NEWARK, NJ - Former University of Massachusetts Boston baseball player Ryan Walsh (Newton, MA) has signed a professional baseball contract with the historic Newark Bears franchise of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball League. The two-time NCAA Division III ABCA/Rawlings All-American is the second UMass Boston player to sign a professional contract within the last three years as former Beacons pitcher Nick Conway (Methuen, MA) signed with the Worcester Tornados in 2009.
Walsh in coming off one of the greatest seasons in UMass Boston annals in which he was not only named a first-team NCAA Division III ABCA/Rawlings All-American but also a D3Baseball.com's All-American First Team, with an appointment to the First Team All-Region squad by the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association as well as the Player of the Year and a First Team All-Star by the Little East Conference. He finished his senior campaign setting a new single-season mark batting .455 (69-155) while belting a conference best 12 homers to go along with 51 RBI.
The Newark Bears were introduced in the International League in 1917 and underwent many changes over the years as they made their mark in sports history and developed star talent who were promoted to the parent organization, the New York Yankees. Readers of Baseball America named the 1937 Newark Bears the minor-league team of the century. In 1950, the franchise was sold to the Chicago Cubs and was moved to Springfield, Massachusetts.
It took nearly 50 years, but the city's resilience, as manifest through baseball, led to the 1998 reformation of the Bears by former Yankee catcher, Rick Cerone. On July 16, 1999, the County of Essex opened the Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium as the new home of the Bears.
The Bears are currently coached by two former MLB standouts as Tim Raines is the acting manger while Jim Leyritz serves as the team's pitching coach. Several former major leaguers have played for the Bears imcluding players such as Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Jose Lima, Scott Spiezio, Armando Benitez, Carl Everett, Ramiro Mendoza, Scott Williamson, Keith Foulke, Jay Gibbons and Lance Johnson. Two former major leaguers are currently on the roster in Tim Raines Jr. and Daryle Ward. Walsh has appeared in eight games as the Bears currently boast a 19-20 overall mark. The Newton, MA native has collected five this, scored five runs, drove in four RBI while also drawing two walks and stealing one base in his only attempt.
Walsh will return to Massachusetts later this month with the Bears when they take on the Brockton Rox at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, MA for a three game series from July 22-24.
Over his four-year career at UMass Boston, Walsh posted a .396 batting average to top the UMB record books. He'll graduate as the all-time career leader in almost every offensive category including hits (266), runs (187), RBI (166), doubles (64), homeruns (25), total bases (419), slugging percentage (.624), walks (77) and stolen bases (79). Defensive he also made his mark in UMass Boston history recording 449 fielding assists which ranks first all-time while posting a .953 career fielding percentage over 169 career games, the most played by any player to don a Beacons uniform. After being selected to participate in the NEIBA Senior All-Star game on June 2, 2011 at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, MA, Walsh represented the Beacons well belting a two-run homer while also drawing a walk en route to being named the game's MVP. Walsh is the second UMass Boston player to go deep in the NEIBA Senior All-Star game as his former teammate, Drew Tambling (Littleton, MA), went deep in the 2010 game at Fenway Park.
UMass Boston wrapped up the 2011 season with an 18-22 overall record, ending their reign as the 2010 New England Regional Champions. The Beacons matched their highest in-conference win total, posting an 8-6 mark in the LEC to earn a #2 seed in the Little East Conference Tournament, their highest seed ever.