In mid-January of 1995, I met Jeff Kussoy and Stu Eisberg in a basement room of the old Plainview Library on Old Country Road. I say “old library” simply to indicate that the meeting took place in a building that barely resembles the modern redo that stands currently in the same location.
Jeff and Stu were members of the Board of Directors of the Plainview Baseball Association. They were meeting prospective volunteers for the upcoming little league baseball season. At that time, there were well over 1,000 boys and girls enrolled year to year in the Spring intramural programs.
Jeff and Stu asked me about my background in coaching. At the time, I had none. They asked me about other volunteer work I had done. At the time, I had not done anything notable. They asked me what commitment or area of volunteering I was open to doing. I told them I’d be open to doing whatever they needed me to do.
With my son Zachary registered to participate in the upcoming season as a first-time t-ball player, Jeff and Stu assigned me to coach Zachary’s team. Truth be told, it was a pretty choice role for someone without previous youth coaching experience and few if any connections to anyone associated with the program. I think the clincher for me being chosen for the “job” was the fact that I owned my own business and could easily commit to making it to the ballfields by 5 p.m.
Jeff and Stu’s trust set me on a path with the little league that spanned a decade and propelled me to similarly rewarding volunteer work with the Plainview PAL . What it also did was give me the chance to watch up close as Zachary grew from a picking-the-daisies-in-the-outfield t-baller to his deserved selection as a participant in the 2003 majors division All-Star Game. The game was played at Washington Avenue Park, under the lights.
One too many juice boxes, and the chill of early spring evenings, would result in many of the t-ballers jumping nervously around their infield and outfield positions wondering how long they could hold in their bladder’s call to relief.
There weren’t many trees surrounding Parkway Elementary School’s ball field. There used to be a huge green metal container that would offer between-innings faux privacy for the player’s to ease their pain. Moms and dads would run the boys back and forth hoping they wouldn’t miss their turn at bat, or a prized position as their team went back out to the field.
I know what you’re thinking. How could we not have had port-a-potties at all the fields? I have no idea.
I truly miss those days and the seven springs that followed. They probably don’t serve as pleasant a memory for Zach’s younger sister Jessica. Especially when we were in the younger divisions of Little League, Audrey would schlep Jessica to the seemingly endless games and have her suffer along the sidelines through the two hour affairs. The promise of dinner at Sluggo’s on Main Event softened the “torture.”
It was a glorious time. The start of spring and little league coincided with the rebirth of the Major League Baseball season, and all the wishful anticipated success for my beloved New York Yankees. I type this week’s column with sadness and disappointment running through my pinstripe veins.
With the recently announced suspension of the NBA season, I anticipated other active major league and collegiate sports programs will follow suit.
The Major League Baseball opening day has been postponed. The coronavirus has enveloped our world. Our day to day lives have became a check and balance of acceptable risk versus reward. The prudent loss being the gathering of tens of thousands of fans at baseball stadiums across the country set to cheer on all their first place teams. Teams that from Seattle to Tampa Bay will wane in their individual contention for a World Series championship in late October.
There was such excitement as the Plainview Baseball Association’s season began in 1995. The start of that season coincided with the resumption of Major League Baseball being played after the player’s labor strike which cancelled half of 1994 season and all the playoffs and World Series for that year.
My soaped and scrubbed fingers are crossed that this year’s Plainview Little League and Major League Baseball seasons aren’t curtailed by this insidious epidemic. I wish all my readers, friends and neighbors a healthy pathway through this awful situation. I also hope to drive down Washington Avenue in the months to come and see our children participating in the Plainview Little League.