New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

The Sports Journal

Annual Baseball Social Planned for Jan. 23

For over 110 years, the New Britain High School Baseball program has had a rich tradition that includes two state championships and countless conference titles. They have seen thousands of players come through with hundreds of them racking up individual and team awards. They are coming off a season in which they advanced to the second round of the state tournament before losing a thriller to Manchester. While they have lost a lot of their senior players, head coach Roberto Mercado is still expecting great things this year in 2015.

“Building off last year’s success has already begun. Guys are working out in the offseason and getting better. They understand that we graduated 13 players and they are hungry to try to earn a spot on the varsity roster,” Mercado said. Many players were on the bench last year during our state tournament run. They saw what it took to be successful. We will basically have a new team, which means new opportunities for players to play and grow. We have two returning starters, Elvin Silva and Tyree Burns. We are looking for them to be leaders on and off the field.”

Their goals for 2015 remain the same as they are every season – to qualify for the state tournament, to win the conference and to win the state championship. In addition, Mercado expects to continue to instill a culture that makes sure that players represent the program, school and community in a positive way.

In order to continue the success of the NBHS baseball program for years to come, Mercado understands how important the community is in playing a role within the program. That’s why one of their biggest fundraisers of the year is a night that brings the community together. The annual baseball social saw over 325 people attend last year. It has grown bigger every year and Mercado hopes that even more will show up this year.

The event will take place on Friday, Jan. 23 at the VFW, located at 41 Veterans Drive. The social, which is $25 per person, runs from 6 p.m. – midnight and includes a buffet dinner catered by Salute Restaurant, deserts provided by Whitsons, adult beverages provided by Roma Sports Bar and Grill, a huge raffle consisting of sports memorabilia and a silent auction. In addition, all employees of the New Britain School District will receive free raffle tickets!

“Dinner will include caesar salad, antipasto platters, garlic bread with cheese, pasta rose with sausage, pasta pomodoro, sliced roast beef with mushroom gravy, grilled chicken and veggies. I can’t thank Andy Rizzo (Salute), Khalid Tawfik (Romas) and Jeffrey Taddeo (Whitsons) enough for their continued support of New Britain High School Baseball.”

With the funds raised from the event, Mercado plans to purchase new equipment for the team, including the various things that are needed on a yearly basis – hats, baseballs, medical supplies, and so forth. Besides equipment, the money will also be used for players to attend college prospect camps. In the past, several players have attended Boston College camps, Under Armour camps, and other local camps in an effort to gain national exposure from college and pro scouts. In addition to all that, a portion of the money will go towards the New Britain High School Scholarship Fund.

That’s not all though. Mercado will take some of the money and put it towards the program’s yearly trip. This year, the program will be going to Baltimore in April to attend an Orioles game, to get a tour of Camden Yards, to visit the Inner Harbor and to visit Babe Ruth’s home. The trip not only allows the kids to have fun and see a ball game, but it also gives them an opportunity of a lifetime that they may have not been able to have without the support of the community. Mercado understands how important it is to the kids.

“Trips like these give our inner city student athletes an opportunity to travel and experience new things. It also builds team chemistry. Funds will also go towards anything our players need. We expect 100 percent commitment from our players and we make sure we take care of them…our family.”

Mercado knows that the hard work and dedication by the coaches and players will result in successful 2015 spring baseball season. It is truly his hope, along with the rest of the program, to get support from the community in order to help make their goals a reality. Tickets are available in the main office at New Britain High School and will also be sold at the door.