Somerset Patriots Name Scott Kelly And Nate Roe As Community Ambassadors

NateScott Web1Bridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots, the Double-A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, have announced that beloved former players Scott Kelly and Nate Roe have been named community ambassadors for the organization.

“Through our 20-plus years, we’ve come across some very special people that have worn the Somerset Patriots uniform,” said team President/General Manager Patrick McVerry. “Few, if any, have worked as hard as Scott and Nate to help us serve our community with different education and sportsmanship programs. We are excited to continue to have both remain as part of our family in these roles to help spread important messages and make a difference.”

Kelly played seven seasons with the Somerset Patriots and is arguably one of the most popular players in team history. He made the roster out of an open tryout in 2014 and entered the 2020 season among the franchise leaders in a number of categories.

Kelly appeared once again in a Patriots uniform during the SOMERSET Professional Baseball Series during the summer of 2020 in the team’s efforts to bring baseball to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The West Windsor, New Jersey native enjoyed a standout collegiate career at The College of New Jersey before coming to Somerset.

Kelly became a fan favorite, not just for his gritty play and determination on the field, but his tireless work in the community and at the ballpark to reach fans and brighten their days.

Roe had a seven-year professional baseball career, most recently as a right-handed pitcher out of the bullpen for the Patriots in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He came out of retirement to play in the SOMERSET Professional Baseball Series and was one of the league’s best pitchers.

He will continue to lead the team’s “Hit A Home Run School” school program powered by RWJBarnabas Health. “Hit A Home Run” is now a virtual interactive lesson designed to teach young children how to eat healthier, how to make smarter lifestyle choices, how to be a good teammate and friend, and also to understand the importance of exercise.

The program is available for schools to book by contacting the organization at patriots@somersetpatriots.com.

Roe, a graduate of Rutgers University, grew up in Plainfield and currently resides in Scotch Plains. He recently opened up the Nate Roe Baseball Academy, located in Middlesex, to provide baseball/softball training services to all ages and skill levels.

About The Somerset Patriots

The Somerset Patriots are the new Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Stay up to date on all Somerset Patriots news online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com

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2020: A Year We Will Never Forget

2020 Recap TWBridgewater, NJ- 2020 was to be a special year. The Somerset Patriots were coming off their third-straight season as attendance leaders in the Atlantic League and looking to expand the partnership with Major League Baseball that brought national attention to the club.

From January through early spring, the roster was shaping up to combine fan favorites like Scott Kelly, Justin Pacchioli, Yovan Gonzalez, and David Kubiak with incoming MLB veterans that included Paulo Orlando, Pat Dean, and Vance Worley. The on-field goal was simple: return to the championship form expected of the franchise.

But by early March, the season was postponed. COVID-19 hit the New Jersey area hard and forced the shutdown of all non-essential businesses, gatherings of large numbers, and professional sporting events. It became very unlikely that baseball would be possible in 2020.

Like just about every other business, the Somerset Patriots staff worked remotely for the first few months of the pandemic.

“It was an endless amount of ZOOM meetings, e-mails, and any other way to connect with one another,” said longtime Somerset Patriots President/General Manager Patrick McVerry. “It’s especially tough on a staff that is used to seeing one another for 15 hours straight during the season. It was important to the Kalafer family and myself to keep our entire staff employed throughout the pandemic.”

Team management worked on ways to keep engagement with fans and support the community in need. TD Bank Ballpark became a PPE collection site for doctors and nurses on the frontlines helping coronavirus patients. Fundraisers were also run through merchandise sales, events, and donations to benefit the RWJBarnabas Health Emergency Response Fund. Throughout the year, the Somerset Patriots raised $16,000 to help support the health care professionals serving their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful to the Somerset Patriots for their continued support of our hospital throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, from donations of food for our staff to hosting blood drives and holding events to benefit our Emergency Response Fund,” said Tony Cava, president and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. “Their support helps ensure that our community has access to the comprehensive emergency care services they need.”

The staff put together an “Opening Day At Home” celebration through the team’s social media channels to bring fans together virtually when they could not be at the ballpark. It succeeded at reaching over 125,000 people with an entire day of posts, contests, videos, and activities.

Broadcaster Marc Schwartz hosted weekly “Patriots Check-Ins” on Facebook to allow fans the opportunity to meet and ask questions of players, coaches, and other team representatives.

It was not until June that the front office staff returned to the ballpark once New Jersey health and medical experts allowed small indoor gatherings to resume. Management looked to fill up the summer schedule with ways people could safely get together at the ballpark.

A COVID-19 readiness plan for operating TD Bank Ballpark was created that included everything from social distanced seating, hand sanitizer stations, masks required when moving around the ballpark, and many more protocols to help provide a safe environment for everyone at every event.

On June 19th, the Atlantic League officially announced that it was opening up the 2020 schedule for each member club to fill their schedule as needed to serve their communities.

“The Atlantic League and other leagues are in similar positions,” said Atlantic League President Rick White in a statement at the time. “There are multiple teams in each league at different stages of reopening; therefore, some who are able to begin play and some who are not. This solution would pair those clubs able to play and entertain fans at their ballparks, providing a high level of professional baseball and affordable family entertainment.”

A New Jersey Executive Order made it possible for certain outdoor events to take place with a maximum of 250 people. Not being able to open the ballpark yet, the Somerset Patriots made use of the parking lot to host drive-in movies to entertain families. The team screened the beloved baseball classics The Sandlot and Rookie of the Year to kickoff what would become 76 different events at the ballpark.

In July, TD Bank Ballpark joined several other local minor league and high school fields as a site of the New Jersey Last Dance World Series, a statewide baseball tournament for scholastic-aged players and recently graduated high school seniors. The events were the first that permitted up to 500 people to attend outdoor activities in the state.

Once state guidelines allowed, the movies were moved into the ballpark with the scoreboard serving as the screen and the playing field as seating. The Summer Movie Series played a dozen classics including Field of Dreams, The Sandlot, and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The smell of popcorn wafted through the ballpark as fans relived film favorites or introduced them to their children for the first time.

Two graduation ceremonies were conducted on the field for Bridgewater-Raritan High School to give their seniors a proper send off and allow families to share the joy of commencement together. Far Hills Country Day School also held a graduation at the ballpark for their eighth graders.

“It certainly was not the summer anybody expected, but we were proud to serve our community,” said McVerry. “It’s our continuing commitment to Somerset County and Central New Jersey. We will be here for you through the good times and the tough ones as well.”

The team began to host practices once the state said it was safe to do so. Determined to bring professional baseball in some form to the community, the Somerset Patriots announced the creation of the SOMERSET Professional Baseball Series. In a press conference on July 7th, plans were announced to allow local professional talent to play for two teams run by the organization.

“The most important aspect of our program is the safety, security, and the welfare of not only our fans, but the community, our players, and our staff,” said Somerset Patriots Chairman Emeritus Steve Kalafer at the event. “This is a plan that has been vetted by health care professionals, meets the CDC guidelines, and New Jersey’s executive orders. We are going to have baseball for our community.”

The series began on July 17th and ran through August 22nd. All 13 games of the series were sellouts of the allowed 500 people, played before socially distanced crowds that provided energy and enthusiasm for both teams throughout the series. Any given night, generations of Somerset Patriots fans cheered alongside fans that embraced the fledgling New Jersey Blasters.

The series also allowed fans to see some of their favorite players don the red, white, and blue one more time under the guidance of Brett Jodie and Jon Hunton.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way the series ran and the response from our fans and community,” McVerry said. “Our goal was to provide baseball to our community and bring some joy back to our area. We feel our staff and the players were able to do that in a very safe and enjoyable way. We’ve heard nothing but positive reviews from those that were able to grab the hottest ticket in town or watch from home.”

Events continued even after the baseball season concluded. Young dancers from Gotta Dance, Triangle Dance, and the Dance Factory took the field to perform recitals and enjoy time with friends and family on perfect summer nights.

As the weather turned a little cooler, the team hosted a Labor Day comedy show featuring New York based comedians Sam Morell, Jared Freid, and Joe List, while award-winning performer Jim Barone rocked fans with a two-and-a-half hour live concert tribute to Elvis Presley in mid-September.

With synagogues unable to observe the High Holy Days together in a traditional manner, the Kalafer family donated the use of TD Bank Ballpark for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.

In late October, Somerset Patriots Co-Chairmen Jonathan and Josh Kalafer unveiled a sculpture depicting their father, Steve, and manager emeritus Sparky Lyle in front of TD Bank Ballpark to pay tribute the two mens’ legacy to the team and Somerset County.

A couple of weeks later, news broke that the Somerset Patriots were named the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The announcement came from months of communication between the two teams amid MLB’s restructuring of its minor league system.

“This is a dream come true for everyone in the Somerset Patriots family,” said Kalafer. “I’ve always looked at the Yankees as the gold standard in baseball and sports as a whole. It is how we’ve modeled the way we’ve conducted our business since day one. We are forever grateful to Hal Steinbrenner and the entire Steinbrenner family, as well as the management of the New York Yankees.”

After over two decades as an independent team, the Somerset Patriots were now joining the most recognized and successful sports brand in the world.

“We’ve done this with the wonderful people we work with. We’ve done this with the wonderful people that come out to the ballpark. And we’ve done it in a way with everyone in the community,” said Josh Kalafer. “Never did we imagine that we would have the opportunity to be a part of the New York Yankees organization. It is the beginning of yet another incredible chapter in this long and beautiful journey.”

New York Yankees legends Joe Torre, Sparky Lyle, and Willie Randolph attended the official announcement of the partnership at TD Bank Ballpark on an unseasonably warm and sunny November 10th. They were joined by the Kalafer family and Somerset County elected officials who ushered in a new chapter of Somerset Patriots baseball.

“I feel George Steinbrenner would have been very proud of this marriage between the Somerset Patriots and the New York Yankees based on the fact that he liked winners,” Torre said. “And this ballclub, this organization, and this ballpark has seen its share of winners.”

As the calendar approached Thanksgiving – and knowing that there are many in need and suffering from food insecurity -the Kalafer family, the Somerset Patriots, Flemington Car & Truck Country Family of Brands, Clinton Honda, and Jaguar Land Rover Princeton donated 1,000 individual turkeys and all the trimmings to local area food banks. These donations are expected to feed between 4,000-5,000 people over the holiday season.

2020 will be remembered for many things. Through heartbreak and uncertainty, there were still highlights large and small. Like many, the Somerset Patriots are looking forward to turning the page to the 2021 season and ushering in the next chapter in the franchise’s proud history.

“I can honestly say that I have never looked forward to the baseball season more than I am looking forward to this one,” said Jonathan Kalafer. “I’m looking forward to being excellent partners for the New York Yankees and providing the best possible experience for our fans, their players, and the community.”

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Somerset Patriots Donate Clubhouse Furniture To Habitat for Humanity

Bridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, have donated a number of pieces of furniture to the Raritan Valley chapter of Habitat for Humanity. These donations were in coordination with the ongoing preparations for offseason renovations to TD Bank Ballpark.

Included in the Somerset Patriots’ donations were: one wrap-around sectional, two cloth couches, two leather couches, four glass coffee tables, three large arm chairs and one large ottoman. This donation was valued at $3,000. Habitat-Blogs

These items, as part of the Somerset Patriots’ donation, are ticketed for the Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which “sells building materials, appliances, new and gently-used furniture, and home accessories to the public at a fraction of the retail price.” The store is owned by Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity, while the “proceeds from the store go directly toward our mission of building affordable homes in Somerset and Hunterdon Counties.”

The Somerset Patriots continue to clear space at TD Bank Ballpark in advance of significant renovations and ballpark improvements to take place over the coming months. Many of these upgrades are consistent with the new standards put forward by Major League Baseball for official Double-A licensed affiliates moving forward. This includes an upgraded and expanded home clubhouse, upgraded visitors’ clubhouse and a brand-new umpire locker room.

More information and updates on these renovations will continue to be announced leading into the 2021 season.

About Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity

Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity builds permanent affordable housing for low-income families by mobilizing a cooperative volunteer effort. RVHFH and community volunteers find the site, raise the funds, and select a family for each new home. The selected family works side-by-side with RVHFH and community volunteers on the construction of their new home.

About Somerset Patriots

The Somerset Patriots are the new Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Stay up to date on all Somerset Patriots news online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

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Somerset Patriots, Flemington Car & Truck Country, Clinton Honda, And Jaguar Land Rover Princeton Donate 1,000 Turkeys

Donation SocialBridgewater, NJ – The Somerset Patriots, along with Flemington Car & Truck Country, Clinton Honda, and Jaguar Land Rover Princeton have made a donation of 1,000 individual turkeys with all the trimmings to local families through the Food Bank Network of Somerset County and the Flemington Area Food Pantry. The donation is expected to serve between 4,000 and 5,000 people this holiday season.

“At the dealerships and ballpark, we’ve always had the ethos ‘be kind, be fair, work hard, earn money, do good,’” said Steve Kalafer, Founding Chairman of Flemington Car & Truck Country and Clinton Honda and Chairman Emeritus of the Somerset Patriots. “While we strive to accomplish each of these goals on a daily basis throughout the year, the holiday season allows us to spend even more time being kind and doing good. We are honored and very fortunate to be able to make this donation to help those in need this holiday season.”

The team and dealerships will be making a donation to pay for the meals, consisting of turkeys and all the trimmings, to be served as complete dinners and distributed to families in need this holiday season.

“Thanksgiving is a time of year where we place extra focus on appreciating all the blessings we have in life,” said Jonathan Kalafer, Co-Owner of Flemington Car & Truck Country, Clinton Honda and Jaguar Land Rover Princeton, and Co-Chairman of the Somerset Patriots. “It is also a time to remember others who may not be as fortunate. Many in the community are struggling to put food on the table and provide for their families. We hope this donation of turkey dinners helps make the holiday a little brighter and easier for them.”

The donation was announced on Tuesday afternoon at the Food Bank of Somerset County’s main warehouse in Bound Brook and the Flemington Area Food Pantry.

“We are grateful to our community for all they have given us, and we will always do our part to give back,” added Josh Kalafer, Co-Owner of Flemington Car & Truck Country and Clinton Honda, Chairman of Jaguar Land Rover Princeton, and Co-Chairman of the Somerset Patriots. “Our family, our team, and our dealerships have always operated under the fact that we are part of a much larger, diverse, and special community beyond our doors. It’s crucial for all of us to do what we can, whenever possible, to make a difference.”

At the Food Bank of Somerset County, the Somerset Patriots were represented by Co-Chairmen Jonathan and Josh Kalafer, President/General Manager Patrick McVerry and team mascot Sparkee, and were joined by Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson and Freeholders Brian Levine and Melonie Marano.

“Every year some of our friends and neighbors need a little bit of help to celebrate with their families, but this year with COVID-19 and the economic uncertainty so many of us face, the need is much greater,” said Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson. “The Kalafer family has always been ones to give back to Somerset County with the Somerset Patriots and the Flemington Car and Truck Country, but this incredible gift to the Somerset County Food Bank Network is on a whole new level of generosity.”

The mission of The Food Bank Network is to distribute food and to provide other basic human needs to those less fortunate in the community in a manner which recognizes and advances self-worth and human dignity. The Food Bank Network of Somerset County is incorporated as a charitable, not-for-profit organization. The majority of their food and funding are donations provided by individuals, families, philanthropic organizations, businesses and corporations of all sizes. For more information, or to make a food or monetary donation, please visit somersetfoodbank.org.

“The Somerset County Food Bank family is so thankful for this wonderful donation of holiday meals for families in need this season,” said Food Bank Network of Somerset County. Executive Director Marie Scanell. “This gift will mean local residents in need will have full holiday meals complete with the trimmings this year at a time when so many are at risk for food insecurity.”

Flemington Car & Truck Country, Clinton Honda, and Jaguar Land Rover of Princeton were represented by Jonathan and Josh Kalafer, joined by Somerset Patriots mascot Sparkee, Flemington Area Food Pantry Executive Director Jeannine Gorman, Raritan Township Mayor Jeff Kuhl, and Raritan Township Committeeman Gary Hazard at the Hunterdon County announcement.

“This is absolutely needed, especially this year” said Mayor Kuhl. “Everybody is grateful to the Kalafer family for all they have done for the community over the years. It’s great to see a family business that thrives for generations that focuses on giving back to their community.”

Committeeman Hazard added, “I want to thank everyone involved at the dealerships and the Somerset Patriots. It’s a critical time to support our community during the pandemic, and this is a coming together of businesses out there helping as many people as they can.”

The Flemington Area Food Pantry provides food and personal care items to needy Hunterdon County families regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background. The Flemington Area Food Pantry depends on the generosity of the Hunterdon County community for its very existence. Without donations of food and funds, the Pantry would not exist. More than 80% of Pantry income is derived from contributions of cash and groceries. For more information, or to make a donation, please visit flemingtonfoodpantry.org.

“We are very thankful to the Kalafer family for this generous donation,” added Gorman. “This time of year is always tough for those in need. I am sure these meals will put a very big smile on all their faces.”

About The Somerset Patriots

The Somerset Patriots are the new Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Stay up to date on all Somerset Patriots news online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About Flemington Car& Truck Country, Clinton Honda, and Jaguar Land Rover Princeton

Flemington Car & Truck Country, Clinton Honda and Jaguar Land Rover Princeton are authorized Automotive Sales, Service and Parts Dealerships serving Hunterdon and other surrounding New Jersey and Pennsylvania counties since 1976. They have locations on Routes 202, 31, 22 and 206. For more information please visit Flemington.com, ClintonHonda.com, or JLRPrinceton.com.

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Holiday Toy Drive At TD Bank Ballpark December 1st – 12th

ToyDriveSocialBridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots, the Double-A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, have announced that the team will collect toys at TD Bank Ballpark for Central Jersey Toys For Tots.

From Tuesday, December 1st through Saturday, December 12th, TD Bank Ballpark will be a drop-off site for new, unwrapped toys that will be donated to those in need this holiday season.

“We usually would host an event for the holidays in the Team Store, but we felt for the safety of our fans and staff, that we would transition to more of an ongoing collection this year,” said Somerset Patriots President/General Manager Patrick McVerry. “In following all New Jersey’s COVID-19 guidelines, this is the best way for us to keep everyone safe and continue our tradition of helping those in need around the holidays.”

Toys can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Anyone participating in the toy collection must abide by social distancing protocols in place at TD Bank Ballpark and wear a mask at all times on site.

The Somerset Patriots Team Store will be open for holiday shopping with a 50% off special to anyone that donates toys during the collection.

The Somerset Patriots have collected thousands of toys around the holidays each year through the generosity of fans and the community.

“While this will be a different way to do the event in 2020, it is the right way,” said Somerset Patriots Manager Emeritus Sparky Lyle, who usually attends the annual event to meet fans and sign autographs. “We need to follow the state guidelines and do our part to keep people safe. I look forward to seeing everyone again soon at the ballpark in what is already shaping up to be an incredible year.”

The Somerset Patriots are the new Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Stay up to date on all Somerset Patriots news online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

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