TO HONOR HOMETOWN HEROES
LITTLE LEAGUES WORLDWIDE
TO HONOR HOMETOWN HEROES
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Jan. 14, 2002) – Little League programs will honor their local heroes in celebrations worldwide as part of the “Honoring Our Hometown Heroes” initiative, as they pay tribute to the fallen heroes of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
“All of us realized, after the tragic events in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, that every community is blessed with men and women who are willing to risk their lives every day as part of their jobs,” Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball, said. “This is Little League’s way of saying ‘thank you,’ and showing them we appreciate their commitment.”
May 4, 2002 has been designated as Hometown Heroes Day for leagues in all 104 countries in which Little League is played. Also, one of the heroes of Sept. 11 will be given Little League Baseball’s highest honor at the annual Little League Baseball World Series in August.
The initiative is the latest in educational programs for Little League, the only sports organization with a federal charter of incorporation. Previous educational programs have included an anti-spit tobacco campaign, an initiative to teach children the dangers of abusing alcohol and drugs, and a traffic safety initiative.
“We are, first and foremost, an educational organization,” Mr. Keener said. “The sports of baseball and softball become tools in teaching children the values of sportsmanship, fair play and teamwork so they may become good citizens.
“This initiative supports that mission perfectly because Little Leaguers worldwide will know they, too, are protected by hometown heroes in their communities. Hometown heroes could include law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and military personnel. None of these people are drafted, or forced into these occupations. In that sense, they are volunteers who willingly take on the task and risk of protecting us, often with little recognition for their deeds.”
”Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball, speaks with Joseph and Linda Cammarata, Michael’s parents, following the news conference.”
A Real Hero to Admire
One of those heroes was Michael Cammarata, a firefighter attached to the New York City Fire Department’s Ladder Company 11 in lower Manhattan. Mr. Cammarata, who was last seen entering the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, played in the 1991 Little League Baseball World Series for the South Shore Little League team of Staten Island.
Mr. Cammarata called his family at 8:54 a.m. on Sept. 11 from the Ladder Company 11 firehouse on East Second Street in New York City, and left this message on the voicemail: “I am going to the World Trade Center, a plane hit it,” Mr. Cammarata said. “Just tell everyone I am all right.”
After the tragedy, the Cammarata family found a note Michael had left, if he were to perish in the line of duty. It read: “1 – Take care of Jenna (his girlfriend). 2 – Don’t mourn me this is the career I chose. 3 – Make my spirit live on. 4 – Remember I love you all and will be waiting for you upstairs. Signed Michael Cammarata Shield #1138.”
On Monday, Mr. Keener announced that Michael Cammarata will be the first person posthumously enshrined into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum Hall of Excellence, and the first firefighter so honored.
“Michael was the very embodiment of all three words in the Little League motto: character, courage, loyalty,” Mr. Keener said. “Little League is proud that it will help fulfill one of his wishes, to allow his spirit to live on through Little Leaguers everywhere. The example set by him and his comrades is something all of us will always admire.”
The Cammarata family will be guests of Little League Baseball during the 56th annual Little League Baseball World Series, scheduled for Aug. 16-25, 2002, in Williamsport. Previous enshrinees have included President George W. Bush, actor Kevin Costner, astronaut Story Musgrave, singer Bruce Springsteen, columnist/author George Will, and several Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.
“Michael loved playing Little League,” Linda Cammarata, Michael’s mother, said. “I can remember always taking him to games and practices like a chauffer. He was very athletic, and always gave 150 percent of himself, whether it was baseball, or hockey, or being a firefighter.”
Michael’s team finished as the U.S. runner-up in the 1991 Little League Baseball World Series. One player on that team, Jason Marquis, went on to play in the Major Leagues, and is now a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.
“The World Series was absolutely fantastic for Michael and our whole family,” Mrs. Cammarata said. “He had the time of his life.”
Hometown Heroes Day
On May 4 (the first Saturday in May), local Little Leagues worldwide will be encouraged to invite their own hometown heroes to the ballpark for a celebration. Little League International Headquarters has provided its leagues with free access to color certificates of appreciation they can present to those being honored. Leagues may also purchase a special “Honoring Our Hometown Heroes” commemorative patch at cost (25 cents each) to sew onto uniforms.
An information kit will be mailed to all local Little Leagues worldwide (about 7,400 leagues) regarding the initiative. Information is now available for local volunteers on the Internet at www.littleleague.org/heroes.
Little League Baseball 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.