By Cary Shuman
For the Free Press
Baseball is returning to East Boston in a big way this summer.
Geoffrey Harris and Eric Bellavia, co-owners of the East Boston Knights, are leading the team into its inaugural season in the Yawkey Baseball League, an amateur loop for players ages 18 and over that has been in existence since the 1950s. There are 16 teams in the league.
“Our tag line is ‘Bringing Baseball Back to East Boston,’ because it seems like all the East Boston amateur teams start up and then they just take off,” said Harris. “Dave McKay, president of the Yawkey League, has stressed to us that he really likes having baseball back in East Boston and that there are some good neighborhood rivalries with communities like Southie and Revere.”
Harris, 32, will be an infielder for the Knights while Bellavia, 33, will serve as player-manager.
East Boston has hosted amateur baseball teams in the past decade. The East Boston Blue Sox, under the direction of Donald King and Paul DeLeo, played in the Yawkey League for three seasons. The East Boston Bombers, led by Ronald Jordan Jr., have competed in the Intercity League since 2006.
The Knights players, who will wear blue and gold uniforms this season, have been practicing weekly at Batter’s Alley in Woburn. All of the team’s practices are videotaped and shown on the team’s Web site, eastbostonknights.com.
“We’re taking amateur baseball to a new level,” said Harris. “We bought a video camera and we You Tube every single practice. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Lifelong athletes themselves and graduates of East Boston Little League (EBLL), Harris and Bellavia are hoping to conduct instructional clinics for youth baseball players in the community.
“We want to offer our free assistance to youth baseball leagues and youth programs at the Umana School in an effort to rekindle interest in East Boston Little League,” said Bellavia.
Harris is a graduate of East Boston High School, where he was a teammate of [NFL player] Jermaine Wiggins in the Jets’ football program. Harris went on to play baseball at the University of Massachusetts/Boston. Bellavia played high school baseball at Boston Tech.
The Knights will feature a talented contingent of players on their 25-man roster including East Boston product Mike Tanner and Matt Perrin, the former Park League Rookie of the Year.
The Knights will play their home games at East Boston Stadium (Sartori Field) and Noyes Park. Admission to games will be free. One of the games will be televised on Comcast. A baseball show about the Yawkey League is shown regularly on Boston cable television.
The team owners said start-up expenses for the Knights team have been approximately $10,000. Team sponsorships are available to local businesses for $260. Sponsors’ names will be displayed on a banner at all home games
The Knights will hold a fundraiser on Friday, April 9, from 7 to 11 p.m., at Beachmont VFW, 150 Bennington St., Revere. There will be dinner and entertainment provided by Bighead Moose Productions.
State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli and City Councilor Sal LaMattina, who have been instrumental in launching the team in East Boston, will be attending the fundraiser.