NECBL a platform to success on and off the field
Jul 15, 2011
Courtesy of Society for American Baseball Research
The New England Collegiate Baseball League is a wooden-bat summer league that plays a 42-game schedule from June through August. Since 1993, the NECBL has attracted talented college baseball players from around the nation to compete. Scores of NECBL alumni have continued their baseball careers in the ranks of professional baseball and/or coaching at all levels of the game. Among the league’s alumni are Joe Nathan of the Minnesota Twins, Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals.
The NECBL also provides opportunities for people seeking to break into the ranks of sports management, broadcasting, and coaching. Moreover, the NECBL offers an atmosphere for its players that builds character and allows them to hone their skills on the field. Two players who exemplify the league's mission are Jacob Lee and Daniel Wright of the Newport Gulls.
Lee is a starter for the Gulls, and a rising senior from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Wright is a relief pitcher for the Gulls, and a rising junior from Bartlett, Tennessee. They are teammates at Arkansas State University.
As of mid-July, both players are enjoying a fine campaign in the NECBL, each sporting a stingy earned-run average of just over one run per nine innings pitched.
Wright explains that in terms of competition, the NECBL is not as consistent as what they are accustomed to in the Sun Belt Conference. Even still, he says, “it’s a pretty good league.”
Both players agree that their primary goal in 2012 is to win the Sun Belt Conference championship, and to have an opportunity to compete in the NCAA regional tournament.
While in Newport, their objective is to continue learning and developing their skills, which will go a long way in helping them contribute to their team’s success next spring.
Playing in Newport offers each young man a chance to experience a regional culture much different from that of the lower Mississippi River delta region. (When asked what he misses most while living in Newport, Lee answered, “Miss? Sweet tea!”) Lee and Wright, however, are quite pleased with the cool and comfortable New England summer weather, avoiding the humidity of their hometowns in the South. Furthermore, they are impressed by how much there is to do and the good food they have enjoyed in their temporary summer home. On balance, however, NECBL players stay busy and have little free time.
NECBL players are expected to earn their keep during their time in the league. At Newport, Lee and Wright work for the Gulls’ summer baseball camp. The camp provides baseball instruction for children ages 6 to 12 for three hours Mondays through Thursdays. Lee and Wright work with the campers, sharing their skills and knowledge of the game. After the camp ends, they begin their own workouts and are expected to be at the ballpark by 3:30 p.m. for home games. Often, they are lucky to get home by midnight before it all begins again the next day.
Hopeful for a chance to play professional baseball one day, both Lee and Wright have solid post-baseball career ambitions. Lee, a sports marketing major, plans to attend law school and work in the sports industry. Wright, an engineering major, hopes to own his own engineering business.
Paul Edwards is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Learn more by visiting http://SABR.org.