By Ray Hamill — The message from Humboldt B52s co-owner Spencer Duggan is loud and clear. They want to see the team back on the field in the future.
The local summer collegiate baseball program officially canceled the 2022 season just recently, although the writing has been on the wall for a few months, with last-gasp efforts to save the season coming up short.
Make no mistake about it, the B52s are an important part of the local baseball community, and not just because the team gives fans an added option to take in America’s Pastime for two months every summer, but equally so for the opportunity it affords young local players to gain some valuable experience to help them develop as collegiate players.
“It’s so nice for young players who are out of the area playing in college to come back for the summer and have a team to play 20 or 30 games with and go back to college in baseball shape,” Duggan said. “It’s like what (legendary local coach) Greg Shanahan used to say, you’ve got guys who are 18 or 19 and just figuring it out, and if you take the summer off, when you go back your coach will notice and your buddies will notice. You’ve got to stay in baseball shape.”
The B52s, much like the Steelheads before them, played that pivotal role for several local players from 2014 to 2019 in what Duggan describes as “six great summers.”
That run ended with COVID, which forced the team to cancel both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
They were, however, hoping to return to the field this summer, but unfortunately that won’t be the case.
Providing housing for the out-of-area players was one issue, but it wasn’t the only concern.
Earlier this spring, co-owner Jeff Giacomini announced that he was stepping down from the board after taking up a coaching role with the Humboldt Crabs, while Duggan is expecting his first child in June, which obviously limited his commitment to the team for the summer.
But Duggan is hopeful the team will return.
The B52s have had discussions with the Humboldt Eagles American Legion program, which has expressed interest in helping to keep the club going, and Duggan says they will revisit that option later in the summer.
Duggan also believes that the recent success of the Eagles and the other local American Legion programs, along with that of the Northern Humboldt Steelheads travel teams and the local Little League All-Stars, suggests there is a large enough pool of local talent to field an all-local B52s team in the future, or close to it.
“The goal is to keep the team alive,” he said. “To keep baseball alive in Humboldt County.”
The team owner also paid tribute to everybody who has helped out over the years, including coaches Scott St. John, Brad Johnson and Brian Barreto, who poured “their hearts and souls” into the club.
“I want to give a thank you to anybody who put in even an hour helping out at Bomber Field,” he said. “I truly get that statement now, that you can’t do it without the help of the community, so a big thank you to anybody that helped out.”
Hopefully, the B52s can find a way to return to the field in 2023.
North Coast baseball needs them.