By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – Every spring, thousands of young players take to the local baseball diamonds to play the game they love. Now, thanks to a new program based in Northborough, the New England Ruffnecks, those players who desire to pursue their passion to another level will have the chance to do so.
At the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Sept. 18 Steven August, the director of the Ruffnecks and the facility where the program is based, the New England Baseball Complex (NEBC), shared his story of how a dream that was in process for 12 years finally became a reality.
The New England Ruffnecks is a college development program geared for players age 13-18. The different teams compete extensively across the country, especially throughout the southern states during the summer months. All coaches are non-parent professionals, August stressed.
August has an impressive background in baseball. He was on staff with the Boston Red Sox from 1990 to 1998, first as traveling secretary and then assistant general manager and director of baseball operations. He then spent time several other organizations, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, in the baseball division of Wolfe Associates, and then the Hit Dog program, which was founded by former Red Sox player Mo Vaughn.
When Hit Dog closed, August founded the New England Baseball Complex and the Ruffnecks. Over the last decade, the program has become a prominent nationally recognized college development program.
The program’s objective, August said, is not to prepare young players for the pros but rather to help them prepare for playing at the college level.
“The program is for really focused kids,” he noted, “who are also academically successful. We work with them to not only teach baseball, but also about self-advocacy.”
Although the Ruffnecks are a nonprofit, the complex itself is not, he said.
Located on Route 20 across from the Northborough Crossing, it has three synthetic turf fields. That will allow for an eight month season, August said. He said they expect to host a number of significant tournaments there, including two youth baseball world series.
“We anticipate 150,000 people coming to the park over the course of a year,” he said. “That means hotel rooms, restaurants and countless other opportunities for the region.”
“People think they are coming to Boston,” he added. “But once they are here they realize they can go there but also enjoy Northborough and the surrounding towns.”
August said NEBC plans to support local high school teams. Companies in the region will also be offered the chance to rent the facilities during the times teams are not playing.
The Ruffnecks organization knows that not every player’s family can afford to send him to the program, so fundraisers are held to offset the costs.
A golf tournament will be held Monday Oct. 20 at the Charter Oak Country Club in Hudson.
All entries include golf, cart, brunch and hors d’oeuvres. Participation is limited to 100 people. The fees are: Individual Golfer- $200; Foursome- $800; or Golf with a Legend Foursome (two available) – $2,000.
There are also sponsorship opportunities: Coach- $200; Green- $750; Tee – $750; Full Hole- $1,500.00 and one golf cart sponsorship – $2,500
For more information contact Nancy Whiting at [email protected], office phone 617-531-4662 or cell 508-282-1677.
To learn more about NEBC and the Ruffnecks visit www.neruffnecks.org.