By BILL ABRAMSON
NEW BEDFORD — Speculation of the demise of the New Bedford Bay Sox after their lease expired is premature.
Team ownership and the City of New Bedford, through Mayor Scott W. Lang, have executed a 3-year extension for use of Dr. Paul Walsh Field at New Bedford High School, pending approval of the School Committee on Oct. 17.
“This is the same lease as before,” Bay Sox CEO Robin Wadsworth said. “We’ve extended it for three years and we have no reason to believe there is any problem. We have met all the requirements of the last lease. As of right now, there’s not one bit of change.”
Where there is no change anticipated for the team on the field, there will be change in the highest levels of the team administration.
Last year, Jim and Effie Dragon purchased 10 percent of the team with an option to become majority owners. That option expired Aug. 31.
However, the Bay Sox will have a new partner as Pat O’Connor and his wife, Beth of Essex, Vt., have purchased a share of the team.
“I will be actively involved, in partnership with Robin and Rita (Hubner),” Pat O’Connor said. “I have a lot of respect for what they have done the last few years with the Bay Sox.
“My title will be president and I can get online and reach everybody I need to. Certainly, at times when I need to be in New Bedford, I can be there as I learn the business the next six months. We have pretty good chemistry among the three of us. The partnership will take this team to a new level. It’ll take time and we’ll make some mistakes, but people will appreciate what we’re doing.”
O’Connor, a senior manager of a software development group at IBM, is the classic baseball junkie, but his involvement in baseball goes far beyond the game itself.
His back yard (about 10 acres) was named one of the top 10 backyards in America. The presence of a built-to-scale mini Fenway Park and a mini Wrigley Field may have something to do with that.
“I started little Fenway in Vermont and turned it into a successful community-oriented philanthropic organ that bridges the gap between community and responsibility,” O’Connor said.
He holds wiffle ball tournaments is his back yard and raises money for a variety of charities. Thus far, the major benefactor has been the Travis Roy Foundation, begun by the family of the Boston University hockey player who was paralyzed in his first varsity game 16 years ago.
“We’ll still have the Travis Roy Tournament in August, after the Bay Sox season,” O’Connor said. “So far, we’ve raise around $2 million for the foundation. We have started foundations for type-1 diabetes, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a local organization (the Jared Williams Foundation) to aid families with chronically ill children and other causes.
“The nice thing about the field is that wiffle ball is designed for anyone who can play. The fields are smaller because the ball doesn’t travel as far. We’ve added seats in right field and a lighted Citgo sign at mini-Fenway, but we still have the left field net and the look of Fenway of 2001. Because the Travis Roy Foundation became so big, we built little Wrigley.
“I’ve written a book ‘Little Fenway,’ and co-authored ‘The Green Mountain Boys of Summer.’ I have baseball in my blood and I’m looking forward to working with the community. This isn’t about me, but the charity work we do.”
October 11, 2011 12:00 AM
By BILL ABRAMSON