Tip of the Cap to Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League
By: Ray Gallagher
David Zaslaw and company really came through when we needed folks to come through for us.
Zaslaw’s Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League summer season ran its course last Sunday, providing thousands of kids from 8 to 18 the opportunity of a lifetime on ball fields all across the Hudson Valley, New York City and Western Connecticut. From quarantine in March to masks throughout the summer, the youth of the region desperately needed the chance to get on the field this summer, and while COVID-19 restricted the way the games were contested, Zaslaw never lost the faith.
So on behalf of the players, parents and grandparents from across the region, here’s my shout-out to Zaslaw: We couldn’t have done it without you, pal. Thank God we did because being cooped up in quarantine all summer would have spelled doom for thousands of young ball players, who, instead, made the most of what could have been a lost summer.
“As a new team in the league, we couldn’t have been happier or more fortunate to be playing in the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League,” said Paul Cotter, coach of the Mahopac 11U Wolves. “We feel like they did a great job keeping the players and families safe while enjoying the great game of baseball. It was a great thrill for the kids.”
Believe it or not, from the first games of the season – as Connecticut opened recreation in late June – to last Sunday, the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League facilitated well over 3,300 games in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Fairfield and surrounding areas for more than 400 teams.
“Initially, it was very challenging as many towns and school districts were hesitant to open their fields to our kids,” Zaslaw said, “but with a safe and responsible plan to keep kids, coaches, umpires and spectators safe, several towns opened their fields.”
Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League saved the day for kids from Somers to Red Hook and all points between. Ray Gallagher/Nikki Gallagher Photo
And the kids played baseball. A lot of baseball.
“We are so happy to be a small part of giving kids, coaches and parents a positive outlet for recreation this summer,” Zaslaw said. “We felt like we wanted to have a full summer season, so we played deeper into the summer than ever and shortened the playoff tournament to make sure the kids were able to play as many games as they wanted to.”
It was an endeavor like no other, a round-the-clock attempt to keep the flow going. Luckily, we’ve had a fairly dry summer, so postponements were few and far between. Still, it’s not easy getting more than 400 teams, coaches and umpires on the same page.
“Make no mistake, it was a round-the-clock effort,” Zaslaw said, “but with great people like Tom Kienzle, Earl Berry, Gary Colorusso and Janet Kienzle managing our fantastic fleet of umpires, and Jen Zaslaw working behind the scenes on the game schedules, results and standings, we managed to pull it together, culminating in an epic playoff tournament.”
Epic, indeed: 340 teams ripped through six days with almost 50 playoff brackets ending last Sunday.
“We have never done anything quite like it,” Zaslaw said. “We are both proud and lucky to have such great coaches and organizations that participate in the GHVBL. They make sportsmanship a priority and know that this is all about the kids.”
With hopeful guidance finally coming from King Andrew Cuomo this week regarding the resumption of varsity, junior varsity and modified sports taking place this fall under the leadership of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, the GHVBL will maintain similar standards in an effort to keep kids on the field this fall.
“We are back at it next week as we prepare for a full fall season,” Zaslaw said. “Baseball is one of the only games in town, and we will continue to work hard to give the kids a program they can be proud to be a part of.”
So, again, on behalf of the players, coaches and parents, thank you, Mr. Zaslaw. You and your team have saved the day by providing a much-needed form of regularity and exercise for our youngsters.
“Hats off to Greater Hudson Valley for successfully pulling off a very much-needed summer travel baseball season,” Putnam Valley 11U Coach Frank Weller said. “Their ability to pull together and implement such a compressive safety plan allowed kids to get back on the fields and have a small sense of normalcy during a time that’s been anything but normal!”
Don’t just take it from me. Somers 12U Coach Greg Fitts concurred, adding, “I can’t say enough about what the sport of baseball and the GHVBL has done for our boys and families this summer. During this pandemic, by getting this league up and running in a safe manner, we were able to provide our boys with a sense of normalcy. Coaching and watching these boys come to the field to work, play and compete has meant more to them, their parents and their grandparents than anyone could’ve ever realized.”
Now, if we can just get them back in their classrooms.
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