HOLYOKE – While many college baseball players throughout the country pack their bags in preparation to play in the best summer leagues around the country, for Pioneer Valley native and Blue Sox infielder Frank Crinella, Mackenzie Stadium is just around the corner from his hometown of East Longmeadow.
After a rewarding summer of 2013 with the Pittsfield Suns and the recent interest from the Cape Cod League, getting the chance to play with the Blue Sox was an opportunity Crinella couldn’t refuse.
“I never like going far away,” Crinella said. After humbly admitting the thought that the Valley Blue Sox were a pro team growing up, he added, “The Blue Sox is an awesome organization; it’s so close to home and I didn’t want to miss my chance to play with them.”
The Northeast-10’s Player of the Year and former Cathedral star has made headlines for Merrimack College in North Andover, but he never will forget where his roots lie.
“I can honestly say transferring from East Longmeadow schools to Cathedral was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The switching of school systems was a big help. Along with meeting a great group of people, I made a great reputation for myself,” Crinella said.
As a two-sport athlete in high school, the Division 1 baseball programs itching at the opportunity to work with him was just the start. Hockey recruiters were also interested in the top-line forward who helped lead his team to the Super-8 Tournament his senior year.
With the help from his baseball coach, Pat Moriarty, Crinella was able to focus on making the right choice for his future.
“Coach Moriarty was somebody who watched me growing up and a guy I really look up to. He just wanted me to always do well,” he said. “That’s kind of what Cathedral is about. It’s a brotherhood and everybody’s there to help you out.”
Crinella added, “I had options ranging from all divisions but I was set on Merrimack. It was a great decision. We had a great group of guys with a lot of energy.”
Crinella brings that same energy from the Merrimack Warriors right to his home field at Mackenzie Stadium.
“I never really played on a summer team where we clicked as soon as I did with the Blue Sox. I feel like we’re all best friends. Even when we’re not doing well we’re still so close. We come from all over but we’re a pretty close knit group of guys.”
Given this opportunity to play in the Valley, Crinella is able to share his experience with family and friends.
“It makes me feel good that my parents can come out and not have to travel far to see me play. Being at home and having them in the crowd is just so comforting. It’s a good feeling when I’m playing in front of local people that I know,” he said.
As for friends, Crinella isn’t shy when making new relationships. Whether it’s swimming at this family’s spot on the Connecticut River or spending all night watching his phone go off with group texts, Crinella is at the center of all the action.
“It’s pretty cool having my home friends become friends with my teammates. It’s good to see because it makes the time here more welcoming and more like home.”
Even with his busy schedule, Crinella’s inspiring motivation and determination are keeping him on top of his game. Majoring in finance and upholding a 3.5 GPA, his future remains his top priority.
“I want to keep playing. I need to get stronger, bigger, and keep progressing,” he said. “Hopefully with all the hard work that I put in, it will all work out and I’ll land something.
“Success is never final,” he continued.
The Valley Blue Sox will host an All-Star Brunch prior to the NECBL All-Star Game on July 20 from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. on the 12th floor of the La Quinta Hotel in downtown Springfield.
Pioneer Valley native Mike Trombley, a retired Major League pitcher and Valley native, will be the guest speaker at the brunch. Trombley pitched in more than 500 Major League games from 1992-2002, primarily with the Minnesota Twins.
The players and coaches participating in the All-Star Game will be in attendance.
“The All-Star Brunch is a unique way for fans to get to meet with one of the best athletes to ever come out of the Valley as well as with future Major League stars,” team owner Clark Eckhoff said.
Tickets to the brunch are $35, and include a ticket to the All-Star Game, which will take place at Mackenzie Stadium, with the gates opening at noon, the Home Run Derby at 2:15 p.m., and the All-Star Game itself at 5:05 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at valley-blue-sox.ticketleap.com/all-star-brunch
or by calling the Blue Sox at 533-1100.
The event will feature a brunch buffet including ham, a waffle bar, pastries, and other breakfast foods. It will be catered by Log Rolling, owned and operated by The Log Cabin/Delaney House.