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Bringing Order To City's Youth Baseball

Coalition Says Leagues Have Suffered Historically From Shortages Of Money And Volunteers

March 14, 2005
By JORGE AMARAL, Courant Staff Writer

Seven youth baseball leagues in Hartford have formed a coalition to combat what organizers say has been disorganization, a lack of funding and a lack of volunteers in the leagues for years.

The leagues - Hartford American Legion, the Roberto Clemente Little League, the McGinley-Crafa Little League, the Hartford Jaycees Courant, the Northend Little League, Pace Little League and the Rago-Coco Little League - remain as independent entities serving separate Hartford neighborhoods, but coalition leaders say the groups will coordinate efforts so that they're not competing for resources.

The coalition formed last August with the aim of having a stronger voice in addressing problems of money and the need for more volunteers, said David Williams, one of its founders. He is a resident of Bloomfield but has a son active in Little League in Hartford.

The organization is going to seek corporate sponsors but is still getting organized. Members have adopted bylaws and are getting established as a nonprofit entity with assistance from the University of Connecticut School of Law and the Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative.

Organizers have also received pledges of support from organizations such as the Connecticut Baseball Academy and the New Britain Rock Cats, and an invitation to apply for a Major League Baseball grant.

"But you can't just throw money at it. You need organization and a long-term plan," said David Kaplan of West Hartford, another of the coalition's founders and temporary treasurer.

Kaplan, who has been involved with Hartford baseball for about a dozen years, said the coalition would like to meet with Mayor Eddie A. Perez to ask for support. A representative of the mayor has recently joined the coalition as a liaison to the city. Organizers say they have had difficulty in the past with having the fields cut and the garbage collected at the fields.

One of the coalition's main goals, organizers said, is to combat the disorganization facing Hartford's youth baseball. With baseball season quickly approaching, organizers said that many of the leagues are behind schedule in buying uniforms, and that the fields aren't ready.

The coalition and leagues are still holding registration drives and trying to find coaches, although Kaplan and Williams said that they are ahead of schedule compared with previous years.

They said that planning for the season should begin in January in Hartford just as leagues in many towns do.

"What we need is locals involved, but that's like pulling teeth," Kaplan said. He admits that many parents and Hartford residents are taking a wait-and-see approach to the new coalition.

The coalition hopes to reach 1,500 city children and to eventually offer at least 10 months of activities. Other goals include upgrading the fields and bleachers to make them safer and to have a tournament-quality field in every part of Hartford.

The coalition is planning a jamboree for May for each league to play each other, to hold an all-state competition and to raise awareness of its efforts to build youth baseball in Hartford.

The coalition meets Mondays at 5:45 p.m. at the Pope Park Recreation Center. Meetings are open to anyone interested in volunteering. Two additional registration drives will be held Saturday and March 26 at Colt Park from 10 a.m. to noon

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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