WORCESTER — Sunday was Leominster Day at Polar Park, bringing a flurry of hometown activities to the ballpark — including honoring city veterans — with proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.
Leominster Day was a continuation of the WooSox’s “Town Takeover” nights which brings different towns in the Central and Western Massachusetts region to the ballpark to watch a game by the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, which launched last year. Each ticket purchased goes toward a nonprofit in that community, with Leominster’s beneficiary being the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.
Ticket sales also count toward Leominster’s standing in the “Town Takeover” competition, which could see the city earn a trophy and “special recognition” from the WooSox at the end of the season.
During Sunday’s event, Boys & Girls Club Unit Director Rocco Spagnuolo and youth club members were invited onto the field and were recognized along with Leominster American Little League Major League team members and coaches, this year’s Massachusetts District 3 Champions.
There to throw out the ceremonial first pitch was lifelong city resident and City Council President Dave Cormier.
“I was very excited,” said Cormier, who was asked by Mayor Dean Mazzarella if he would be interested in the honor. “He knows how much I love to go there.”
In January, Cormier bought a season ticket package and said he remembered seeing one of the games was on July 24. He also remembered thinking it would be a great way to end the vacation he was returning home from. When he found out about Leominster Day at the ballpark, it was “perfect” timing.
“It was so special, and it was a great honor,” he said of throwing out the first pitch from the mound alongside Mazzarella.
Singing the national anthem for the Sunday matinee was longtime Fitchburg resident Alan Swartz who has sung at various events around the Twin Cities through the years. He said he “had the best time” singing the anthem and “all went extremely well in extremely high heat.”
“In the number of times I have sung the national anthem to this point, I have never had as many people come up to me afterwards and throughout the afternoon to compliment me on a job well done, especially veterans,” he said. “It is such a good feeling to know I am reaching people this way with our country’s anthem.”
Swartz was invited to watch the game from WooSox team President Charles Steinerg’s suite, whom he plays in a band with dubbed the WooSox Band, along with Mazzarella the ball players and Boys & Girls Club youth, and others, where they were all “treated royally with food and drink.”
Swartz said he was tickled to hear when he was introduced to sing that the announcer said, “you may recognize Alan as a member of the WooSox Band.”
Cormier praised Polar Park and the WooSox for supporting local organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club and the Little League team, saying “to them that is a big deal.”
“Polar Park has done a wonderful job marketing themselves and from what I’ve been told they have the largest attendance of any AAA team,” he said. “It is a great addition to the region, and you don’t have to break the bank and can enjoy something that is all-American.”