The SteepleCats organization is a collegiate summer baseball team that brings the best college baseball players from across the country to play summer baseball at Joe Wolfe Field. The team is part of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a premier summer league that is known for its superb competition. The team operates as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that depends entirely on community support and volunteers for its existence and continued operation. Its Board of Trustees is comprised of local community investors, who support the team with generous donations, and other members of the community representing a broad cross section of the Northern Berkshires. The team is supported by the city of North Adams, Hoosac Bank as Presenting Sponsor and over 100 additional businesses.
The North Adams SteepleCats’ mission is simple: to field the best collegiate summer baseball team in America and to provide its fans the best summer family entertainment available anywhere. The team’s focus is to provide its players an environment in which they can nurture and develop their baseball skills and, by working hard on the field and regularly facing superb competition, take their game to the next level.
Founded by John Watterson and his grandson Jon of Keene, NH, the SteepleCats played their inaugural game at Joe Wolfe Field in North Adams in June 2002. After two successful seasons with the team reaching the playoffs each year, the Watterson family sold the team to a local ownership group that allowed the SteepleCats to remain in North Adams.
The consensus of SteepleCat fans and community leaders: great baseball, great family entertainment, and a great community asset. And in its inaugural seven years, the SteepleCats have earned the reputation for being a first class baseball organization.
Laz Gutierrez, former SteepleCats head coach and pitching coach, said, "It’s been a great experience. I was fortunate as a player. I played two summers in the Virginia Valley league, which is one of the premier leagues as well. North Adams is such a great place and I get to compare it to the Valley, and right now I’d say the SteepleCat organization runs a first class organization here."
Will Romanowicz, a former SteepleCat from Stetson University, wrote: "The best thing about the Steeple Cats was the environment and way in which the team was run and supported. The city, host families and management . . . were always very supportive and excited on game days. As far as the field is concerned - It is one of the most memorable places I have been privileged enough to play at. Going to the park everyday was not a chore- the scenery and stadium was awesome."
Finally, Ryan Craft, a SteepleCat when he was a senior at Georgetown University, wrote: "I could not have dreamed of a better summer experience. Sean and John, and [the coaches] put on the best thing that I have ever been a part of as a baseball player. The fan support, the night games and entertainment - it was sports at its purest, baseball at its finest . . . You have my utmost respect, and I think everyone on the team felt the same way."
In North Adams, SteepleCats baseball is the great common denominator that builds community and brings people together. Having the SteepleCats in North Adams provides a gathering place for every citizen that cuts across social and economic lines and gives the summer a good texture and feel.
For the talented college athletes that come to North Adams, becoming a SteepleCat means more than joining a baseball team and becoming a better baseball player; it also means belonging to a family and becoming part of a unique community experience. One player aptly summed up his summer in North Adams this way: "Being a SteepleCat was an honor and privilege; the baseball was great but there was something special we all could feel - it was the ultimate summer baseball experience."