When the New England Baseball Complex was nothing more than a dream, coaches and administrators in the New England Ruffnecks program looked to the future with the goal of creating a professional environment in which to develop baseball players. After all, fields and facilities are the key to providing development. The formula for baseball development has evolved for over 150 years through a combination of Spring Training complexes, indoor hitting facilities, and equipment. At the NEBC we have access to the same developmental tools as most top colleges and universities. Our framework is based on a professional model, and while we do not have the extensive playing and practice facilities of a Jet Blue Park (Spring Training Home to the Red Sox), we have an extraordinary facility in Northborough. It means a number of very good things for the Ruffnecks, our players, teams, and families.
We attract dedicated baseball players to our rosters. Our base of operations has been Metro West of Boston, and continues to be so. The move to Northborough constitutes a shift of approximately 15-20 miles west to a more central, Massachusetts, and New England location. Over the years we have had many players travel from Vermont, New Hampshire, Western Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The dedication of our core players, regardless of where they live, continues to define our Ruffnecks rosters. We expect our central location to provide an opportunity to attract more talented players who can reach us comfortably. Metro West remains an integral part of our roster composition as the NEBC is accessible with greater ease to those communities.
We Control Our Fields
The Ruffnecks have always dedicated considerable resources to playing on the best available surfaces in our area. Babson College and Harvard University have been the two “home bases” for our practices and playing facilities. Indeed, we intend to continue relationships with both institutions. However, we now have the unique opportunity to control our own fields. This means we can schedule practices at advantageous times; we can conduct Ruffnecks developmental programs for our own constituents and for players from outside the program; we can do things such as taking full-field BP, extra positional work, bullpen sessions… all with immediate access to spectacular facilities.
Many people have asked if the Ruffnecks will be adding teams. The answer is that we have no intention of adding teams or departing from what our core mission is as a college development program. Of course we will be able to host tournaments, play more home games, and attend events at the NEBC with greater ease and convenience. But we are still, first and foremost, a very competitive travel baseball program. We will be on the road as we have been in the past. We will travel and compete at the top events in the country. Our players crave the travel, fuel themselves on the competition, and define their aspirations through their experiences as Ruffnecks on the road. The difference is that when we are “home” we will be HOME, with all the resources at our disposal.
Clinics and Extended Ruffnecks Developmental Programs
We are gathering ourselves to learn, listen, and to design clinics and developmental programs that we can extend to the greater baseball community of our region. We will certainly be developing programs to teach the game to 12U and younger age groups, even though the Ruffnecks have no intention of fielding 12U and younger teams. The NEBC will host tournaments and games for players in those ages, but the Ruffnecks will continue to begin our development program at 13U, on the big diamond. In the next year we will offer programs to help coaches at the younger levels organize and run efficient and enjoyable practices. We will offer Ruffnecks development clinics and programs for town teams, individuals, and groups. We will do what we can to share this unique opportunity to build baseball and to work with other terrific organizations in the area to grow their own teams and programs. Our goal is for the Ruffnecks program to maintain its integrity as a serious program for focused and talented players. We believe we can achieve this at the same time we support substantive opportunities for players and teams outside the Ruffnecks family. We embrace the challenge.