New baseball league gets its season started

NASHUA – Holman Stadium has always been the home of baseball independence. After all, the Nashua Pride were part of the big movement back in the mid-to-late 1990s on the professional baseball level for independent leagues.

Well, that concept has reached the upper youth levels as well. Last Sunday, the New England Independent Baseball League (NEIBL) kicked off with a four-game jamboree at Holman.

“We’re really hoping to make this a special event,” NEIBL Director-At-Large Mike Coy said.

The league is comprised of teams with players ages 15-19 from the now-defunct Southern Senior Babe Ruth League. What happened? Coy and others discovered dwindling participation, and felt that the competition with AAU programs, Junior American Legion, and others were too much to combat.

“The name ‘Babe Ruth’ made it seem like a rec league,” Coy said. “Kids just weren’t playing Babe Ruth baseball. We’re offering more than Senior Babe Ruth offers anyway. But we found out that there were a lot of towns in the same boat.”

The league has 11 teams, and interest is so high, three teams had to be turned away at the last minute. There are two divisions, East and West.

In the East will be A&B Nashua, Belmont, Derry, Londonderry, and the familiar Nashua Chiefs, whom Coy manages. In the West will be Concord (Mass.), Hollis Brookline, New Hampshire Knights, Walpole and the Weare Nationals. Five of the teams were originals from the Southern Babe Ruth League.

There will be weekly clinics given as well, mainly on Wednesdays, moving around to different locations.

“We’re looking for fields for those that have the cache of a Holman Stadium,” Coy said.

The league games will be seven innings, playing a 20-game schedule (mainly Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) with playoffs to follow.

Will it have a chance to become more regional?

“There’s been a lot of interest from other teams and towns in Massachusetts,” Coy said. “We could be as many as 15 teams next year.”