball player, is with us," said Allen Hall, President of the SteepleCats. “There are 13 teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. They’re scattered across New England. Our team is based in North Adams, Massachusetts. We’ve been here for 17 years, and it’s a very competitive baseball league with some of the highest talent in the country.”
Hall says the team of Division I college baseball players — with all new faces this season — features a Berkshire batsman.
“Matt Koperniak, who is playing college baseball at Trinity, is a local product — he’s from Adams, Massachusetts,” said Hall.
“He led the team this year in batting average, batting .388. He had 47 hits and 5 home runs, also his slugging percentage is .620," Torra told WAMC — himself a veteran of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. “He led the team in a lot of categories, we’re looking for him to contribute as well here, and we think he’s going to be able to compete for us.”
“I had a pretty good year at Trinity, so I’m going to try to keep that going for the ‘Cats," said Koperniak. “Team’s great. They’re from all around the country, so. Definitely a lot of talent, and I can’t wait to play with these guys for the whole summer.”
As the team’s sole local, he’ll play an equally vital role away from Joe Wolfe Field.
“Throughout the summer, I’ll definitely be showing these guys around, being a local boy,” he told WAMC.
Koperniak’s guide to the Berkshires starts with its actual foundation.
“I mean, they got to see the wildlife, or the countryside. Some of these guys are city boys and they haven’t seen a mountain, so — maybe something like that, maybe Mount Greylock,” he said.
The earliest written reference to baseball came from a Pittsfield bylaw penned in 1791, and Hall sees no reason why Koperniak or any of the SteepleCats can’t step into the Berkshires’ considerable history of contributions to baseball.
“We’ve had a lot of tremendous baseball players — from Frank Grant, who’s a Hall of Fame player, Jack Chesbro, who’s a Hall of Fame player —are from our area," Hall said to WAMC, "To numerous players who have played professional baseball that have come from Northern Berkshire, and it is instilled in the community.”
There’s more aboutThe SteepleCats’ season here.