Tag Archives: Little League baseball

Roundup: Bank, MoCA, Chair …

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Barnes & Noble is not the only building being renovated in that part of town.

Across the street — at 1111 Post Rd East, the former TD Bank (and before that many others) — is finally being reconstructed. It’s been closed since 2018.

No word yet on what will go in there. My guess: a nail salon. Or a bank. (Hat tip: Bob Weingarten)

1111 Post Road East (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

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Go for the art. Get a discount coupon for lunch.

Joann Miller Swanson’s art show (with crafts) runs from now through 1 p.m. today, at The Porch @ Christie’s on Cross Highway.

Say hello. Buy something creative. Then stay to eat!

Joann Miller Swanson’s artwork, for sale today at The Porch @ Christie’s.

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MoCA Westport held its Family Day yesterday.

The event — a collaboration with the Westport Farmers’ Market — included the “Between the Ground and the Sky” exhibition, food and drinks, live music and nature-inspired art activities, like planting herbs in the new garden and creating reusable tote bags.

Or — as the little girl in the photo below is doin — just having fun.

(Photo/Nina Capozzi)

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Yesterday at White Field on North Compo, Ginny Jaffe saw this strange sight:

(Photo/Ginny Jaffe)

There must be a story behind this. If you know what it is, click “Comments” below.

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On Friday evening, AJ and Susan Hand were at Compo’s South Beach. Suddenly, a beautiful bald eagle flew overhead. That’s “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/AJ Hand)

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And finally … Happy Grandparents’ Day!

 

 

Now Batting: Ron Berler

Staples High School 1967 graduate Ron Berler calls his baseball history “checkered.”

Playing in Westport’s Little League, he threw an on-field tantrum when Max Shulman — the author of “Rally Round the Flag, Boys!” but, more importantly for this story, the umpire — “blew a call” (Ron’s words) on a tag play he made at third.

In later years he was cut during tryouts at both Long Lots Junior High and Staples. He joined the only team that would have him: Staples Players theater.

Ron Berler

After Northwestern University, he became a writer. The Chicago Tribune Magazine sent him to Arizona to do a “Paper Lion”-type spring training story. He suited up for the Chicago Cubs. Leo Durocher was the manager. Ernie Banks drove Ron from the team hotel to the ballpark each morning.

One day Ron lined a shot to right field, causing a rookie pitcher to be returned to the minors. But after one at-bat in the team’s first intra-squad game, Ron was handed an unconditional release from baseball.

He was, however, offered a position with the Wrigley Field grounds crew. He declined.

That was not the end of his baseball career, fortunately. For 18 years, Ron managed suburban Chicago Little League teams.

His day job included writing a weekly, youth-issues column for the Chicago Tribune. He recently reprised one of those pieces — about the unwanted pressures facing star youth athletes — for Medium. Click here to read “The Cost of Being a Little League Hero.”

As Westport youngsters return to the diamond — and all kinds of other athletic fields — it’s a tale worth heeding.

 

Little League Elbows

Today’s New York Times Magazine contains a fascinating story on the tremendous harm done to young baseball pitchers’ arms, due to overuse and under-caring.

The piece, it turns out, has a strong Westport connection.

It’s not — fortunately — about local athletes.  Westport’s youth coaches do a good job of counting pitches.

Ron Berler

Ron Berler

The connection is the writer.  Ron Berler grew up here.  A 1967 Staples grad, he was the Wall in the Staples Players’ production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  He became an actor after being cut as a sophomore during baseball tryouts — “a wise decision” on the coach’s part, he now says.

Ron did play Westport Little League — “the last time I was an All-Star in anything.”

But he’s always loved the game, and while driving to his weekly Sunday morning softball game he listens to Rick Wolff on WFAN.

Shortly after last year’s Little League World Series, the talk show host mentioned that a pitcher had thrown 288 pitches during the tournament — over just 10 days.  Ron was stunned.  He had coached youth baseball for 17 years.  A writer for Wired, Men’s Journal and ESPN.com, he “pitched” (ho ho) the Times. The result is today’s eye-opening piece.

“I hope the article will lead parents to demand changes in how youth baseball leagues are run,” Ron says.  “It’s their kids who are at risk.

“At the same time I hope Little League — which has done more than any other youth league to protect its players — does not end up shouldering all the blame.

“Yes, Little League needs to address its relaxed pitching rules during the World Series tournament.  But the real problem lies with the thousands of kids who play on multiple teams, many of them with overlapping schedules, for coaches who do not communicate with one another, and who pitch their players way too much.”

Amen.  And let’s thank all the Westport coaches who are not caught up in such craziness.

Take Me Out Of The Ballgame

Driving past the very active North Compo Little League fields recently, I flashed back to my own baseball experience, all those years ago.

I sucked.

Sorry — I didn’t mean that.  I should have said:  I really sucked.

I loved baseball.  I truly did.  I just couldn’t play it.

Despite years of experience with the cul-de-sac pastime called “running bases,” and plenty of impromptu recess games at Burr Farms Elementary, the organized version of Little League lost me.

I remember being assigned each year to Cap League teams, finally making the minors as a 12-year-old charity case.

I recall standing endlessly in right field, knowing that the rare ball that came my way would never land in my upraised glove.  (This was in the pre-contact lens, pre-pre-Lasek surgery days).

And I will never forget standing at home plate, happily trying to follow the coach’s instructions to not swing — “just get a walk.”  I was 2-foot-1, so the advice was wise.  Still, even 9-year-old pitchers managed to throw with Sandy Koufax-like accuracy against me.  I can’t recall ever making it all the way to first.

Going to Yankee Stadium was fun.  Going to the Coleytown Elementary field was not.

I still like the game, particularly because it offers such a leisurely opportunity to second-guess strategy, look ahead to the next inning, and answer email.

I’m not anti-baseball.  I’m just pro-not-playing-a-sport-I-suck-at.