Season Open!Updated Sunday April 24, 2016 by John Hand.
All teams are announced, and schedules posted. Umpires ordered. Hats and Uniforms are being printed. Rec games start in 10 days for our older players, and end of the month for your younger. For AA, A and T Ball teams, expect to hear from your Coaches within the week.
Reminder Bottle Drive is Sat April 9 9-12 at our Babe Ruth Field parking lot. Field Day is next Saturday April 16 at 9am. We'll clean the fields, put up screens, sponsor banners and so forth.
Please find below our Opening Message from League President Chris Mennillo:
As we near the first pitch of the 2016 baseball season I wanted to send a note to the league with some coming attractions. The league has continued to maintain strong registration numbers during a period of time where many leagues are losing players at an alarming rate. Approximately 500 kids are enrolled in our program this season making up 48 teams throughout the league.
In addition to creating a competitive and balanced program at Babe Ruth, Majors, and AAA the Board of Directors has implemented changes to enhance the experience for our younger levels. The league has reduced the number of players per team at AA, A, and T-Ball level to allow more kids the opportunity to play infield positions, increase the amount of action each game, and have more at bats on the offensive side of the ball. A new coach’s handbook and clinic style approach will allow these younger teams the time they need to learn and develop while creating a game environment where players are more active. The league will be hosting a mandatory coaching meeting with periodic updates throughout the season to ensure implementation of the new format hits the mark.
Our travel program continues to compete at a very high level. Last year we increased the number of teams participating and will hold steady with seven teams at the Cal Ripken Level again this season. A pilot program at the eight year old level is in play this season which allows for a larger roster. Each week a number of players will participate in game activity with the goal of creating a sliding scale on number of games per player for the season. This will allow more players than previous years to participate in games and practice throughout the season. The goal is to create a learning environment where young players are encouraged to participate and take part on the practice field to develop their skills. Babe Ruth will have two teams this season (13U and 14U) as well as a Mickey Mantle level that includes both 15 and 16 year old players.
Niskayuna will once again play host to a few tournaments this year. The 14U Travel All-Star team will open the travel season hosting the annual Empire State Baseball Memorial Day Tournament while the 13U Travel All-Star team will open the start of All-Star season playing host to the Babe Ruth District Tournament. Future tournaments in 2017 and 2018 are in application form with announcements coming soon.
Off the field the league continues to evaluate ways to enhance our parks and facilities. This season an investment is being made in upgrading the GE Imagination fields with pitching mounds and infield renovations allowing for a few Major and AAA games to be played there. This is of significant importance as we are instituting new pitching rules to reduce the stress put our young arms. The mechanics of why these changes are important can be explained in more detail during your parent/coaches meeting prior to the start of play.
We have over 60 Sponsors this year, and we are appreciative of their support. You'll see them on our team names, reported in standings and newspaper articles, banners around the field and web site. Please patronize or thank them around town.
There are a few fundraisers this year including the registration raffle which also acts as a rebate of sorts for families signing up. We will start the raffle in a few short weeks. The annual Fun Run event is taking shape bringing the community together for its second year. There will be an announcement soon of a New York Yankees bus trip (spoiler alert: It will be in August for a very special Yankee Game that just might see the Core Four: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera take the field for a pregame ceremony).
You will also see a new photographer around the park. Niskayuna Baseball has signed a multiyear contract with local company Big League Pics (BLP). This new contract will bring a different spin to your photograph needs. You will still have the option for that traditional studio style photo of your favorite baseball player but you will also be given access to live action photos of game day highlights. These pictures that bring lasting memories to life can be purchased on shirts, posters, fatheads, and many other items to choose from. BLP has also generously donated to the raffle ticket prize fund with bikes and fatheads for the winning participants.
In closing I want to take my hat off to all the dedicated volunteers in this organization. Coaches and Managers thanks for volunteering and leading your teams. Also a special thanks to the incredible team on the Board of Directors. There is a lot of hard work that takes place once that final pitch is thrown in August to get us back here in April. This league would not survive without all of you.
Lastly thank you parents for signing up your child to play baseball. We hope this a great season for every one in your family.
PLAY BALL!!! Assuming Mother Nature doesn’t throw us another curve.