Manhattan’s Downtown Little League Experiences “Weekend In Williamsport”
Click here for a photo album from the “Weekend in Williamsport”
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (May 20, 2002) – About 200 boys and girls from the Downtown Little League of Manhattan were treated this weekend to an experience dreamed about by millions of children around the world.
Without a home for the 2002 season because of the work to clear the rubble from the World Trade Center, 17 teams from the league traveled by bus to the home of Little League in Williamsport, Pa., for a weekend of games and fun – a Weekend in Williamsport. Most of the families in the league live within a few blocks of the area now known as “ground zero.”
“This is like a miracle come true,” said one Downtown Little Leaguer as he stepped from the bus to see Howard J. Lamade Stadium, site of the annual Little League Baseball World Series, for the first time. “This is just like Yankee Stadium,” said another.
The teams of 9-to-14-year-olds were housed in dormitories used each August for Little League Baseball World Series teams. Little League provided meals and lodging to the players, managers and coaches – a total of about 250 people.
Local businesses in the New York also stepped forward to help defray expenses for the weekend, including the New York Yankees, who provided the five busses needed to bring the teams to Williamsport and return them to New York City. Russell Athletic supplied souvenir shirts at no charge to all teams, and Snicker’s donated ice cream bars. Local Little League volunteers in Pennsylvania and other states pitched in to help in umpiring, concession stand help and field maintenance.
“At some point, you have to be able to say it’s time to move on,” Vito Suppa, president of the Downtown Little League of Manhattan, said. “This is a great way to say that to these kids.”
Teams arrived Friday night and games were played all day Saturday and most of Sunday on five fields. Many of the 22 games for the Weekend in Williamsport were played in Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Little League Volunteer Stadium, the two venues where the annual Little League Baseball World Series is played.
Teams attended baseball skills clinics and received a tour of the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, as well as a picnic for the players and their families. All of the events were free.
Downtown Little League’s fields were located in Battery Park City, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. After the attacks, the ball fields were taken over as a staging area for the heavy equipment used in removing the rubble. It is expected that the league will regain use of the property next year. In the meantime, the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department and other local Little League programs have teamed up to help the Downtown Little League use other facilities this year.
Little League, founded in 1939 in Williamsport, is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with approximately 2.8 million children and 1 million volunteers in every U.S. state and 103 other countries.
Players, managers, coaches and administrators for Downtown Little League of Manhattan gather for a photo on the terraced hill beyond the outfield fence of Howard J. Lamade Stadium for a photo. The photo was taken just before the group boarded five buses for the trip back to New York City. (click on the photo to view a larger version)