Aidan Stevens remembers family vacations in the Glens Falls area when he was a kid. This one promises to be extra special.
Stevens, an outfielder from Manchester University in Indiana, will suit up for the Glens Falls Dragons this summer. The Dragons open their Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season on June 3 at East Field.
Stevens may have grown up in Indiana, but both of his parents are from Glens Falls. His dad, Matt, is a former Glens Falls High School standout who went on to play minor-league baseball.
“My nana and my mom always talked about me playing for the Dragons as a joke, but I thought it would be cool if I could play for them,” Aiden Stevens said. “I’m pretty excited about it, coming back to play on the same field my dad played on.”
Stevens recently completed his junior season at Manchester, an NCAA Division III school located in northern Indiana, about 40 miles west of Fort Wayne. The college is also about 80 miles east of where he grew up in Rensselaer, Indiana, where his dad is the longtime high school baseball coach.
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“I always enjoyed upstate New York and the Lake George area,” said Aidan Stevens, who turns 21 at the end of May. “A lot of my family hasn’t been able to see me play baseball, so I’m hoping they’ll be able to this summer.”
To get Aidan to the Dragons, Matt Stevens got in touch with his high school baseball coach, Tim Harrington, who spoke with Dragons owner Ben Bernard.
“Tim gave me a call and asked if I would be interested in Aidan, and we coordinated things and brought him aboard,” Bernard said. “It’s great to bring in players with local ties, and you hope for the best when something like that happens.”
Stevens — who played at Manchester with his older brother, Keegan, a pitcher who graduated in 2021 — started all 28 games he played in for the Spartans this spring.
A powerfully built 6-foot, 210-pounder, Aidan Stevens batted .287 with 29 hits, five home runs, five doubles and a triple, 21 RBIs and 25 runs scored. He has mostly played right field in college.
“He was a running back in high school, he’s a weightlifter, he looks like a middle linebacker, but he’s fast,” Matt Stevens said of his younger son. “He used to pitch — he was as good as or better than me in high school.”
Aidan Stevens missed several games this season with a concussion after he was struck in the face by a pitch.
“I came up to hit and I took a fastball off my jaw,” he recalled. “I took my base and the next batter hit a grand slam. I actually finished the first game of the doubleheader, but after that I was starting to get dizzy, my head was hurting, so I sat out the second game. I ended up missing the next week and a half.”
He returned in time to start the final five games of a season that Manchester finished at 10-27 overall.
Stevens plans to stay with his maternal grandmother, Barbara Salem, in Hudson Falls during the Dragons’ two-month season.
Last summer, he visited Glens Falls and posed for a picture next to his father’s photo on the Glens Falls Baseball Hall of Fame banner at East Field.
Matt Stevens wrapped up his minor-league career playing for the Adirondack Lumberjacks of the independent Northeast League. He got the final three outs of the inaugural league championship in 1995.
Aidan Stevens said his uncles, Tom Ryan Jr. and Matt Salem, both played at East Field when they were at Glens Falls High School.
Originally, Stevens had planned to stay with his Uncle Matt this summer. However, Matt Salem died in January at age 34.
“Now I want to play for him, for his memory,” Aidan Stevens said. “It’s even more special to come and play on the field he used to play on.”
Stevens said he’s also looking forward to playing with, and against, a whole new group of players.
“I’m going in blind a bit with teammates,” he said. “Most of the time I played in summer leagues with guys I grew up with. I’m definitely excited to play against guys in D-I and D-II programs.
“Going from small-town Indiana to play across New York state for the summer will be something to remember for sure,” he added.
Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity