KEENE, NH – The Keene Swamp Bats made news before they ever played a game.
When a local group led by John and Kevin Watterson landed a team for Keene in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, it would be the league’s first team based in New Hampshire. The Swamp Bats made their debut in 1998 and have been making history and earning more than their share of headlines ever since.
The Swamp Bats have evolved into one of the marquee franchises in the NECBL, helping transform a league that was contained to a handful of Connecticut teams when it was founded in 1994 to one of the most respected summer leagues in the country.
“I remember the week leading up to our first home (at Alumni Field) not knowing what kind of crowd would show up,” Kevin Watterson says. “But this is a region that loves baseball and they have been behind us right from that first game.”
Keene opens its 20th season on Tuesday, June 6 at the Ocean State Waves in South Kingston, R.I., and makes its home debut at Alumni Field on Wednesday, June 7 against the Danbury Westerners at 6:30 p.m. There will be no worries about people showing up.
The Swamp Bats drew 26,106 over 21 home dates in 1998 and followed up by setting a then-NECBL record by drawing 33,111 people the following season. They have been one of the top drawing teams in the league and all of summer collegiate baseball. Among the highlights was hosting the NECBL-Cape Cod Baseball league all-star game in 2001 and hosting games against Team USA on four occasions.
While the have drawn some of the largest crowds in league history, they matched that success off the field by making the NECBL championship series six times and winning four league titles. From 2000-03, they reached the championship series four straight season and won two titles.
The Swamp Bats produced the first of 21 Major Leaguers to wear the Swamp Bats uniform in their inaugural season (Alfredo Amezaga). There are currently six former Swamp Bats in the big leagues and more than 60 in the minor leagues.
The Swamp Bats made a commitment to showcasing the best local talent and that was also evident in the team’s early years. They not only gathered the best players coming out of the immediate area (including former professional players Dan Moylan and Mike Sweeney from Keene High) but also around the state (former Major League pitcher Jeff Fulchino of Hollis and Trinity High was a member of the 1999 and 2000 teams).
The team plans to honor different eras in team history with six special nights when former players and coaches will be brought back, including a July 25th tribute to the many local players who have played for the Swamp Bats.
- Wednesday, June 7: 20th Anniversary Logo Shirt Giveaway
- Tuesday, June 27: TBD
- Friday, July 7: 20th Anniversary Draw String Bags
- Wednesday, July 12: 20th Anniversary Foam Finger Giveaway
- Tuesday, July 18: 2017 Team Poster Giveaway
- Tuesday, July 25: 20th Anniversary Cow Bell Giveaway