Noah Crane and his family created and launched the Upper Valley Nighthawks in 2016, and Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital was a sponsor from day one of the first season. Today, the Nighthawks are still going strong thanks to local sponsorship. We asked Crane, founder and president, about the Nighthawks and the benefits of a baseball game.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the home games for the 2023 season.
Q. What is the Upper Valley Nighthawks?
A. The Upper Valley Nighthawks are a summer collegiate baseball team that competes in the 13-member New England Collegiate Baseball League. Elite college baseball players come to the Upper Valley each summer to improve their baseball skills and get seen by professional scouts. From a fan perspective, a Nighthawks game is one part baseball, one part carnival, and one part farmers’ market.
Q. How did the Nighthawks start?
A. I was born in Hanover, graduated from Woodstock High School, and live in Lebanon. I played baseball at University of Massachusetts Amherst. I also coached at Dartmouth and Spartanburg Methodist Colleges as well as Mascoma High School and the Hartford (Vermont) American Legion team.
The Nighthawks were founded by me and my family in 2016. We love baseball and this community so this was a small way we could give back to an area that has given much to us. When you come to a game you will see me ripping tickets, working the microphone, and everything in between. My wife and kids help in the concession stand and my parents help on game days, too. It's very much a family affair.
Q. Do the baseball games benefit the community?
A. Yes, Upper Valley residents are able to see professional quality baseball in a local setting and with affordable prices. Several of our alumni are currently playing or played professional baseball and coming to a Nighthawks game is a chance to see the pros of tomorrow before they get famous. As good as the quality of baseball is, it's just the vehicle to provide entertainment and to bring people together. We want to create a community hub and strengthen a sense of unity within the Upper Valley.
Q. How were you able to make tickets free to the community?
A. Our free ticket initiative was a product of the pandemic. We wanted to provide some joy and excitement for the community after everything we had gone through in 2020 and 2021. The free tickets were our gift, a reward for enduring a bizarre and challenging year and a half.
Q. Did sponsors, like APD, help?
A. Sponsorship allows us to do what we do. We were incredibly fortunate Mascoma Bank and The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation provided funding for us. We are now on our third year of free admission and are delighted to continue to provide high-level entertainment at no cost to our fans.
APD has been a sponsor since our first season back in 2016. It's incredibly rewarding that so many of our sponsors have been with us for all seven years. It tells me they value what we are doing for the Upper Valley.