Boston BASE Astros

First BASE

Boston Astros will make first trip to Johnstown next week

The AAABA will welcome a new franchise to Johnstown this year when the BASE Astros from Boston begin play on Monday. The BASE program was founded in the late 1970s and has been built around a mission to "ensure that each student athlete graduates from high school and is equipped with a winning game plan for life." Per their website, the group has served over 8,000 players and 600 teams in the Boston area and have competed in tournaments around the country. Sports Illustrated's Peter Gammon called the Astros "hands down, the best urban baseball team in America."

"We look to provide our players with a methodology using baseball as a vehicle to make sure we're giving them the resources and life skills to where our guys are successful on and off the field," explained franchise representative Jimmy Caruso. "In a nutshell, what we're trying to do is build great citizens."

Making friends quickly in the AAABA

"We were introduced to the AAABA by Bob Godlewski [from Schenectady]," said Caruso. After doing research into the association, Caruso applied for membership and then traveled to the annual meeting in Florida where the other franchises unanimously approved his application.

While in Florida, Caruso met up with veteran Brooklyn manager Jerry Katzke. Brooklyn's Bonnie Rams already made an annual trip to Boston on July 4th weekend, and after speaking with Caruso, they decided to include a double-header against the Astros. The teams tied 2-2 in the first match and Boston won the second 6-3.

"I was talking to some of the older guys [from the Rams]. . . about the tournament and they actually showed me some of the pictures of the night game with almost 5,000 people in there," Caruso marveled. "For a lot of our guys, if we happen to get a night game, that would be the first time we've ever played in front of a crowd like that. So, it's exciting."

"They're a very similar team to us in that both are minority-based team," said Katzke of his Rams and Caruso's Astros. "They're team is probably a little more Hispanic than our team is, but it's a very similar type of organization." Based on their performance against the Bonnie Rams, coach Katzke expects the Astros to field a competitive team in the tournament.

The first look at Boston

The BASE League had 10 teams competing this year from several Boston neighborhoods, including Marlboro, Lowell, and East Boston. The Astros won the league and will be the first Boston team to play in the AAABA tournament. They will be managed by Stephen Lewis. Traditionally, a new franchise would play in a regional during its inaugural year. For Boston, however, the AAABA has elected to give them a direct bid their first year followed by regional play the next two.

"We have pretty good pitching depth," said Caurso of his team. He expects to bring a full roster of 20 to the tournament, although a few might have to return to school prior to the beginning of the tournament.

Frankely Gonzalez, a sophomore at Western Oklahoma State College, will play short-stop and was described as "the best defensive player I've personally ever seen play the position" by Caruso. Anchoring the outfield will be Sean Webster, a sophomore at Southern New Hampshire University, who has been with the Astro's program since he was 10 years old. Caruso is also excited to be bringing 18-year-old Manny Peguero to pitch, who--despite being one of the younger members of the team--is very talented and is expected to be a contributor.

Fans in Johnstown are eagerly awaiting Boston's first game. If the Astros are placed in the lower bracket, they might even be drawn to play on opening night.  Regardless of the results, however, Johnstowners will be happy to have a new team to celebrate in the AAABA national tournament.

"I just want to say to all the people in Johnstown, but particularly the Board of Directors of the AAABA, thank you for allowing us this opportunity to come down there," said Caurso. "We're excited to come down to Johnstown and show you how we play ball up in Boston."

Related History

Boston is the sixth Massachusetts-based franchise and first since Milford in 2002. Milford competed in 34 tournaments which was more than all other Massachusetts franchises combined: Holyoke (11), Pittsfield (9), Waterbury (6), and Springfield (5).

Boston becomes the newest franchise, a title previously held by Livonia, which joined in 1981. Columbus had joined in 1978 and Youngstown in 1973. There have also been several younger franchises that have ceased competing in recent years: Beckley (2003-2004), Cincinnati (1975-2007), Elk County (1997-2011), Miami (2010-2011), and Toledo (2009-2011).


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