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
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
"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.
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