A bake sale and car wash fundraiser for the Metropolitan Knothole Baseball League in Kingston will take place this Saturday, with players in the league eligible for a free coaching clinic. The event was organized by the Mid-Hudson Tigers’ 15U travel baseball team Coach Chris Connolly and will include participation from his players.
Connolly, who works for the Coordinated Children’s Services of the Ulster County Department of Social Services, said that he was first made aware of the Knothole League through his job.
“A kid that I work with asked me to go to his game, he told me where it was, I showed up and I saw some things I thought maybe I could help improve on as far as teaching the kids fundamentals,” Connolly said. “And then I found out that their main source of funding was their concession stand, and they recently had a fire. I wanted to put something together as a fundraiser on one hand and a baseball clinic for the league as well.”
The Metropolitan Knothole Baseball League is comprised of roughly 60 kids between the ages of 8-13, many of whom are underprivileged, some disabled.
“There are a lot of kids that can’t afford Little League or don’t have transportation to get to and from the different Little Leagues or Cal Ripken Leagues in Kingston,” Connolly said. “It’s a good thing that they have going. They’re keeping kids off the street and involved in baseball.”
Connolly said his Mid-Hudson Tigers players will be conducting much of the clinic under his direction, as he will also be busy coordinating the car wash and bake sale. He said his players have already responded by doing everything from donating baseball equipment to collecting bottles and cans to help raise money for the Knothole League. Connolly said he thinks the Tigers will get a lot out of the experience as well.
“I really wanted them to get the full experience of travel baseball, but in some ways the travel baseball system, so to speak, is broken in the sense that it’s all about winning and how many trophies we can get,” Connolly said. “I want them to get a little bit more than that out of it. I want them to experience being role models and help these younger kids that might need some help.”
Connolly said he hoped he and his Mid-Hudson Tigers players will be able to help foster a lifelong love of baseball in the Knothole League kids.
“These kids can kind of fall through the cracks in some ways if they don’t find productive avenues to do different things,” Connolly said. “There’s been a drop in inner-city participation in baseball. And as somebody who played travel baseball, who played high-level baseball in college, I made my best friends playing baseball and developed so many social skills. I knew if I wanted to play baseball I had to have good grades. It kept me on the straight and narrow path.”
Connolly said the baseball clinic will cover numerous aspects of the game of baseball.
“We’re going to do very fundamental things with these kids,” he said. “Just the basics of hitting, throwing, running the bases. And then also, which I think is just as important, is we’re going to talk about baseball etiquette and some of the nuances of the game. Don’t argue with the umpire, don’t throw your equipment, don’t fight with your teammate when he makes an error. Little things like that that kids can really benefit from.”
Connolly added that he hopes many players in the Metropolitan Knothole League will take part in the clinic.
“I’m sure we’re not going to get all of them,” he said. “But I hope we’re going to get as many as possible.”
The event, including the bake sale, car wash, and baseball clinic will be held at the Metropolitan Knothole League’s baseball field at the intersection of Clinton and Greenkill avenues on Saturday, Aug. 3 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.