BPM would like to congratulate MCLL on their 2009 District Championships and Long Island Championship.
“Little League” is an everyday part of not only our local communities, but all communities across the United States and around the world.
When driving from the western tip to the east end, along Sunrise Highway, you’ll see signs welcoming you from town to town. Next to those signs very often you see, “Proud home of the local little league” with different accomplishments written below.
Many of us don’t realize how little league began, but we do know this-the most prestigious trip any little leaguer can take, is the trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. When you turn on ESPN at the end of July you’ll see famous baseball broadcasters talking about the “Road to Williamsport.” “Why Williamsport”, you ask? It’s a small town in Pennsylvania with a population of 30,000 people. Why travel to this small town at the end of August for this championship series? This small town houses Lamade Stadium and Volunteer Stadium. To play in this complex is every little leaguers dream. To get here though, you have to be one of the best eight teams in the country, a challenge every team takes on. Along the way to Williamsport, communities come together to teach these young boys the real meaning of being a team player, sportsmanship and fair play. These qualities are the characteristics Carl Stotz wanted his organization
to play by.
Carl Stotz realized back in 1938 that our country was in love with “America’s Pastime,” but most games being played were pick-up games in the park. The games were played with taped bats, equipment that was too big and no coaching. Carl had an idea, and with the help of his family and community, Little League teams were organized. The Lycoming Dairy, Lundy Lumber and Jumbo Pretzel were the first three Little League teams ever in existence. Carl needed support in his venture as the boys needed to learn to play baseball with proper equipment and uniforms. He went to his local community and asked for sponsors. A $30.00 sponsorship fee would put uniforms on the players and put a new bat in their hands. Carl’s goal did not include making money, but teaching young boys the characteristics of teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play. The community supported Carl’s idea and seventy years later, so do over 80 countries in the world.
The first little league game was played on June 6, 1939 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania between the Lundy Lumber and the Lycoming Dairy. The Lycoming Dairy went on to win the first ever Little League Championship in game 5 of a 5 games series.
Seventy years later, Little League is the largest youth organization globally. What started out as three teams in 1939 has grown to over 200,000 teams in 2010. One thing has never changed throughout this time. The culmination of the Little League season always ends in Williamsport, Pennsylvania where the championship game can have 30,000 fans in the stands and spread out across the berm with blankets and their families. Each issue of BPM will highlight a little league organization.
Our first issue highlights one of the past decades most accomplished programs, Massapequa Coast Little League.
Over the past thirteen years there have been twenty-one District Championships, ten Long Island Championships, three New York State Championships, one Eastern Regional Championship and one World Series berth. These are some of the accomplishments of the Massapequa Coast Little League. For those of you that don’t know Massapequa, it is located in Nassau County, New York in the Town of Oyster Bay. With a population of over twenty thousand people, the world’s largest youth organization, Little League, thrives. From April through October MCLL averages one hundred and thirty five teams from T-Ball thru the seniors divisions in their spring, summer and fall leagues.
Massapequa Coast is a well run league, which is not just proud of its championships. The ball fields in Massapequa are nothing like many parents played on back in their Little League days. Over the past few years, through the hard work of the MCLL board and local elected officials, reconstruction took place at many fields. Besides town and school officials making improvements to the fields, the MCLL board has used league funds to donate over $100,000 in batting cages, scoreboards, player benches, other field fixtures and most importantly defibrillators at each of their area fields. The Massapequa Coast plays baseball on beautifully kept fields and the centerpiece is the unbelievable complex at Burns Park. Not only do the kids play baseball on fields that local colleges play ball on also, but they can practice taking swings at one of the seven batting cages available throughout the community, that were donated by the MCLL program to the area fields. On occasion you may not find the Little League on the field at Burns Park. This past September MCLL hosted the Supervisor’s Trophy Game, which included a free clinic by former Yankee, Rusty Torres and the coaches and players of two Division I programs, a barbeque and then a game between New York Institute of Technology and Hofstra University. The field was packed with kids a little after four o’clock and then the stands were filled with those same kids watching collegiate players in action.
Each season kicks off with a parade in April celebrating the beginning of baseball bats, gloves that need to be broken in, dirty uniforms and weekend baseball games. Over 1600 baseball players join together to commence the beginning of another Little League season. Children, ages five through eighteen get ready to play.
Anyone involved in baseball knows that towns have Little League, but then we also have many travel baseball teams spread throughout Long Island. MCLL does an incredible job of keeping their kids together. In the summer there are three levels of travel summer teams. The Williamsport Teams are just one of them. Many players in MCLL are afforded the opportunity to play together on a summer travel team. Once the teams, players and coaches have completed their little league seasons, the MCLL Board encourages them to seek other competition, like renowned tournaments such as Cooperstown Dreams Park, Disney Wide World of Sports and Ripken Tournaments, outside the reaches of Little League, so that their baseball experience is never ending.
Like Carl Stotz realized seventy years ago, none of this could be accomplished without the support of the local community. “The Massapequa community is what makes it all happen. The participation of the kids, the coaches, board members, partnerships with Town and School Officials, local businesses and parents are what makes MCLL what it is today,” said Garland. When asked how registration prices haven’t been raised in five years Garland credited his community again. “Local business establishments make donations to our program through sponsorships, our families patronize our snack stand, ‘The Coast Corner’ and a well managed league fund, with a three panel financial committee, all assist in deferring costs.
Craig Garland has been involved in MCLL for nineteen years, on the board of directors for thirteen years and for the past five years has been president of the league. Craig is very proud of the MCLL and the work of his supporting board members and community. “It makes me feel good that our efforts make for a positive, well rounded experience for the children and families in our community.” One of the most fulfilling accomplishments made in the past five years is the advancement of safety procedures by the league. In 2005 Little League on Long Island was devastated by the tragic loss of nine year old, Robbie Levine, of Merrick, NY. The question that loomed over that terrible day was whether having a defibrillator on the field would have prevented this tragedy from occurring. MCLL wasn’t going to take that chance. To the credit of Craig Garland, the board and the community, AED’s were placed at every baseball field in Massapequa after a three week fund raising drive that raised over $20,000. Over one hundred and fifty managers, coaches and board members are certified responders in case of an emergency and more are trained on an annual basis with the MCLL taking financial responsibility. Defibrillators are stored in locked storage containers, puchased by MCLL, at every field, where each manager has a master key. MCLL teaches fair play, sportsmanship and teamwork and incorporates many fair play rules, but above all it teaches safety to the volunteers in charge of the children.
The successes of MCLL are endless. There efforts are tremendous and their baseball players are successful beyond their years playing for “The Coast.” If you went to the Hofstra/New York Tech Supervisor’s Trophy Game you would have seen Matt Prokopowicz, a senior at Hofstra University. If you travel down the road to Adelphi you’ll see Mike Bartlett on the mound and Matt Barle playing the infield at Adelphi University. You could of course travel over bridges, take a train to the city or hop on a plane to travel to the other colleges that have Massapequa Coast Little League Alumni on the fields of NCAA Division I, II, and III schools. Just looking at the past six years, the MCLL has seen over thirty of its alumni go on to college baseball careers. A credit to the program, the coaches, the community, the players and of course their parents. With the efforts of everyone, these young little leaguers have been taught how to be a team player, how to be a gracious winner and of course, how to handle defeat.
“Not only was it a baseball game, but it brought family and friends together, There was nothing better than being on the ball field with my son and reliving that joy I had as a young boy. To this day I drive past the fields and think back on the experiences I was able to share with my son and the other children in this community.”
- A former coach and Massapequa resident