Combining a global pandemic, an international economic crisis, and a 72-year-old founder doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success in collegiate summer baseball.
However, Bethesda Big Train founder and president Bruce Adams is back at the helm of the Cal Ripken League team he started in 1998 and he’s already looking ahead to 2021.
After spending the past eight seasons under Bethesda Chevy Chase (BCC) Baseball, the Big Train is back under the Baseball Community Base Ball Club (BCBBC). BCC Baseball is mainly focused on youth sports and worked with Adams and the Big Train to transfer stewardship of the team back to him after the 2020 summer season. When the Cal Ripken League announced the cancellation of their season on May 4, they moved up the plans and BCBBC retook stewardship of the team on June 1.
“I’m grateful to everything they did,” acting general manager Chris Rogers said. “They did a fantastic job throughout the eight years that they ran it and now I’m excited to be on board with the new organization. We can focus solely on Big Train which is good.”
Longtime manager Sal Colangelo became the director of baseball operations under the new stewardship. He’ll work with players who were on the roster for 2020 to give them a chance to return in 2021 if they’re interested. When the season was canceled, all players were released from their contracts, and their fees were refunded.
In order to get ready for the 2021 season, the Big Train launched the “BIG susTRIANability campaign” and are hoping to raise $60,000. Adams estimates they raised close to $13,000 in the first week. Donors will receive perks such as a face mask with the Big Train logo, 2021 season passes, or a customized seat plaque at Povich Field.
“Give your money to these other community heroes,” Adams said. “That’s first, but if you’ve got extra money and you love the small town charm and the big league talent that we produce at Povich Field, send a little money our way as well.”
The Big Train usually plays about three home games per week, and Adams wanted to give fans ways to stay engaged from home. They launched BigTrain.TV which began last Friday with “Nopening Night.” Despite rain in Bethesda, Maryland the show started on time and featured a national anthem, ceremonial first pitch, and highlights from 2019 season, allowing fans to connect with the Big Train on what would have been opening night of the 2020 season.
Shows will air three times a week at 7 p.m. eastern time, starting on June 8. Monday’s show will be “Talking Baseball” where Colangelo will conduct live interviews with college players and coaches about their time with the Big Train and other baseball experiences. Tuesday’s show will be “Safe at Home Tuesday” where Adams will interview influential baseball figures such as Mike Veeck, Bill Veeck’s son, and Maury Povich, Shirley Povich’s son. Thursday’s show is “Top 10 Thursday” where they will relive the Top 10 games in Big Train history.
“2020 is a rough year for baseball fans,” Adams said. “so we’re trying to give them substance this summer.”
Plans are already underway for special events in 2021 including the return of Cicada eating at Povich Field, rescheduling the Israel-Bethesda Friendship game from this summer to next July, and the first Roberto Clement Community Service day.