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Watertown bids farewell to first pro baseball team in 20 years

North Country Baseball League
Despite local support, the Watertown Bucks won't return to the mound next season.

The North Country Baseball League has folded.  The owner of The Watertown Bucks, the city’s first pro-baseball team in twenty years, has announced the team won’t be returning.

Back in January, news spread that pro baseball was on its way back to Watertown. The plan was The East Coast Baseball League would have 16 teams including the newly minted Watertown Bucks. But by the spring, the owner of the league pulled out. Bucks owner Bruce Zicari and team manager Matt McClusky acted fast with a plan to save baseball.

“We were meeting at Crystal’s Diner and we were writing down notes and even though we went through hell, on opening day people were coming in and buying Bucks gear and cheering for the Bucks players,” McClusky said.

Credit North Country Baseball League
The Watertown Bucks were part of the North Country Baseball League which folded because of its lack of support of its traveling teams.

The North Country Baseball League was pared down to four teams. Only two of them had a home field- the Bucks and the Old Orchard Beach Surge in Maine. Zicari and McClusky were running the whole show. But McClusky says all that effort was impossible to replicate.

“We tried to bring it back, we tried everything we could but it simply wasn’t there."

McClusky and Zicari struggled to find a home base for two of their traveling teams.  McClusky says the league couldn’t support them financially.

“Those two teams didn’t have homes so they didn’t draw any money. So we were trying to do this with no stability there for the two travel teams and that is basically what did us in,” he said.

McClusky says that means the Watertown Bucks are no more, but not because the fans or the city didn’t show support. Instead it was the weight of the league that brought pro-baseball in Watertown down.

“And to lose that is so painful. It hurts me to the core that we weren’t able to bring them back," he said.

Last week, McClusky wrote a eulogy to the Watertown Bucks on the League’s website. He wrote: "The team that was never supposed to live, in the end left a hell of a legacy. All in one short, but awesome, year."