The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Little League season opens in Bedford Hills, albeit with day games only


By ANTHONY R. MANCINI
ANTHONY R. MANCINI PHOTO

Throwing the ceremonial pitch is John DiRago at Bedford Hills Memorial Park, celebrating the opening of the spring Bedford Hills/Katonah Little League season.

 

Bedford Hills/Katonah Little League held its opening day ceremony on Sunday, April 28 at the Bedford Hills Memorial Park, to a field without functioning lights, which were removed due to damage from Hurricane Sandy. The league’s president said a goal for this season is to raise $60,000, so night games can once again be played on the field.

Bill DiRago, the league’s president, said the the organization had to incur significant expenses when Sandy brought down one of the field’s five wooden light poles onto a set of bleachers, significantly damaging them. Mr. DiRago said that the league took this as an opportunity to replace the both sets of bleachers on the field with newer, safer sets. The remaining light poles, which were first erected in 1983, were later inspected by insurance assessors. Mr. DiRago said two poles were deemed unsafe and had to be removed.  He said the league opted to remove every wooden light pole, because having two poles cannot sufficiently light up the field and that national little league standards are phasing out wooded poles for more sturdier steel light fixtures. The field has one steel light pole currently, the only light fixture remaining.

Mr. DiRago said that the league is bearing the cost of the repairs and replacements, which are funded through donations. He said the league has managed to raise $25,000 so far. Light fixtures cost $26,000 apiece and that the wooden poles cost $4,500 to remove.

“We own the poles. The town was concerned  that they’re on town property. They were concerned if something happened, they could be liable,” Mr. DiRago said last Friday. “We’re totally 100 percent separate from the town of Bedford. The town of Bedford does not give us any help financially at all, zero. It cost us $4,500 just to take the poles down without any help from the town.”

The league’s president said raising $60,000 would help to place a down payment on the light fixtures, which the league would then finance. He said this season is definitely going to remain lightless, but that he hopes his organization will raise enough money to replace the lights next season.

Mr. DiRago said the league’s majors division, which includes 11- and 12-year-old children and the travel teams are going to be most affected by losing the lights. He said play would have to be stopped around 8 p.m. for the safety of the players.

“Over the summer, it allows our travel teams to play night games and allows us to schedule 10 games a week Monday through Friday instead of five games a week,” he said. “By not having those lights and not being able to bring the games in, we lose all those games and scheduling becomes very difficult.”

Mr. DiRago said his organization is looking into grant opportunities and is planning to  host fundraisers. One such event is a golf outing planned for June 17 at the E. Gaynor Brennan Public Golf Course in Stamford.

At the opening day ceremony, Mr. DiRago honored his father John DiRago, who died in January after losing a battle with cancer.

“A lot of the reason the field looks like the way it does is because of my father. He spent hours and hours down here every week for over 25 years and as a kid I used to come down here with him,” he said on Sunday. “To be able to stand out here as president of the league now, I know I made him proud. He was always here for the kids and did everything great for this league.”

Assemblyman David Buchwald and county legislator Peter Harckham, who both represent Bedford, praised both the league and John DiRago’s service at the ceremony and presented the league president with formal resolutions honoring the organization.

“He knew, as I think all of us do, that baseball brings together a community,” Mr. Buchwald said about John DiRago. “It does that year in and year out in Bedford Hills/Katonah.”

Mr. Harckham stressed the need for community-oriented events and urged the little leaguers to play ball.

“Nothing says family and community like little league baseball and it’s our job as parents and coaches and elected officials to keep our young people safe,” he said on Sunday. “It’s their job to have fun.”


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May 3, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

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  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


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  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

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  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


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  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

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Mount Kisco

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Cross River

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