The summer-collegiate Futures Collegiate Baseball League is recognizing the Worcester Bravehearts with a few awards, including 2019 Organization of the Year and Executive of the Year for General Manger Dave Peterson.
The Bravehearts earned the league’s top honor for the fourth time in their six seasons (2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019) as they continue to help raise the bar for summer collegiate baseball in the New England region and nationwide both on and off the field.
In addition to the team’s honor, Bravehearts General Manager Dave Peterson was named the Futures League’s William J. Terlecky Executive of the Year. The award was recently named in honor of baseball lifer Bill Terlecky who completed eight seasons as the general manager of the North Shore Navigators before losing his battle with cancer earlier this month.
As Worcester advanced to its sixth straight championship series and won the Futures League title for the fourth time, fans continued to flood through the gates of Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field, which is located on the College of the Holy Cross campus. No summer collegiate team in New England welcomed in more fans on a total (72,069) and average (2,574) basis this season than the Bravehearts, with those marks placing sixth and seventh in the nation, respectively, in Ballpark Digest’s annual rankings. The total attendance also established a new league record.
Under direction of the Creedon & Co. ownership group and Peterson, Worcester’s 2019 season included a franchise-record nine sellouts, with the team breaking its single-game attendance record during two consecutive “Baseball in Education” games in June. Schools and youth groups dominated the crowd, totaling 10,090 fans, over those two days. The new attendance record (5,157) was set on June 6. Each student in those record-setting crowds received lunch and a free Bravehearts hat, standing as just one example of the team’s commitment in the community.
The Bravehearts hosted a Teacher Appreciation Night on which all teachers were admitted for free after showing their ID badge and nine from around Central Massachusetts were selected to coach first base for an inning. The team also wore three specialty jerseys throughout the season, donating the proceeds from succeeding auctions to local charities. Of course, the team’s mascot, Jake the Lion, was a fixture throughout the Worcester area, attending Little League parades, reading at schools, and participating in many other events.
Back in January, the Bravehearts and the Worcester Railers Hockey Club co-hosted the inaugural Worcester Sports Management Summit, an event for college students and recent graduates at Worcester State University that featured panel discussions and sessions with industry professionals from throughout New England.
Peterson is the FCBL’s Executive of the Year for the second time after taking home the honor following Worcester’s inaugural 2014 season. The Medway, Mass., native, who also received the “40 Under 40” Award from the Worcester Business Journal in 2011, has been guiding the Bravehearts since returning to the ballpark to take his current position upon their inception in October 2013.
Peterson has been a familiar face to Worcester baseball fans for 15 years, having also worked as the on-field master of ceremonies and then Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the former Worcester Tornadoes from 2005-10. In addition to his spearheading the Bravehearts’ efforts on the field and throughout the community, Peterson can still be found roaming the stands and firing up the crowd with his signature “rally dance” late in games.
On the field, the Bravehearts compiled a 30-26 record and, after finishing fourth in the FCBL standings, needed to win a single-elimination game against Pittsfield in order to continue through the week-long playoffs en route to another title. After beating the Suns, 10-1, Worcester took out top-seeded Brockton in three games and then swept Bristol to clinch the title. Two of the team’s wins came in no-hit fashion, including a combined season-opening triumph which Shawn Babineau, a Springfield College product who was 5-0 on the season, started.
Eleven Bravehearts were selected as FCBL All-Stars in July, including St. Thomas Aquinas right-hander Angelo Baez who was ultimately named FCBL Pitcher of the Year and started the deciding championship game against Bristol. In addition, St. Leo slugger Paul Coumoulos won the Home Run Derby. Along with Baez and Babineau, second baseman Mariano Ricciardi (Dayton) and designated hitter Ben Rice (Dartmouth) were named to the All-FCBL First Team after the season.