It looks like the Watertown Bucks are back again this season as the city's own professional baseball team. For a few months last year, it looked like the Bucks were gone for good after the North Country Baseball League folded. Now, the Bucks are in a different league and its manager is determined to keep America’s pastime in Watertown for good.
This spring, when word spread that someone new was taking on the task of reviving the Watertown Bucks from the dead, there were a few vocal skeptics. City Councilman Cody Horbacz voted against leasing the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds to the Bucks because he had lost faith that any league could afford to fund the four teams a league needs.
Eddie Gonzalez, the Empire league’s manager insisted he had the money to make it all come together by opening day in June.
“We are not a very expensive league we are not like an Atlantic league or a professional MBL minor league that needs billions of dollars to operate. This is a very low level, low market, low budget league," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez pursued big corporate sponsors, like Kia Motors and Pepsi, to secure the costs of housing and paying the players. The league has even partnered with Fort Drum, cutting a deal on tickets for soldiers to help build support for the team.
Simon Walters, the Bucks new coach, knows Gonzalez from baseball in South Florida. He said Bucks players are from all over the country. A few are from Latin America.
“It’s definitely a different group then they've had in the past. We are trying to look do what we know we need to do and fortunately we have been hitting the ball well in New Hampshire and just looking to continue what we've done before," Walters said.
The Watertown Bucks played their first games on the road against the New Hampshire Wilds. They are currently undefeated. The Bucks play their first home game against the Wilds on June 13.