NEWPORT (WPRI) – College baseball players hadn’t played in competitive live games since early March when the coronavirus pandemic shutdown the sports world. But on Friday, that all changed. The newly-formed Newport Collegiate Baseball League (NCBL) had Opening Day at Cardines Field, featuring all four teams in the league.
The majority of players are from Southern New England. Many play at Division I schools, but the league showcases plenty of top-end Division II and Division III talent. All the players and coaches stressed their gratitude for Commissioner Mike Falcone for doing all the work behind the scenes in order to make playing this summer possible.
“I’m glad the coaches and Mr. Falcone could work it out with the City of Newport because this is priceless,” former Bishop Hendricken star and current UConn Husky Caleb Wurster said.
“It feels like a brand new game. We’ve been away from it for so long. I’ve probably never been away from this game this long since I was six years old. So to go this long and then be able to play and with guys that I know from growing up in Rhode Island, it’s awesome.”
Falcone, the Director of Baseball Operations for the NECBL’s Newport Gulls started working on creating the league in early May when the NECBL, Cape Cod League, and others around the country were forced to cancel. The hard work the past two months paid off, and he says he’s happy for the guys who are able to play and benefit from this experience.
“The coaches are happy, and the players are super excited to be on the ball field, Falcone said.
“You can tell there was something special going on. I couldn’t be happier for the guy’s doing it.”
The NCBL will play all its games at Cardines Field. Every team will play one game on Thursday, Friday and Sunday through July and into August. Once the 18-game regular season wraps up, the league is planning to have playoffs and crown a champion on Aug. 19.
While there are no fans allowed in the stadium, there are plenty of places to watch the action from just outside the outfield fence.