Can-Am League (2009)
First Game: May 28, 2009 (L 10-0 vs. New Jersey Jackals)
Last Game: September 5, 2009 (W 5-4, L 6-2 @ Sussex Skyhawks)
Can-Am League Championships: None
Mascot: Ground Zero (the Soldier)
Ownership & Affiliation
Major League Affiliation: Independent
The Nashua Pride was an independent pro baseball team that played in this former mill city on the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts from 1998 until 2008. It’s glory years came in the Atlantic League from 1998 to 2005, whene the team’s small but devoted fan base enjoyed watching former Major League stars like Dante Bichette, Sam Horn, Pete Incaviglia and Lance Johnson in the city’s scenic Depression-era ballpark, Historic Holman Stadium. Boston Red Sox cult hero Butch Hobson managed the Pride from 2000 to 2007, winning to indy league championships along the way.
But the Pride lost money every year. In early 2009 John Stabile, the last in a sequence of Pride owners, threw in the towel and sold out to Boston Baseball All-Stars, LLC. The outfit’s self-styled CEO Lt. Commander (ret.) Terry Allvord had toured the country for years staging low-level exhibitions with his U.S. Military All-Stars teams. His new vision for the Pride was … well, it was something else.
Allvord and his partners re-branded the Pride as a militaristic squad called the American Defenders of New Hampshire. The team wore uniforms modeled after desert camouflage fatigues.
A Mascot Named Ground Zero
Allvord’s military-themed promotions quickly crossed the line past conventional patriotic flourishes. The team named its mascot “Ground Zero”. A plush soldier doll in fatigues and war paint, Allvord’s not-so-cuddly mascot sported the uniform number 9-11. Management initially sought to stop play each night at 9:11 PM to play Lee Greenwood’s three-minute long God Bless the USA, even if the game was between pitches of an at bat. Can-Am League officials wisely put that kibosh on that particular nugget of flag-humping nonsense.
The gimmick didn’t play in Nashua. American Defenders crowds often numbered fewer than 100 fans. The team traded or released its best players in midseason to dump payroll. General Manager Chris Hall, the final holdover from the Stabile regime, was let go in favor of Boston Baseball All-Stars investor Dan Duquette, the former Boston Red Sox GM who fired Butch Hobson in 1994.
Stiffing the First Responders
In August 2009, the City of Nashua evicted the American Defenders from Holman Stadium by parking a tractor on home plate to prevent the team from finishing its home schedule. Ironically for an organization that wrapped itself in the flag, the team’s list of unpaid creditors included the Nashua police and fire departments that assigned first responder details for the games.
American Defenders of New Hampshire Shop
“Dan Duquette’s Minor League Team Evicted From Stadium“, Dashiell Bennett, Deadspin, August 26, 2009