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Vermont Lake Monsters, under new owners, will play in summer college baseball league

  • The Vermont Lake Monsters are shown in action at UVM’s Centennial Field in August 2018. Photo by Jim Welch/VTDigger

Published: 2/27/2021 10:00:43 PM
Modified: 2/27/2021 10:00:42 PM

BURLINGTON — The Vermont Lake Monsters, dropped as a Major League Baseball affiliate earlier this month, have been sold.

The Vermont Expos Inc. announced Thursday it had agreed to sell the Lake Monsters to the investment group Nos Amours Baseball Club. Nos Amours is led by Chris English, a former hedge fund manager and a longtime owner and operator of teams in independent and summer college leagues.

Under the deal, the team would play in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, a seven-team summer baseball league based in New England. It has five franchises in Massachusetts, one in Connecticut and one in New Hampshire. The Lake Monsters would be the eighth team.

It’s the first change in ownership since the team came to Vermont as the Jamestown Expos in 1994.

Kyle Bostwick, vice president of the Lake Monsters, said he doesn’t expect the fan experience of going to a Lake Monsters game will be any different than it was when the team was MLB-affiliated.

“When you go to a Lake Monsters game, that experience is about spending quality time with the people you care about and having a great summer night,” he said. “None of that is going to change.”

Bostwick himself will be leaving the team as part of the sale, but he said he’s not sure about any other personnel changes. He said Chris English has relocated to Vermont, though he will still own the Massachusetts-based Brockton Rox, another FCBL franchise.

It’s certainly the end of an era, as Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger pointed out.

“Thank you to Ray Pecor and Kyle Bostwick, the hundreds of players who wore the uniform and the enthusiastic Lake Monster employees who have made a night at Centennial Field a unique and joyous experience for the last quarter-century,” Weinberger said. “We welcome the new ownership group and league to Burlington with the hope that this is the beginning of yet another great chapter of baseball in the Queen City.”

‘Big boots to fill’

English said he grew up in Montreal and used to watch Vermont baseball games as a kid. He has family in Shelburne, Vt., so when the opportunity to buy the Lake Monsters arose, he jumped on it.

“We feel like there’s some big boots to fill, but we’re ready to continue the tradition of working with UVM and our other partners,” English said. “This summer is hopefully going to be the same experience of the Lake Monsters as it’s been for the last 30 years.”

He said he hopes that, by June, the pandemic will allow the Lake Monsters to play a regular season. He said his other team, Brockton, was one of the few independent teams that was able to play last season. He said the Rox had a “very successful season with no COVID cases,” and he’s confident the Lake Monsters can do the same.

He said the level of play of the Futures League is “extremely high,” even though it’s not MLB-affiliated.

“These are top players from the University of Virginia, Dartmouth, Vanderbilt,” he said. “It’s a group of 19- to 22-year-old players, and the quality of play is largely similar to the naked or professional eye.”

Dartmouth College catcher Ben Rice, playing for the Worcester (Mass.) Bravehearts, won the FCBL’s Most Valuable Player award last summer.

Bostwick said the Vermont Expos weren’t interested in selling the team to “just anybody” — the owners wanted to find a group that shared their values.

“When we started on this process, we knew that it was really important for us to find a partner group that was going to understand just how important this community is to the baseball team and how important the baseball team is to the community,” Bostwick said.

He said English’s group was just what they were looking for.

“They love this market and they understand the fact that they have great fans and great support,” he said. “They want to make this as seamless of a transition as possible, building on some things we’ve done in the past and build on that for the future.”

The deal is contingent on several agreements, including a new lease from the University of Vermont, which owns Centennial Field, where the team plays.

A formal announcement of the deal is expected once the sale is completed, which Bostwick said will likely happen in the next week. The FCBL confirmed the Lake Monsters’ arrival in the league on Thursday in a news release.

The Valley News contributed to this report.

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