The following press release was submitted by Michael Falcone, Director of Baseball Operations for the Newport Gulls Baseball Club.
Unfortunately, 2020 was the first summer without Newport Gulls baseball since 2000. Cities and towns throughout New England experienced the same void as the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), which features 13 teams across the region, cancelled the season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the calendar resets there is great optimism among the Newport Gulls as well as the New England Collegiate Baseball League who are preparing to return to play this upcoming summer.
Newport Gulls President & General Manager Chuck Paiva served as the Commissioner of the George Donnelly Sunset League prior to taking over the reins of the Gulls after competing collegiately at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. “This was the first summer I can remember where I wasn’t at the baseball field nearly every night of the week”, said Paiva. He added, “I took this time to spend more time with my family which we have not be able to do in recent years but have continued to think about how we can return in 2021 to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.”
As Paiva alluded, 2020 was set to be the Newport Gulls 20th season at Cardines Field. Celebratory events were planned for former players, coaches, interns, volunteers, host families, fans, and all of the Gulls Family to take part in. Additionally, the Gulls were selected to host the 2020 NECBL All-Star Game. The 20th Anniversary Celebration and All-Star Game will now happen in 2021.
Sean McGrath, Commissioner of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, offered these remarks when asked about 2021, “Although it was a difficult decision to cancel the 2020 season back in May, our league has used this time out, and all our recourses, to make our 2021 season something truly special for our players, coaches, and fans.” Commissioner McGrath also states, “The league’s planning committees have been meeting frequently via teleconferences to discuss what changes, if any, need to be made to ensure the safety of our 13 organization’s and their respective communities.”
Neither the Newport Gulls or the NECBL have released official procedures for the upcoming season but Gulls Director of Operations Michael Falcone notes “We have actively monitored the medical advancements and safe practices set forth by governmental and healthcare professionals and are working on our internal plan for the 2021 season.” Falcone continues, “Everything continues to change and a lot can happen from now until Opening Day in June, but it is extremely encouraging to see the release of a vaccine and improvements in testing.”
Paiva and Gulls Vice President Chris Patsos lead the team’s player recruitment process. There are currently 31 collegiate student-athletes that hail from throughout the country signed to the 2021 roster. Each of the 13 NECBL franchises have a similar number of players committed to play in the coming season. When asked about the players signed for 2021, Patsos responded “Chuck and I have remained consistent with the characteristics we have always looked for in Gulls- good ballplayers but more so, great young men. We will continue to stay in communication with the players and their coaches about playing guidelines and procedures but as of now, it’s great to see how excited the players are to come to Newport to compete. We are equally excited for their arrival!”
“As of now, it is full speed ahead,” said Director of Operations Michael Falcone. The team has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help offset some of the operating expenses perennially supported by local sponsors. “As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Gulls have always relied on the generosity of sponsors, the majority of which are small-businesses. These businesses have been among the hardest hit, so we have turned to our Family and the response has been tremendous”, added Falcone.
20k for 20 Years is the fundraiser’s theme, asking those that have made the previous 20 years so special to allow for another 20 years of memories to be made. More information can be found via http://pointstreaksites.com/view/newportgulls/20th-anniversary-fundraiser. The Gulls are currently halfway to their goal of $20,000.
Please stay tuned to the Newport Gulls Social Media Accounts and www.newportgulls.com for updated information about the upcoming season. “On behalf of the Newport Gulls, we wish everyone health and happiness in 2021. It is our goal to present family-friendly entertainment and high-quality baseball again this summer and are hard at work ensuring the safety of all that are involved in making this happen remains paramount”, concluded Paiva.
The Newport Gulls, members of the 13-team New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded as the Rhode Island Gulls in 1998 in Cranston, R.I., before moving to Newport in 2001. In addition to recruiting, fielding, and developing a team of the nation’s top collegiate baseball athletes and attracting 50,000 fans annually to Cardines Field, the predominantly volunteer organization strives to benefit the community of Newport County via summer camps, reading programs, fundraisers, scholarships, and charitable donations – totaling over $1 million since 2001. The Gulls are six-time champions of the NECBL – the winningest franchise in league history – and were ranked as the overall No. 1 summer collegiate baseball team in the country by Perfect Game USA in 2012.
For more information about the Newport Gulls, visit facebook.com/newportgulls, follow the Gulls on Twitter @NewportGulls or visit www.newportgulls.com.