Americans: American History

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"Proud To Be An American" 

 

Eddie DiGiacomo, a charter member of the Intercity League Hall of Fame, started the Medford Mustang Intercity League franchise in 1968. Raising money to support an amateur baseball team is a difficult and time-consuming undertaking today, and so it was in the 1960's. Eddie hustled to raise money to support the fledgling franchise, soliciting donations wherever he went, but it wasn't enough. When it seemed that the Mustangs' opening season would be over before it started, Eddie walked into North Ford sales in Medford, MA, Joseph D. Cullinan's auto dealership. After listening to Eddie extoll the reasons he should support the Mustangs, Mr. Cullinan offered to foot the bill as full sponsor of the team, which was then renamed North Ford Mustangs. Eddie often says that without the generosity of Joe Cullinan, the Mustangs would not have survived financially during the franchises early years. 

From all Mustangs and Americans past and present, the 2017 edition of which will continue the franchise's uninterrupted string of 50 years in the Intercity League: Thank you Joe for your generosity and for believing in Eddie, making it possible for the Mustangs/Americans to survive the early years. Fifty years later, only the Wakefield Merchants have been around longer.

Eddie would go on to manage the Mustangs for the next 32 years. He skippered the Mustangs to the 1985 Intercity League championship over the Melrose Rams, arguably the greatest final series ever played in the Intercity League. Down 3-0 in the best of 7 format, the Mustangs shocked amateur baseball and the thousands of fans who filled every corner of Playstead Park and Morelli Field each night by taking the Rams to 5 more games, tying one of them and winning the other four to capture the series and championship in eight games.

Eddie handed the managerial duties over to Kevin Burgoyne following the 1993 season and Burgoyne, who played in the Intercity League for 24 years, 7 as player manager, continues in that post today. Although DiGiacomo no longer managed the team, he still hustled tirelessly to solicit funds to help keep the Americans afloat. At present, he remains a generous club benefactor. 

Prior to the 2005 season the Intercity League franchise changed hands when Digiacomo stepped down from the team presidency and ownership, turning the reins over to Burgoyne, who soon after changed the team's name to Americans. 

Fielding the youngest team in league history with high school juniors starting every night in centerfield, at shortstop and at third base, a high school senior starting behind the plate and 18 year-old college freshmen and Intercity League rookies starting at second base and in right field, the first year Americans took their inevitable lumps that season, finishing in the cellar.

What the inaugural season's record failed to show was that the Americans to a man stuck together through those throw them to the wolves days; that, with the exception of two or three, they were in every game; that they always played hard and never quit; that in addition to winning or tying slightly less than one third of their games they lost seven games by just one run and that they had improved and grown hungry by season's end.

 

The Americans returned in 2006 still very young but with valuable league experience and lofty expectations. The 2006 campaign saw the Americans play inspired, resilient, confident and entertaining baseball. 

During one nine game stretch in late June and early July the team lost seven games while tying one and winning one. Many teams would have packed it in for the summer following such a miserable and demoralizing two and a half weeks. The Americans won five of their next six games to get back in the hunt. They occupied the fourth and final playoff spot for much of the summer before being overtaken in the final week, ending the regular season three points shy of a playoff berth.

 

The 2007 season was much like the 2006 season. The Americans were in the thick of the playoff hunt throughout the summer but again came up short, finishing in sixth place, six points behind the fourth place Watertown Reds. The prolific American offense scored more runs than any other ICL team except the playoff champion Lexington Blue Sox (175-170), but defensively they allowed the second most runs scored. Many of those runs were unearned as the infield defense most nights was, at best, an adventure, at worst, a disaster. All the same, the Americans of 2007 again battled hard throughout the season and gave themselves a chance down the stretch. They produced a consistent, hard-nosed effort every game and continued to provide a night of baseball enjoyment to their many fans.

 

In 2008 the Americans took a big step back. Decimated early in the season by injuries to key players, the team never recovered and struggled to a last place finish. Most nights the team was overmatched, but like all American teams they fought hard throughout the season and refused to quit. 

Entering the 2009 season the Americans expected to be much improved. The roster had been revamped with many key additions joining the squad from the former Watertown Reds franchise which had ceased operations following the 2008 season. A number of talented rookies were also added to the mix, giving the team the kind of depth needed to compete successfully in the Intercity League. And compete they did, making the playoffs and defeating the Wakefield Merchants in a thrilling first round series before falling to the eventual champion Lexington Blue Sox in the semifinal round.

 

The Americans faced a rebuilding year when the Watertown Reds franchise was resurrected in 2010. Returning to that franchise were three fourths of the 2009 Americans' starting rotation, along with the 2009 starting shortstop and third baseman. All the same, with many new, young faces on the roster, the Americans held their own most nights finishing in 7th place with a record of 12-18, one slot out of the playoffs which had been expanded to the top six teams.

 

In 2011 the Americans were bitten by the injury bug and it showed on the field and in the standings. They finished in 8th place with a record of 10-21-1. Despite the final record, the players on the 2011 roster who remained healthy throughout the season were grinders and battlers, traits that allowed them to keep most games close. Finding themselves out of the playoffs with a record of 5-20-0 with two weeks remaining in the season, the 2011 Americans refused to quit and finished the season on a high note, going 5-1-1 over their final 7 games, with 4 of those wins over eventual playoff teams. 

 

The Americans returned to the playoffs in 2012, earning the sixth and final spot. A number of new young faces were added to a young veteran core and the team immediately showed it could compete, going 4-2-1 in their first 7 games. The Americans lost their number 2 pitcher and number 3 hitter to a broken wrist one game into the season. They were huge losses, but a number of rookies stepped up to help lessen the sting, both on the mound and at the plate. There were ups and downs during the season but the Americans were a resourceful team that showed a knack for winning games they had to win. 

 

They faced the Watertown Reds in the first round of the best of 3 games playoff series, with all 3 games played at Watertown's Victory Field. They won the first game 5-2 to take a 1-0 lead over the Reds, but Watertown bounced back to win the next 2 games by scores of 6-1 and 7-5, ending the Americans' playoff hopes two games to one.

 

Having called Playstead Park in Medford home for 45 years, the Americans, known as the Mustangs from 1968 until 2005, moved to brand new Morelli Field in Melrose in 2013. Melrose residents and long time Intercity League watchers were treated to many years of amateur baseball excellence at the old Morelli Field during the 1980's and early 1990's when Dr. Richard Morelli's Rams enjoyed a dynasty, winning playoff championships in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993. The Rams also reached the playoff finals in 1985, building a 3-0 lead in the best of 7 series before losing to the Mustangs in 8 epic games, 4-3-1.

 

The Rams filled the stands at Morelli Field during those glory years when many of the league's better players could be found in the Melrose dugout. They brought a brand of baseball to the city of Melrose that, on summer nights for many families and fans, made Morelli Field the place to be.

The Melrose Americans return to the city another top-notch, winning Intercity League baseball team, comprised of players and coaches eager to represent the city positively and to return the generosity of their Melrose hosts, not only with entertaining baseball on game night, but at various other times, as well. Beginning in 2013, the Americans will strive to again make Morelli Field in Melrose the family go-to destination on summer nights.