It Will Be About The Kids

1 04 2010

Fingers were pointed and voices were raised at Community Board 4’s Parks and Recreation meeting as Little League presidents and managers argued about Bushwick’s 2010 season.

High on the agenda was the poor maintenance of the diamonds at Hope Park, Bushwick Park, Thomas Boyland Park, and Knoll Park and the best way to improve their conditions.

But presidents and managers had other concerns in mind.

“My kids were left stranded last year,” Robert Colon, owner of BQ Sports Center, said at the meeting. “You don’t like me, that’s fine.  We’ll talk about it over coffee.  But at the end, it’s all about the kids.”

Colon’s message was echoed by others who referred to a 2009 season that appeared quite disastrous.  Teams didn’t show up to scheduled games, players weren’t taken to games outside the community, and local parks went unused.

Many charged last year’s events were deliberate.

“The adults mess it up for the kids,” Ray Martinez, owner of Field of Dreams, said at the meeting.  “We’re all under one umbrella but each umbrella can’t get along.”

The friction between league officials has been ongoing.  Every year, owners argue over who deserves the best fields and which league should get to use the travelling charter that allows Bushwick little leaguers to play against teams in Staten Island and sometimes even Boston.  They are attempts by league sponsors and representatives not only to have players return next summer but also in recruiting prospects and their families.

But many fear owners forget the most important aspect of little league baseball.

 “All leagues think they’re better than each other,” Nadine Whitted, Community Board 4’s District manager, declared. “They take the joy out of the game and forget that it’s about the kids.”

One of the board’s roles is to recommend who gets permits for certain parks.  If owners don’t shape up Whitted warned, they can kiss that perk away, “These adults act like crazy soccer moms and one day little league is going to be regulated by legislation.”

League officials are trying their best to avoid that.

For starters, Committee Chairperson Austen Martinez asked that each league donate five spots on their rosters to underprivileged kids in the community, “Stop saying it’s about the kids,” Martinez dared the owners.  “If it was, you would do it for free.”

There was even talk among officials about an inter-league championship game.

As for the condition of the community parks, Martinez requested that each owner go to the four fields and list what needs to be fixed.  A letter will be written to the New York City Parks and Recreation department.

“We want to see people in Bushwick using the parks.  They belong to the entire community,” Martinez said.  “We don’t want people to think that we don’t have the manpower to represent the kids of Bushwick.”

League presidents and owners are hopeful about better seasons to come.

“Things can be fixed,” Colon optimistically claimed, “but you must first turn on the stove to cook.”

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