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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2005 > Newark’s Urban Initiative Little Leagues Thank Their Supporters

Newark’s Urban Initiative Little Leagues Thank Their Supporters

Javier Mejia of the Roberto Clemente Little League delivers the Little League Pledge.

(Please scroll down to see photo coverage of this event)
NEWARK, N.J. (Feb. 24, 2005) – Outside, a snowstorm dumped several inches of the white stuff. But inside The Newark Club tonight, the talk was all about baseball and softball.

In its inaugural Field of Dreams Awards Reception, the Little League Urban Initiative programs of Newark paid homage to their own hometown heroes who have made the program such a success. Despite the harsh weather, the room was packed.

“This is a chance for our Little Leagues in Newark to say thank you,” Mike Alban, chairman of the Newark Little League Committee, said. “We’re all looking forward to the season starting, as you can see. Even on a night like this, everyone showed up.”

The Little League Urban Initiative was established to provide assistance for eligible leagues and aid local volunteers in supplying a constructive athletic outlet for children, while fostering a sense of community and fair play. Now in its fifth year, the Urban Initiative plays a significant role in locating and assisting in the revitalization of fields and facilities to best serve children and families in densely populated areas where Little League may not have had a presence in the past.

The seven Newark Little Leagues are part of New Jersey District 8 (District Administrator Rich Franco), and have formed the Newark Little League Committee with a stated goal to “guide and support each league within the city of Newark, to build responsible citizens, to provide a program of leadership, and to prepare today’s youth to be tomorrow’s leaders.” The leagues are: Central Ward Little League; Ironbound Little League; Jackie Robinson-South Ward Little League; North Ward Center/Rick Cerone Little League; Roberto Clemente Little League; St. Francis Xavier Little League; and West Ward Little League. Players from each of the leagues also attended.

“The Little League programs in Newark have done a fantastic job of promoting and growing the Little League program in the city,” David James, Little League Urban Initiative director, said. “This event was an opportunity not only to thank their supporters, but to introduce themselves to new partners and potential new partners in their community.”

Those honored at the ceremony were:

  • Marc E. Berson and Steven B. Kalafer, owners of the Newark Bears Minor League baseball club – Mr. Berson and Mr. Kalafer received the Newark Little Leagues’ Larry Doby Community Service Award for the Bears’ outstanding support of the Little League programs in Newark over the years. The award is named for the first African-American player in the American League. Before joining the Cleveland Indians in 1947, Mr. Doby starred with the Negro National League's Newark Eagles for four seasons, leading them to a championship in 1946. On hand to help make the presentation was Mr. Doby’s son, Larry Doby Jr.
  • Gail A. Davis, urban development manager in the Community and Urban Affairs Department of the Public Service Electric and Gas Company. (PSE&G) – Ms. Davis has been instrumental not only in helping to promote the Little League Urban Initiative, but many other projects of benefit to Newark’s residents in her 29 years at PSE&G. She received the Newark Little Leagues’ Corporate Achievement Award.
  • David Giordano, president of the Newark Firefighters Union for 12 years – Mr. Giordano was presented with the Newark Little Leagues’ MVP Award for his unwavering assistance to various community groups, including the Little Leagues of Newark. His support of Little League stems from childhood, when he played in Newark’s North Ward Little League.

Many organizations have contributed to the success of Little League Urban Initiative projects on local or a national level. Major supporters are listed here:

Major League Baseball
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Washington D.C. Parks and Recreation Department
The Wilson Sporting Goods Company
Chicago Park District
American Honda Motor Company
Houston Recreation and Parks Department
Comcast/The Comcast Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Popular Mechanics Magazine
The Teammate for Kids Foundation
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
The City of Tampa, Fla.
The City of Atlanta

Local supporters of the Urban Initiative in Newark include: MCJ Foundation; Newark Bears; Prudential Financial; Newark Firefighters Union; and the Public Service Electric and Gas Company.

David James, Little League International director of the Urban
Initiative, speaks with local league officials from Newark
before the awards ceremony.
Gail A. Davis, urban development manager in the Community and Urban Affairs Department of the Public Service Electric and Gas Company accepts the Newark Little League’s Corporate Achievement Award. James Fernandez, a player in the St. Francis Xavier Little League, reads an essay he wrote about the ways Little League has helped him to become a better student and citizen.
David Giordano (left), president of the Newark Firefighters Union, accepts the Newark Little Leagues’ MVP Award from Luther Roberson III, president of Central Ward Little League. Marc E. Berson (left), co-owner of the Newark Bears Minor League Baseball team, accepts the Newark Little Leagues Larry Doby Community Service Award from Newark Little Leagues’ Committee Chairman Mike Alban.