'Rising Stars' Find a Home at University Baseball Field
The Rising Stars, the first baseball team made up of city players since the 1960s to play in the Greater Hartford Twilight League, will play 12 home games this summer at the new University of Hartford field. The team will open its home season tonight (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. against the Bristol Merchants.
"It is a gift that the University of Hartford has opened its doors to the Rising Stars and given this team a home," said David Kaplan, a team backer. "Many of our players have never been on the campus of a major university. It is inspiring."
The team, which takes its name from Mayor Eddie Perez's charitable fund, is made up of 25 young men from the Hartford area. Prior to the start of the season, the Rising Stars learned their home field at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield was not playable. The search for a new home field began, though financial restraints left the team with few options.
"The fact that this team of Hartford players exists at all is amazing," said Kaplan. "And then, at the 11th hour to find we had no field to play on was crushing. Having a home field at the University of Hartford is inspiring for the players and, quite frankly, saved the season and the team."
Admission to all Rising Stars games is free. The remainder of the schedule is as follows (all start times are 6 p.m.): June 8 vs. ProCare; June 13 vs. Vernon Orioles; June 21 vs. Mr. G's; June 22 vs. Foss Insurance; June 27 vs. People's Bank; June 29 vs. Avon Legion; July 5 vs. People's Bank; July 18 vs. Avon Legion; July 20 vs. Bill's Sport Shop; July 25 vs. Simsbury; July 27 vs. EH Jets.
The University inaugurated its new baseball field in March, marking the first time in more than 20 years that the Hawks have been able to play home games on campus. The baseball field is one of three new fields that were built over the past year (the other two are for soccer/lacrosse and softball) as part of the University's "Home Field Advantage" campaign.
"The University of Hartford intends to work hard to find a solid balance between community and institutional usage of our new facilities," said Director of Athletics Pat Meiser-McKnett. "Our community partners are very important to us, and we understand their need for recreation space. The University, as it has demonstrated in so many ways, will continue to be involved in this community's long-term development."