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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

All For The Love Of The Game

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, July 28, 2005

Robert Erdeski, Christopher Horsfall, Chelsea DeGroff, Johnathan DiGennaro, and John Oliver play baseball for the Greylock "Sluggers."
View Slide Show
North Adams – Young athletes of all ages, sizes, and skill levels came together behind the Greylock Community Club on July 28 for the simple pleasure of baseball.

Four teams – the Greylock Sluggers, the UNO Neighborhood Nightmares, the Mohawk Forest Cats, and the Brayton Hill Road Dogs – played scrimmage-style ball team-to-team for the first time since teams were formed. Scores were bypassed in favor of giving each team member time at bat and in the field. The scrimmage was a preview of the first formal game scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 3 at Brayton Field. The “Nightmares” and the “Road Dogs” will vie for the first win of the Northern Berkshire Neighbors six-game series.

Many parents and siblings sat behind a chain-link fence during the scrimmage and rewarded each hit, catch, or “darn good try” with a raucous, enthusiastic mix of applause and cheers.

It's All Good


A couple of "Cats" from a Mohawk Forest baseball team.
Prior to taking the field, “Slugger” John Oliver, 14, said he was looking forward to the scrimmage and the upcoming games. Baseball, according to John, is an effective tool “to keep us out of trouble.”

“It will keep us from getting too bored with ourselves,” he said. “Baseball is a lot of fun and it’s great that we can play other teams. Some of us haven’t played very much and some of us are backyard baseball players and we play a lot. And we always have a lot of fun.”

“Cats” player Adam Demarsico, 12, said that he believes the competitions will be fun. A big benefit is that the series offers several occasions for play and “is more than a one-time thing,” he said.

Tiffany Chappell, 15, said that her father Aaron Chappell is a coach for the “Nightmares.”

“It makes me feel good that he respects the sports we want to play and that he’s a part of it,” Tiffany said.

The Pitch

Frank Kenner, a “Road Dogs” coach and a Brayton Hill resident, was the force behind the initial neighborhood group-led baseball proposal. Kenner said that he brought the idea to fellow “Road Dogs” coach Rick LaCosse, and then to Kathy Keeser of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, which launched the NBN in 1993.

“I never saw organized athletics with the [neighborhood organization] kids,” he said. “I kind of play ‘big brother’ in the neighborhood and I thought it would be good for the kids.”

A bit of pre-scrimmage "swinging"


The Hit

Keeser and leaders of other neighborhood groups agreed, and coaches from each neighborhood were recruited for the teams. The city’s Little League organization loaned most of the bats, catcher’s gear, gloves, and other equipment to the teams and donated “lots of balls,” said Keeser. The City of North Adams has agreed to let Keeser use school vans to provide transportation to and from games for the players for the cost of the vehicle fuel, and the community coalition covered the cost of team hats and shirts. Bruce Field and Al Breganti have volunteered to umpire the games.

Teams created their logos with help from coalition interns and Williams College students Amber LaFountain, Sara Kazanjian, and Lily Li, and Li drew the logo patterns. Keith Bona of Proforma printed the shirts and hats.

A Sweet Score


Tiffany Chappell said she's happy that her dad is a "Nightmares" team coach.
Team members are expected to show off their shirts and hats during the opening of a July 29 Steeplecats baseball game scheduled for 7 p.m. at Joe Wolfe Field. The teams will be introduced and escorted onto the field for the “National Anthem.” Players and coaches may watch the game free of charge, and after the game, will have an opportunity to acquire “Steeplecats” player autographs. Teams are expected to pose with “Slider,” the “Steeplecats” mascot, for a group photo prior to the game opening.

Team Spirit

The neighborhood baseball series has no league affiliation and the games are meant to be “fun games to show neighborhood spirit,” according to information provided by the coalition.

The “spirit” is already showing in the neighborhoods, Keeser said; the “Road Dogs” have assembled about 21 players that practice regularly, the “Sluggers” were honored at a 172 Greylock Ave. backyard cook-out earlier this week, and the “Nightmares” and the “Cats” have enjoyed support from residents of their neighborhoods.

“It’s all fun,” Keeser said. “Everyone is cheering them on. It’s great for the kids and for the neighborhoods. We hope to keep doing this with other sports. We’re looking into basketball, and we could do flag football, or soccer.”

"Nightmares" teammates Anthony Rodriguez,Marcus Whitman, Lexi Santiago, and Michael Chappell.


For 11-year-old “Nightmares” player Joe Perry, the games come down to one thing.

“I just love to play baseball,” he said. “It’s something my dad taught me.”

A multi-photograph “Neighborhood Baseball Summer 2005” scrimmage slideshow will be posted at www.iberkshires.com during the upcoming week.

Additional information about the baseball series or other Northern Berkshire Community Coalition programs is available at www.nbccoalition.org or by calling Keeser at 413-663-7588.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.
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