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Syosset Baseball 2009 – A Year in Review

As Syosset Baseball Association concludes another successful year of youth baseball in the community, we approach our year-end Annual Awards Dinner.

The season started just after last year’s Awards Dinner where New York Mets pitcher, John Maine, was the featured guest speaker to over 500 players and parents at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

Two days after our dinner, the 9-Year-Old Fall Travel team was declared the champions of their National Junior Baseball League Division by NJBL Officials. Congratulations to Frank Laine and his 9-year-old championship team who were awarded trophies from NJBL as well as recognition from Syosset Baseball Association.

Shortly thereafter, several of the board members had the privilege of meeting new registrants as here was in-person registration for the new crop of baseball players for the Spring ’09 intramural season both in the 5-year-old T-Ball program as well as new families to the community.

As registration concluded, managers and coaches were put together by the Syosset Baseball Association Board of Directors and notifying them of their appointment as managers/coaches for the upcoming year.

As winter set in, West in Huntington, was gracious to extend free clinics to many of the divisions to get players into shape and enhance their skills. Toward the end of January into the beginning of February, the 9-12 year old divisions went through an evaluation process to assess their skills in preparation for the upcoming drafts.

Drafts to form the 2009 intramural teams took place the last week in February as equipment bags were assembled and put together in preparation for the managers to pick up equipment and start practices prior to the start of opening day.

As was the norm for the 2009 season, rain delayed the start of the Syosset Baseball Association opening day games. Throughout the season, under the direction of board members, Larry Meltzer and Doug Mayer, an assembled group of volunteers, board members, managers, coaches and parents worked fields with rakes and quick-dry each and every day that the rains tried to dampen our season, only to be overmatched by Team SBA and thus most games were played throughout the entire intramural season.

Thanks for all your efforts and hard work throughout the season.

Before the opening day season started, Syosset Baseball Association hosted a site for Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit and Run with an opportunity for winners to move forward into the MLB’s Sectional competition and hopes of going all the way to St. Louis for the finals during the Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. Congratulations to Aaron Lafazan who not only was able to advance to the sectional competition held in Amityville, New York, but was also able to advance for the regional competition held in Yankee Stadium.

Now that the regular season had started, the events for the season were well under way with clinics and picture day taking place for the 5 and 6-year-old T-Ball Divisions at the beginning of May.

The traditional Memorial Day All-Star games and picnic took place without a hitch and beautiful weather as games for the 8-year-old through Senior Divisions took place throughout the day under the sunny skies. Executive Director of Travel Artie Johansen, the Memorial Weekend Picnic chairman, had plenty of food for the hungry players and families with several board members assisting throughout the day manning the grills, replenishing the condiments, munchies and Official Watermelon Cutter and long-standing Board Member, Bill Lewis. Bagel Master of Syosset was extremely accommodating in providing complimentary bagels and coffee for the opening 8-year-old All-Star games. A dunk tank and moon bounce provided entertainment for those younger children coming to the games to watch their siblings play. A cotton candy machine with complimentary cotton candy for all was a new addition and big hit. Hall of Fame pitcher, Cleveland Indians Bob Feller was on hand to greet players and parents and was gracious and accommodating with autographs and photos. Mr. Feller had the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the Major League Division game. Quackerjack, The Long Island Ducks mascot found his way to Syosset Woodbury Park to mingle with the crowd for a few hours and enjoy the day’s games. A special thanks to the volunteers and Mr. Ed Keenan from the Syosset Volunteer Fire Department for their help and assistance throughout the day on various aspects of the day’s events…much appreciated! The evening finished off with the First Annual Turnpike Challenge games between the 9/10-Year-Old Division and the 11/12-Year-Old Division from Syosset vs. Jericho.

A contingent of SBA players and families followed up the day’s festivities with a representation in the town Memorial Day parade through the town of Syosset.

A special thank you from Syosset Baseball Association needs to be acknowledged to the Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor, John Venditto, Director of Operations, Mr. Andrew Rothstein, Councilman, Mr. Chris Coshignano for all their help, assistance and efforts in renaming the Lewis Lane field to Michael Lewis Wolkis Field in memory of Michael Wolkis, 15-year-old son of Vice President of Syosset Baseball Association, Jerry Wolkis. Michael was tragically lost during an accident one year ago. Michael is also remembered at the Syosset Woodbury Park field with his name and number prominently recognized on the scoreboard.

The season wound down toward the playoffs starting at the beginning of June, finally crowning champions in 9 through Senior Division Leagues. The Junior and Senior Leagues were awarded their championship and runner-up trophies at the conclusion of their games at their fields.

During the playoffs, the 10-year-old Division Semi-Final game between IEAH Stables and Inter-Reco had to go into extra innings, concluding after 13 innings and 3 days (due to darkness each night) before IEAH Stables prevailed to move on versus Grassi & Co, LLP for the 10-year-old Championship.

Summer travel started the day after the school concluded with travel teams taking the fields throughout the tri-state area in respective games in the 8 through 17-year-old Divisions.

Syosset was represented in Cooperstown again this year with a team taken to Cooperstown by John Persichilli and Kim Ott. This team enjoyed the moment of Cooperstown as they worked their way through the 108 assembly of teams from all over the United States, exchanging pins, playing, living and sleeping baseball throughout the week. Thanks to all those families who helped support the Cooperstown team in 2009 as the 2010 team is now assembling for their journey to Cooperstown, New York next summer.

The Great American Baseball Company instructional camp came to Syosset for the sixth-year with a highly successful week of instructional baseball, highlighted by a visit to the fields by Mr. Ray Negron, Special Advisor to New York Yankees, owner George Steinbrenner and Cesar Presbott, chief scout for the New York Yankees. Mr. Negron gave out his latest book, One Last Time to each attending player and autographed all books. Mr. Presbott was intensely hands-on with fielding instruction to all players as they passed through the fielding station that he was overseeing during his visit with us.

The Long Island Ducks hosted Syosset Baseball Association and honored the AAA Division Champions, Schneider, Mitola prior to the start of the game with all players assembling on the field next to their Long Island Ducks player counterpart for the national anthem.

The fall baseball season, besides hosting Syosset Baseball Association travel teams, has over 200 players playing in the fall Bethpage baseball league with many games being played on our very own Syosset fields.

It’s now fall and with the World Series upon us and football, hockey and basketball around, we wind down another year towards this year’s Annual Awards Dinner to be held at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009.

The tradition continues, acknowledging the accomplishments of the 2009-year with trophies awarded to the 9-12-year-old first place teams, champions and runner-ups as well as second place teams in all divisions. Additionally, participation acknowledgement plaques will be awarded to all travel players summer and fall as well as acknowledgement to the 10 year old teams that played 13 innings with the Presidents Award, presented by President Rob Jolson for sportsmanship.

This year’s dinner will feature a silent auction of memorabilia, raffles and a special raffle for a chance to get a batting lesson from New York Yankees Batting Coach Kevin Long.

As always, a featured guest speaker will be addressing the group with a limited amount of favors available to all eligible paying players, to receive a favor from the featured guest speaker.

Registration information for the Awards dinner is available on the website www.syossetbaseball.org with registration fee at $35 per guest for advance registration. Walk-In registration fee will be $50 per guest the day of the event and will not guarantee space or a guest favor.

A special note of thanks and appreciation to the entire Syosset Baseball Association Board of Directors for their efforts, contributions and hard work of countless volunteer hours to make each year a memorable baseball experience for each and every player and family that touches Syosset Baseball.

A hearty thank you to all those parents who have volunteered their time to manage and coach the children throughout the season. It can’t happen without sponsors as their financial contribution to the league allows us to have the resources we have to bring this great game to the community. Thanks you sponsors.

Those behind-the-scenes folks, umpires, who no matter what the score and play, can’t win. The local papers Syosset-Jericho Tribune and Syosset Advance for communication to the community on our events - thank you for all you do.

Events for Syosset Baseball Association can be found on their website www.syossetbaseball.org.