Entering its 19th year of existence, the New England Ruffnecks baseball development program is one of the longest-standing clubs in the region.
Started by former Boston Red Sox assistant general manager Steve August in 2003, the Ruffnecks spent almost a decade as one of the premier -- if not THE premier -- travel programs in New England. Over time, many New England club teams have gotten larger and more competitive on a national level, while the Ruffnecks have stuck to their roots -- with one team at each age level from 13U to 17U. With a total of only 90 players in the program per year, the Ruffnecks do things differently.
"We play team-oriented baseball," August said. "We try to eschew a couple of trends in travel ball, like showcasing players. We go play baseball as a team. If we think bringing our kids to a (Prep Baseball Report) event is the right thing, we'll go. We obviously do a lot of Perfect Game events. We're strong and we're solid, but we don't fly in two pitchers to go to a tournament in Georgia. We take our team."
August's impact on the sport of baseball in New England transcends his work with the Red Sox and Ruffnecks. In 2007, he and business partner Stu Porter founded New England Baseball Enterprises with a goal of opening a premier ballpark as a home for the Ruffnecks and host side for youth tournaments. That plan came to fruition in 2014 with the opening of New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Mass. That facility has served as the home of the Ruffnecks ever since, although 3STEP Sports took over operations of the complex earlier this fall.