Washingtonville Little League’s 60th Opening Day
By Eugenia Moskowitz
First pitches are ceremonial in nature, honoring someone who made an impact on that team. In Washingtonville, the biggest baseball impact was made in 1958 when the Washingtonville Little League franchise was formed. The boys who played, the dads who coached them, and the hundreds of volunteers who built Mays Field (which opened in 1959), created a lasting movement that, 60 years later, is still growing as more than 500 people came on Apr. 14 to celebrate the club’s 60th anniversary Opening Day parade and celebration.
Under current president Scott Davy, the celebration took a year of planning, a lot of skill and ingenuity, and just a little luck. As Davy told the crowd at Mays Field where the parade through town culminated, last summer he had been chatting with a man who by fluke happened to be Ron Feller, the kid who threw out the first pitch of the 1958 inaugural season. From that moment on, Davy contacted people who played ball here from 1958 through 1962, 17 of whom came to Mays Field to be honored. After the pledge of allegiance was said and the Star Spangled Banner sung by Lily Moreno, and after Blooming Grove supervisor Rob Jeroloman and Washingtonville and South Blooming Grove mayors Joe Bucco and Jim Lofranco spoke, the 17 boys who played in the league’s earliest games were introduced by Sam Quimby. There were only 4 teams back then — the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants — and the men from these teams then tossed out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2018 season as a group throw.
The parade had followed a special longer route starting at North St. and Ahern Blvd. for its 60th anniversary so that the 17 players had more visibility passing through the village. Next year it will return to its regular route starting at the high school, but this year it passed under many of the 80 blue and gold commemorative banners hung from telephone poles throughout the town, which will be taken down after Thanksgiving and given to the people who sponsored them as keepsakes. After the celebration at Mays Field, opening games were played, and festivities were held at Fulton Square with food and live music by Hudson Blue. A special evening banquet was then held afterwards at the Meadowbrook.
Over the decades, WLL uniforms have gone through many changes to reflect the styles of the times. To remember a decade when many of the current coaches grew up, this year’s majors division shirts bear not only the names of their sponsors on the back but also a 1970’s zodiac name on the front. As someone once sung, “those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end.”
But end they do, and pass into the pages of history. But as Davy showed on that glorious and sunny 80-degree day, the torch is still burning as brightly as it was in 1958, and simply by tossing a ball, was handed down to the children who, like the game of baseball itself, just keep going on and on.
CAPTION 1: Over 500 people assembled at Mays Field at the end of the league’s 60th Opening Day Parade. (Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)
CAPTION 2: The original players from 1958-62 wore 60th anniversary commemorative t-shirts with their names emblazoned on the backs. (Photo provided by Washingtonville Little League)