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Crown Jewel of Summer

Those who believe in the cultural and life values that youth sports teach know that youth baseball in particular embodies those timeless values first and foremost. Baseball’s contribution to society has stood the test of time since Alexander Cartright and a group of Team Knickerbocker contemporaries developed the first set of codified rules in 1845.a

 

The words of movie character Terence Mann in Field of Dreams probably say it best…

 

The one constant through all the year, Ray, has been baseball.

American has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.

It’s been erased, rebuilt and erased again.

But baseball has marked the time.

This field, this game is a part of our past.

It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again.

                                                Universal Studios, 1989

No one understood these words or the concepts underlying them better than Louis ‘Coach’ Presutti, founder of Cooperstown Dreams Park (CDP). Beyond that,… Continue reading

Number Zero is anything but

The New York Yankees retired the number of Derek Jeter in a heart-warming ceremony on May 14.  Jeter wore the number two on the back of his jersey during his 20 major league seasons from 1995 to 2014.

With number two off the market for the Yankees, there is no single digit number remaining for any future Bronx Bombers—unless of course you count the number zero.

Zero is personified as a rarity in Major League Baseball, both on and off the field.  There’s always an air of anticipation when a no-hitter or a shutout is in progress.  Fans want to see history made, whether it’s a star pitcher going for a shutout or a rookie wonder attempting to pitch a perfect game.

Since numbers were formally introduced on the back of all team jerseys in 1929, there have been just 18 players in Major League history to wear the number zero—and none of them have been Yankees.  That’s a small amount.  For comparison’s sake, there have been 553 players to wear the number five.  In fact, 598 different players have worn the number three.

The first player to regularly wear number zero was Al… Continue reading

Bruno Franco: The Truth About Youth Baseball

 

Editor’s Note: LIB reprises the following article about Bruno Franco, who passed away recently. Bruno served youth baseball all his life and he inspired the formation and growth both of sandlot baseball throughout the five boroughs of New York as well as of the Bronx Umpires Alliance. He was and always will be one of the most beloved icons of youth baseball and the games’ umpires in the tri-state area and beyond. LIB is among the many sports organizations and sports people who were honored to know Bruno and to be guided by his gentle hand and loyal spirit.

When Bruno Franco, President of the Westchester Baseball Association, speaks about youth baseball, you can believe every word he says. For the past half century he has watched how the landscape and attitudes that define youth baseball have transformed a serene, national pastime into a callous, national industry. He despairs most about how youth travel teams have brought a 21st century focus on in-your-face, profits-motivated competition to what used to be a widely held enchantment with peaceful, fun days at the ballpark.

Mr. Franco is not a happy man.

In addition to his efforts on behalf of kids and baseball… Continue reading

12th Annual GNYSAA Service to Youth Baseball Awards Dinner

It was another festive evening at this year’s annual Greater New York Sandlot Athletic Alliance (GNYSAA) Service to Youth Baseball Awards Dinner. Coaches, scouts, current and former ballplayers gathered once more on Jan. 19 at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, N.Y. to celebrate their achievements and contributions to New York’s youth baseball community. GNYSAA members Victor Feld and Tom Sylvester hosted the evening and honored Joseph P. Ferrugio, Norris P. Gordon Jr., and Billy Blitzer for their accomplishments.

Blitzer was awarded the Lifetime Humanitarian Award for his 40 plus years as a scout and coach. Throughout Blitzer’s years as a pro scout, he has kept a close relationship with his roots in New York. He has invested his time to the GNYSAA, the New York Professional Hot Stove League, and Youth Service League. Blitzer has worked as a scout for the Chicago Cubs organization since 1982 and he won his first ring with the team in 2016. He has signed several MLB All-Stars and pro players such as Shawon Dunston, Jamie Moyer, Doug Glanville, and Gary Scott to name a few.

“I’ve always considered myself a sandlot person,” Blitzer said. “I always say that you should never forget… Continue reading

Legendary sports reporter, Craig Sager, dies at 65

The sports world lost on its most iconic figures on December 15. Sideline reporter, Craig Sager, passed away at the age of 65 after battling cancer. Sager spent over 40 years of his life as a sports reporter, most notably with the NBA. From his candid reporting tactics to his colorful and stylish suits, Sager was a game changer in the sports industry. Although most of his work came as a sideline reporter in the NBA, some of Sager’s most iconic moments came on the baseball field.

On the night of April 8, 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia, history was made. Hank Aaron slugged his then record-breaking 715th home run of his career and he was memorably bombarded by fans and reporters as he rounded the bases. Sager was one of the reporters in that crowd and he got to interview Aaron at home plate. Aaron recalled that moment on his Twitter account and stated that he and Sager have been friends ever since.

Craig Sager (left) up close with Hank Aaron (right) after his 715th home run. (Courtesy of sports.yahoo.com)

Sager was just a young reporter then, well before he became a renowned reporter. But that particular moment in 1974… Continue reading

All-Stars making noise in this year’s offseason

From Cy Young candidates to Silver Sluggers, several of the MLB’s top players have made headlines this offseason. Here’s a look at some of the biggest offseason acquisitions and re-signings so far.

The Boston Red Sox have added an ace to their star-studded roster by acquiring Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox in a blockbuster deal. The Red Sox shipped several of their prospects including Cuban infielder, Yoan Moncada, and they received one of the game’s elite pitchers in return.

Chris Sale made five American League All-Star teams as a member of the Chicago White Sox (Courtesy of usatoday.com)

Sale has been an All-Star in each of the last five seasons who has dominated batting lineups in the American League. Despite his individual achievements, Sale has never pitched in the postseason. Now, he has a strong chance to make his postseason debut in 2017. Sale will join 20-game winner, Rick Porcello, and All-Star left-hander, David Price in what could be the best starting rotation in the game.

There was some speculation as to whether or not outfielder, Yoenis Céspedes, would return to the New York Mets in 2017. However, he dispelled those rumors after signing four-year, $110 million deal… Continue reading

Anthony Varvaro leaves baseball to become a crime-fighter

After spending parts of six seasons in the MLB, former relief pitcher, Anthony Varvaro, has found a new career path. On December 8, Varvaro graduated from New York’s Port Authority police academy and became a police officer.

Varvaro, 32-year-old from Staten Island, made his last outing on June 15 for the Pawtucket Red Sox and decided to hang up his baseball cleats in the same month. However, it didn’t take him long to figure out what he wanted to do in his post-MLB career.

Anthony Varvaro during his stint with the Boston Red Sox (Courtesy of bostonglobe.com)

He graduated from St. John’s University in 2005 and majored in criminal justice. Shortly after graduating, the MLB came knocking at his door. Varvaro was selected in the 12th round by the Seattle Mariners in the 2005 MLB Draft. From there, he got to pitch for three MLB organizations spending most of his pro career with the Atlanta Braves. Most of his playing time was split between the minors and majors, but he pitched fairly well in the MLB.

Most of Varvaro’s MLB service came as a member of the Atlanta Braves (Courtesy of zimbio.com)

The former right-handed reliever compiled a 3.23 ERA… Continue reading

Pro Tips for Kids: with former Expos reliever, Don DeMola

Don DeMola is a former pitcher for the Montreal Expos in the mid 1970’s. He was drafted by the Yankees in the seventh round of the 1970 Amateur Draft out of South High School in Commack, New York.

“I was 18 years old when the Yankees invited me to Spring Training in 1971,” he said. Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer were there. I felt like I was in heaven!”

DeMola signed as a free agent with the Montreal Expos in January of 1973. The New York native referenced former 20-game winner, Mike Torrez as a mentor. Torrez was pitching for the Expos at the time of DeMola’s signing.

DeMola pitched one season in the minors before making his major league debut. He appeared in 25 games in 1974, 24 of which came in relief. The hard throwing righty went 1-0 and posted a 3.12 ERA, striking out 47 batters in 57.2 innings.

“Montreal is a great city and they really loved their Expos,” said DeMola. “They’re very passionate people and I enjoyed my time there very much. I hope they do get another team.”

The Expos reliever pitched two seasons in the major leagues. He owns… Continue reading

The Braves opt for Experience

The Atlanta Braves have reportedly signed Bartolo Colon to a one-year, $12.5 million contract. The 43-year old righty has spent the last three seasons with the Mets, posting a 44-34 record with a 3.90 ERA in 98 games—95 of which were starts.

Once thought of as a long reliever at the start of the season, Colon led the Mets with 15 wins and a 191.2 innings pitched. Injuries to Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler only highlighted the importance of the former Cy Young award winner in the rotation.

R.A. Dickey (Left) and Bartolo Colon (right) are the newest members of the Atlanta Braves. (Courtesy of espn.com)

This comes a day after Atlanta signed another aging former Cy Young award winner in 42-year old, R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer is coming off a poor season with the Blue Jays. He went 10-15 and posted a 4.46 ERA in 30 games (29 starts) with Toronto.

The signings of Colon and Dickey look to bolster a struggling Braves starting rotation. Atlanta starters posted a 4.87 ERA in 2016, which was the third worst in the major leagues last season. Only the Twins (5.39) and Diamondbacks (5.19) were worse.

Colon and Dickey will join ace… Continue reading

Jose Fernandez, 1992-2016

The baseball world has lost one of its brightest young stars. Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident along with two other victims on September 25 in Miami Beach. There has been an outpour of condolences from current and former MLB players as well as athletes from other professional sports. He was only 24 years old.

Jose Fernandez on the mound (Courtesy of bleacherreport.com)

Fernandez defected from his home country, Cuba in 2007 and he attended high school Tampa, Florida where he quickly became one of the most sought after prospects in baseball. The Marlins selected him as the 14th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft and he made his big league debut just two years later, making the National League All-Star team and winning the National League Rookie of the Year award.

Injuries briefly slowed down Fernandez’s career when he missed parts of 2014 and 2015 due to elbow issues. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014 and made his return in the following year.

In his final season, Fernandez showed nothing but brilliance on the mound. He made the All-Star team for the second time in his career and won a career-high 16 games… Continue reading

Tebow Pens a Contract with the Mets

Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has successfully landed a deal with the New York Mets. Tebow, who has not played baseball since his senior year of high school in 2005 received a $100,000 signing bonus on September 8 to play in the Mets’ minor league system. Tebow is no stranger to the Big Apple as he played for the New York Jets in 2012, his last full season on an NFL roster.

Tim Tebow practicing in front of 40 MLB scouts. (Courtesy of latimes.com)

The 29-year-old announced that he would switch gears to pursue a career in baseball last month after three seasons as an NFL quarterback. He held an open workout on August 30 in Los Angeles where 28 MLB teams watched him showcase his hitting and fielding skills.

Tebow during his tenure with the Denver Broncos. (Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

During his time as an NFL free agent, he worked as a college football analyst for ESPN with the SEC Network. Prior to his short pro career, Tebow spent four years with the Florida Gators where he became one of the top college football players in the nation. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2007, becoming the first sophomore… Continue reading

A Good Group of Kids – Diamond Pros: CDP 2016

An indomitable spirit has no boundaries and knows no limits. We are blessed to know one, and we stand in awe to see one. Although one emerges only so often, amazement and heart pounding expectation always define the moment each time it does.

Kerri Strug – Olympian Courage(Courtesy of pinterest.com)

Witness the courage of a Kerri Strug, who executed a winning Olympic vault despite a hobbling ankle sprain. Watch the fortitude of an injured Willis Reed as he inspired his New York Knicks to victory against the mighty Los Angeles Lakers. Recall the unrelenting passion of a Jimmy Valvano who, while battling cancer, exhorted all who heard his famous ESPY speech to “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

We do not often have the privilege to witness courage of the moment, courage on display. When we do we remember it forever. Jimmy Valvano reminded us, though, that we all have the capacity for courage. Whatever sports we play, whatever paths in life we choose, whatever challenges we face, each of us has within us the power to rise to meet head-on whatever confronts us.

Win or lose, we do not have to lose heart. Win or lose, we should… Continue reading

Reyes Returns to the Big Apple

The Dominican Republic baseball legend with a .290 career batting average, Jose Reyes returned to the New York Mets last week on a minor league deal. The four-time NL All-Star who last played for the Colorado Rockies was suspended earlier this year for domestic violence against his wife while they were on vacation.

Jose Reyes during his time with the Colorado Rockies (Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

So, what happened to Jose Reyes? The game changer, leadoff batter, and bag stealer?

Reyes left New York after the 2011 season to sign with the Miami Marlins for 6 years, $106 million, joining Greg Dobbs, Mike Cameron, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and draftee, Jose Fernandez. However, the Marlins produced no more than a flash in the pan in terms on progression and were almost forced, due to salary cap reasons, to trade Reyes and a handful of other established players to the Toronto Blue Jays in November of 2013. However, from there, the decline of Reyes slowly, but surely began.

In April of 2013, following the trade from the past November, Reyes was carted off the field after hearing a pop in his left ankle while chasing a ball.

After a few unproductive and… Continue reading

L.I. Baseball Magazine Remembers Sports Icon, Muhammed Ali (1942-2016)

Boxing legend and social justice activist Muhammed Ali passed away on June 3, 2016 at the age of 74 after a 30-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was laid to rest at his hometown in Louisville, Kentucky just a week later where over 10,000 supporters celebrated his life and legacy.

Muhammed Ali, gone at 74 (Courtesy of pinterest.com)

Born as Cassius Clay in 1942, Ali first captivated the sports world when he defeated Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight Championship at just 22 years old. This was his first of three heavyweight titles to go along with his Olympic Gold Medal that he won in 1960. He was one of the most gifted fighters in the history of professional boxing and he fought with an air of confidence that no one had ever seen at the time. Ali is widely regarded as the greatest athlete of all time and his Sportsman of the Century award by Sports Illustrated is just one of his many accolades that backs up his prominence.

One of his most memorable moments came in 1996 when carried the torch to light the flame at the Summer Olympics at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. He… Continue reading

Freeport native Justin Dunn drafted by the New York Mets

Boston College ace, Justin Dunn is latest player drafted to hail from Long Island. He was ranked as one of the top pitchers in the nation when the New York Mets drafted him as the 19th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.

Justin Dunn pitching for the Boston College Eagles (Courtesy of baseballamerica.com)

Dunn, 20, began his baseball journey in Freeport, Long Island as a six-year-old before playing competitively at the age of eight. He stated that he’s thrilled to see his big league aspirations coming to fruition.

“It’s awesome,” Dunn said. “It’s awesome to see that all the hard work, late nights, and training sessions are paying off.”

Dunn was drafted in the 2013 MLB First-Year Players Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 37th round. He chose to attend Boston College instead, stating that he wasn’t quite ready to play for a big league organization.

“Major League Baseball is a grind,” Dunn said. “At the time, physically and mentally I wasn’t ready for this.”

Dunn and BC Eagles have enjoyed a historical season for their program in 2016, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years and advancing to the Super Regionals… Continue reading

CBP and the GNYSAA Have Agreed on a Partnership

Long Island Baseball Magazine has an announcement that we’ve longed to make for quite some time. County Baseball Publications and the Greater New York Sandlot Athletic Alliance have agreed to partner in pursuit of jointly held organizational goals, promoting youth baseball in the greater NY/tri-state region (NY-NJ-CT).

Other goals that our new company has include the following:

• Recruiting interns to build their careers in sports publishing and sports marketing

• Earn Top Commissions in one-fourth the time

• Connecting with top coaches and training programs at all age levels

Don’t wait to connect with us! CALL OR EMAIL US FOR MORE DETAILS TODAY!!!

Daniel Corona Shines Light on Brooklyn’s Top Baseball Players

When opportunity comes knocking at your door, you have to be willing to step up and answer that calling. Brooklyn native Daniel Corona has answered his calling and then some. How many kids can say they got to close out a World Cup game for USA Baseball’s 12 and under team?

Daniel Corona pitching for Team USA’s 12U team (Courtesy of bluestormbaseball.com)

Daniel secured Team USA’s gold medal victory in the 2015 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Cup. He is a 12-year-old shortstop/pitcher who plays travel team baseball for the Brooklyn Blue Storm. He is the first amateur player from the Greater New York Sandlot Athletic Alliance (GNYSAA) to play for Team USA’s National Team. GNYSAA president Victor Feld expressed his gratitude to Daniel for the accomplishments that he and his team have made.

“Incredible gratification to see a young man who’s got ability progress and take it to another level and make a national team like the USA team,” said Victor. “I think that’s phenomenal.”

World Baseball Softball Confederation logo (Courtesy of isfsoftball.org)

This is an outstanding achievement, considering the fact that former professional ballplayers like John Franco and Willie Randolph grew up playing baseball in this organization.… Continue reading

11th Annual GNYSAA Service to Youth Baseball Awards Dinner

Since its inception 1961, the Greater New York Sandlot Athletic Alliance (GNYSAA) has supported the growth of youth baseball, showing kids how to play the game the right way. The GNYSAA.org website states their mission, “to serve the children of New York City and the Greater Metropolitan Area through baseball while promoting an attitude of professionalism and fair play.”

John W. “Jack” Kaiser, Joseph Russo, and Dominic Scala headlined the honorees for this year’s awards ceremony. These three men were all alumni from St. John’s University, what one of the speakers referred to as the mecca of college baseball in the northeast. Tom Sylvester organized the dinner and Victor Feld orchestrated a fantastic evening where high school players, former ballplayers, and current college coaches came together to commend each other’s achievements. Here’s some background information on this year’s honorees.

John W. “Jack” Kaiser (Courtesy of abca.org)

Jack Kaiser is one of the most decorated figures in the history of baseball in New York. His incredible baseball journey took off at St. Johns University where he became a student-athlete in 1944. His baseball talents were recognized by Varsity Magazine in 1949 when they named him as the College Player of the… Continue reading

Griffey and Piazza are heading to Cooperstown

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has unveiled its newest members! Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) for the 2016 Hall of Fame class. Griffey made history by receiving 99.3% of the votes, the most for any Hall of Famer. Piazza was elected with 83% of the votes during his fourth year on the ballot. Griffey and Piazza were trailblazers at their respective positions throughout their careers. Here’s a list of their accomplishments and what they each meant to the game.

Mike Piazza (left) and Ken Griffey Jr. (right) (Courtesy of newyork.cbslocal.com)

Ken Griffey Jr. was destined for greatness. He was drafted as the #1 overall pick by the Seattle Mariners in 1987 at the age of 18. Griffey played an exciting brand of baseball at the plate and in centerfield and was a fixture on sports highlight reels. He was undoubtedly the best player in the 1990s and he had the numbers to prove it. He’s sixth all-time on the HR list with 630, he has 2,781 hits, and he was elected to 13 All-Star games. Defensively, he won 10 Golden Glove Awards as a centerfielder by taking away… Continue reading

Baseball Talk with the Bronx Umpires Alliance

The Bronx Umpires Alliance dinner is held annually for umpires in the Bronx area of New York. They mainly cover outdoor sports such as baseball, softball, and football. It’s a time for umpires to rejoice, discuss the previous season, and what’s ahead for the upcoming season.

Bronx Umpires Alliance Logo (Courtesy of eteamz.com)

Their discussions at the dinner consisted of several common themes, including the state of coaching in youth baseball, the scarcity of baseball players in New York, and the way the game is played today. Guest of honor, Fortunato Salvietti explained that most children in New York are more into lacrosse and soccer.

“They have to get the kids more interested in the game of baseball,” said Salvietti. “The competition [in New York] was a lot higher than it is now. When you go down south, that’s where all the real competition is.”

Salvietti has umpired for 27 years. Over that span, he has umpired in over 50 different leagues. He grew up as a player in leagues officiated by the BUA and now he’s umpiring with some of the same officiators.

“The transition was easy. If you love baseball, you can be a good umpire,” said Salvietti.… Continue reading

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