The Lowell Spinners braved through on and off thunderstorms to kick off their 20th season at LeLacheur Park on Monday Night, June 18th.
Mayor William Samaras and City Manager Eileen Donoghue were on hand to throw out ceremonial first pitches.
While the manager’s grand nephew was able to fill in for her, the mayor had to do the honors himself…and he did not disappoint!
The Lowell Spinners arrived in Lowell in the summer of 1996 when the Elmira Pioneers of the NY-Penn League relocated to the Mill City. The Spinners played their first two seasons at Lowell High School’s Alumni Field while LeLacheur Park was being built along the banks of the Merrimack River through a partnership between the City of Lowell and the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The ballpark was built by HOK Sport (now known as Populous), a firm responsible for some of the most influential major league stadiums in the country such as Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, JetBlue Park at Fenway South.
The original owner of the Spinners was Clyde Smoll, but the team was soon sold to Drew and Joann Weber in 1997. The Webers owned the team until 2016 when it was purchased by current owner Dave Heller. The street alongside the ballpark will be named Joann and Drew Weber way in a ceremony on June 20th.
Wilton Veras, a member of the inaugural Lowell team, was the first Spinner to make it to the major leagues. Although he didn’t have the biggest of impacts on Major League Baseball, other Spinners alumni such as World Series champions Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jacoby Ellsbury certain have. The current Red Sox all-star caliber outfield of Jackie Bradley, Jr., Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi all had their start in Lowell. All told, 108 former Spinners have gone on to play in the Major Leagues to date, and the number is growing.
In addition to the high quality players, the Spinners have become well known for their wildly entertaining promotions. Although all Minor League Baseball teams have been known to be a little wacky, the Spinners’ antics have stood out. Last summer, LeLacheur Park was named the best short season single A ballpark in the entire country by Ballpark Digest.
In addition to hosting the Spinners, LeLacheur Park is home to the UMass Lowell River Hawks baseball team, area high school tournaments, and other non-baseball events such as the City’s Fourth of July celebration and even professional wrestling.
The Spinners will play 38 home games at LeLacheur Park this season with a fun variety of promotions ranging from the ever collectible Bobbleheads to an appearance by Stanley Hudson from The Office. Be sure to visit www.lowellspinners.com for all the latest news and updates on the team.