North Atlantic League (1996)
Northeast League (1997-1998)
Northern League (1999)
Died: October 1999 – The Mad Dogs leave Lynn and go on a two-year hiatus.
Stadium: Fraser Field
Owner: Jonathan Fleisig
The Massachusetts Mad Dogs were a low-level independent baseball club based out of Fraser Field in Lynn, Massachusetts from 1996 to 1999. Popular former Boston Red Sox star George “Boomer” Scott was the team’s field manager and the team attracted further attention from Red Sox Nation in 1997 by signing the 37-year old former Red Sox pitcher and noted eccentric Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd.
The Mad Dogs were the first pro sports investment for Jonathan Fleisig, a Wall Street commodities trader and long-time minor league baseball and hockey investor. He bought the franchise for a reported $150,000 in 1995
The Mad Dogs played their first season in the North Atlantic League (1995-1996), a wobbly independent circuit with teams in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The Mad Dogs’ posted a 56-21 record – far and away the best in the league – but were upset in the championship series by the Catskill (NY) Cougars. Reported attendance was 52,384, or slightly over 1,000 fans per game. Following the 1996 season, the North Atlantic League disbanded and the Mad Dogs jumped to the more stable Northeast League.
Attendance plummeted in 1998 as the perilous condition of Fraser Field continued to deteriorate. The clam shell roof of the park was condemned prior to the Mad Dogs third season and propped up by makeshift beams and there were no permanent concessions facilities. In late 1998, Jonathan Fleisig hinted at leaving Lynn due to low season ticket sales and the decrepit state of the ballpark, but elected to return for a fourth and final season in the summer of 1999.
The Mad Dogs attracted some publicity during their finals season by signing 25-year old Tammy Holmes, thought to be the first female position player to play professional baseball for a men’s team. Holmes was a former member of the barnstorming female team the Silver Bullets, which attracted considerable national attention before folding in 1997. Holmes appeared in two games, going hitless in nine at-bats with five strikeouts.
In October 1999, league official approved a move of the Mad Dogs to Hartford, Connecticut where a planned $10 – $15 million renovation of Dillon Stadium would create a new home for the team. The Hartford deal later fell apart and the ball club was mothballed for two full seasons.
In 2002, Fleisig reactivated the franchise at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Boomer Scott returned as manager of the renamed Berkshire Black Bears. The story – well, one side of the story – of Fleisig’s rivalry with former New York Yankee and Ball Four author Jim Bouton to get the lease at Wahconah Park is captured in Bouton’s 2003 book Foul Ball. The Black Bears lasted only two seasons in Pittsfield, then moved again the New Haven’s Yale Field and became the New Haven County Cutters, still under Fleisig’s ownership.
The Cutters folded after the 2007 season, finally closing the book on the original franchise started three cities and three leagues earlier in 1996.
Following the demise of the Mad Dogs, a former fan purchased the team’s Spike The Bulldog mascot costume at a storage unit sale. He periodically dressed up in the costume to attend minor league games around New England. For several years in the early 2000′s, it was not unusual to see Spike quietly sitting alongside human fans in various ballpark grandstands around the region quietly keeping score in his game program.
1999 Massachusetts Mad Dogs Scorecard