The Futures Collegiate Baseball League has named the Worcester Bravehearts its organization of the year.
Now in their third season, the Bravehearts have ranked at or near the top of the league in attendance each year and drew an average of 2,230 fans per night at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field in 2016. The team also cracked the top ten summer collegiate teams in the country for the first time this season, finishing 9th in total attendance and 10th in average attendance among 169 teams (according to our attendance figures). On the field, the team posted the league’s best regular season record and advanced to the championship series for the third-consecutive season before falling to the Nashua Silver Knights.
The 2016 season was also highlighted by the Futures League All Star Experience in Worcester on July 13th. The event featured a Scout Day, Home Run Derby, and All Star Game that showcased the top 70 prospects in the Futures League. A stadium-record 4,319 fans filled Hanover Insurance Park to take part in the Fitton Ave Fan Fest and see Worcester baseball celebrities Tim Collins, Ryan O’Rourke, Ron Perry and J.P. Ricciardi be honored on the field.
Under the ownership of the Creedon family and the direction of General Manager Dave Peterson, the Bravehearts also launched key initiatives in 2016 aimed at encouraging elementary school students to read and exercise. Jake the Lion’s “Exercise Your Mind” program rewards students with a free ticket to a Bravehearts game if they read ten or more books in a month. With the help of Saint Vincent Hospital, the program also encourages kids to set aside 60 minutes per day for physical activity. The program reached over 6,000 students in 2016 and is primed to expand in 2017. Another program named Jake’s Penpal Club connects 5th grade students with senior citizens through monthly penpal journals before they finally meet each other at a Bravehearts game in June.
The Bravehearts also had to overcome adversity this season after losing former Manager Justin Edwards to a position in Major League Baseball scouting just six weeks before the season began. Worcester-resident & Clark University coach J.P. Pyne was hired on May 8th to become the third Manager in the history of the team, and he and the coaching staff led the Bravehearts to an 11-3 record in the first two weeks of the season while remaining in first place for the majority of the summer.
“Win or lose, we strive for smiles,” said General Manager Dave Peterson on the team’s approach to customer service. “In all seasons and all types of weather, I want people to smile when they hear the name ‘Bravehearts’ or ‘Jake the Lion.’ There are so many people— Manager J.P. Pyne, Coaches Hartigan & Cummins, the Creedon family, our staff and interns— who deliver a winning product to the stadium each night to make sure that our fans have a great time when they come to a game.”
“The Worcester Bravehearts continue to enhance the caliber of the entire league and did a fantastic job hosting our League’s All Star Game this year,” said FCBL Commissioner, Chris Hall. “The league is proud of what they’ve been able to do in the City of Worcester in just three years, and we can’t wait to see where this momentum takes them in 2017.”
This is the second Organization of the Year Award for the Worcester Bravehearts, who also won the award in 2014.