In its second year, Mountain Valley Little League — pulling boys and girls from the towns of Olive, Shandaken and Woodstock — has started to catch the eye of kids now wanting to play baseball as much as they desire soccer. Or their Wiis, playstations, tablets and smart phones, for that matter.
On a recent Tuesday evening at Andy Lee Field, play got interrupted for 15 minutes during the third inning while a downpour passed through. But then it resumed, with only a few wet parents really noticing any sense of discomfort.
Woodstock little league chief, and the league’s local VP Dave Alterio, said such stamina and keep-to-itness is a sign of the league’s new holding power, as well as the inherent joys of little league play.
“We’ve got about 180 kids playing this year,” he said. “There’s a T-Ball and minors team in Shandaken, two T-Ball teams and a major and minors team each in Olive, and equal numbers of players, including some in from Hurley and a few coming over from Shandaken, playing out of Woodstock. It’s fun…”
League play started in mid-April, with some piles of snow still visible on Grant Avery and Tongore Park playing fields in Olive, Glenbrook Park in Shandaken, and both the Andy Lee and Rick Voltz fields in Woodstock. It all comes to a close, after a few more playoff games for all teams, this week and weekend. Plus a number of award ceremonies for each age group playing.
“It’s been a lot of work, with never a shortage of stuff to do. Even scheduling everyone takes more time than you’d think,” Alterio added about his first year holding local reins. “I never played regular Little League as a kid because the town I grew up in had an intramural program. It was when my son turned four and we moved here that I first got involved…”
Does it get competitive amongst the young kids still hitting baseballs off a standing rubber tee, or even the minor leagues, who end up holding playoffs and having winners’ trophies?
“Kids are inherently competitive,” Alterio says. “But our goal is always to work at teaching the game, preparing kids to move on to the majors where it definitely does get competitive.”
As a baseball parent myself, in another town’s league, its easy to see how one is always checking with coaches for scores and bristling when an opposing team seems a bit too serious about close plays, batting order, or who they have playing where. Do our kids really need to try every position, even if they’re not too good at catching or throwing? And what about that one who has never gotten a hit, or she who forgets to run between bases?
“We like to hear the kids start talking about baseball among each other,” Alterio says. “They all go to the same schools together and it becomes a big topic of conversation.”
And pride. My son recently got the “game ball” following a game where he played first base for the first time and got five outs in a row, plus two hits and an RBI. Yes, his team lost — big time. But he ate like a horse when he got home and said how next time he’s going to go for a double play, maybe a homer too.
Of course, at season’s start, he thought a home run occurred every time you ran across the plate. But that was then…
“We’ve got four minor and four majors teams, plus t-ball,” Alterio concludes. “After the season closes some of the kids go on and play all stars. And next year we’re looking to do some travel games with other leagues…”
Talk about the fun of a true American pastime…beyond screens and virtual realities.
For more on all things Mountain Valley Little League, including exact schedules for this week’s various make-up and playoff games, as well as those final celebrations where everyone gets trophies, visit https://www.oswmvll.com/.