Derek January, owner and general manager of the North Shore Navigators, said the Lynn-based franchise in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) will return for the 2021 season.
January said it was challenging season for the Navigators organization as it dealt with the state’s strict COVID-19 guidelines that prohibited spectators from attending the home games at Fraser Field.
“It was a tough season from an ownership standpoint where we had a lot of very good players but no one got to see them play for the Navs, unless they watched our games online,” said January, estimating that an average of more than 400 fans per game watched the games online.
January and his staff put together one of the most exciting teams in the franchise’s history. With the Cape Cod Baseball League canceling its season, several college players opted to play in the FCBL. For example, Boston College’s Sal Frelick of Lexington, a likely 2021 Major League draft pick, had an outstanding season for the Navigators batting .398 in the leadoff position.
Navigators fans no doubt would have enjoyed watching Marblehead’s Beau Dana, a 6-foot-2-inch righthander from Dickinson College who reportedly hit 97 miles per hour on the radar gun this season. Former St. Mary’s High School baseball star Ryan Turenne, who plays Division 1 college baseball at Maine, would likely have been a crowd favorite.
But there were no ticket sales at all at the Navigators’ box office.
“We had to refund all of our ticket sales,” said January. “It hurt a lot financially. The Navs averaged close to 1,000 fans per game in 2019. This was never about the money when our family purchased the team, but we wanted to make sure that we didn’t lose money and we lost a lot of money this year.”
Other supplementary sources of revenue, such as food concessions and souvenir sales, also never materialized due to the lack of spectators at games. Chomps, the Navigators’ popular mascot, was also a no-show for games due to the COVID-19 restrictions. There were no mascots this season at all FCBL venues.
The Navigators were set to unveil their new navy blue and burnt orange uniforms this season to fans across the FCBL. January said a limited number of fans were allowed to attend games in Nashua, N.H. (Silver Knights) and New Britain, Conn. (Bees).
“We’re putting together our online souvenir store so people will be able to purchase Navs’ gear and stuff in the next couple of weeks with our new logo and new colors,” said January. “The feedback was great for our new look. Everybody loves it.”
January said the organization had formulated a comprehensive plan in the spring “to make sure the city and fans knew what to expect at the ballpark” in the COVID-19 environment. “We just never got a chance to put our plan into place,” said January.
Jack Wallace, a Navigators’ pitcher from Winthrop and Franklin Pierce University, said he was grateful to the January family for giving him an opportunity to play a highly competitive brand of baseball this summer.
“It was an honor to play for the Navigators this season,” said Wallace. “We had a great group of players and it was a first-class organization. I just wish the fans could have come out and enjoyed our games.”
A former Swampscott Little League legend who played on back-to-back Massachusetts state champion 12-year-old teams and helped Frank DeFelice’s Swampscott High teams advance to three consecutive North sectional finals, Derek January pledged that the Navs will definitely return to Fraser Field in 2021.
“We started planning for next year back in July,” said January. “We look forward to seeing our loyal fans enjoying baseball in Lynn next summer.”