Challengers come out swinging

The Challengers, now a chartered division of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League, has 30 players and 100 buddies. (Photos by Benjy Kile)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, April 22, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s Challenger Division for players with disabilities, kicked off the season with its first game at Con Ed Field.

The division has grown since being introduced last year and there are now 30 players with over 100 buddies. The division has players from ages 4-19 with developmental or physical disabilities and depending on ability, batters can hit off a tee or a ball is soft tossed.  Meanwhile, buddies, other members of the league, assist or just stay with players for support throughout the game so parents can watch their children from the stands. Little League fees, which include things like uniforms, are waived for Challengers.

The Challenger division was the idea of Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk, whose younger daughter Jamie has Down Syndrome and played Challenger ball where she used to live before the family moved to the city. Rick and his older daughter Jordan are the PSLL Challenger Division’s co-founders and co-commissioners.

Seth Coren, the PSLL’s president, recalled how when he met Rick, “The first thing he said was, ‘How come you guys don’t have a Challenger division?’ There was no reason we didn’t have it other than it was completely unfamiliar to us.”

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Challengers make their debut

On Sunday, a division of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League for kids with disabilities played its first game. (Photo courtesy of PSLL)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this spring, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League debuted a new division for disabled players, The Challengers.

The kids were recruited pretty quickly, with just enough time for them to be able to march in the league’s annual parade on April 1. Then, last Sunday, the newly formed division played its first game on Con Ed Field.

For many of the 25 players, who’ve been placed on two teams, the Angels and the Braves, it was also their first time playing baseball.

Rick Hayduk, Stuyvesant Town’s general manager who helped form the division, said because of the severity of the kids’ disabilities, they wouldn’t have been able to qualify even to play tee-ball (which is how most Little Leaguers start). The players’ conditions include varying degrees of autism, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome.

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Neighbors concerned over proposal for floodwalls by two playgrounds

Murphy's Brother's Playground (Photo courtesy of Parks NYC)

Murphy’s Brother’s Playground (Photo courtesy of Parks NYC)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents voiced their concerns about a plan to redesign two local playgrounds around a floodwall that’s part of the coastal resiliency project planned for the East Side.

They got a chance to provide input on changes for Asser Levy and Murphy’s Brothers playgrounds in a meeting last Thursday. This was the second public meeting on the subject.

Meanwhile, some residents were frustrated that the proposals from the mayor’s officer were the same as those presented at the previous meeting, held last November. Carrie Grassi, deputy director for planning at the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, explained that this meeting was primarily scheduled to give residents a second chance to provide input at a more convenient location, since some had complained the previous meeting was held too far from the actual project area. The most recent meeting was held directly adjacent to the affected area at the VA Medical Center, while the previous meeting was held at Washington Irving High School.

“We wanted to give more people the opportunity to see the presentation with fresh eyes so they were unbiased in their feedback,” she said.

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PSLL wins 3 championship titles

The 12-year-old majors division team members celebrate their championship. (Photo by Jeff Ourvan)

The 12-year-old majors division team members celebrate their championship. (Photos by Jeff Ourvan)

In an unprecedented streak of Little League World Series tournament victories, the local Peter Stuyvesant Little League (PSLL) recently brought home three Manhattan and New York City championship banners. The wins included, for the first time in PSLL’s history, a New York City championship, simultaneous Manhattan championships for the 11 and 12-year-old and 9 and 10-year-old baseball squads, and the second consecutive year in which the PSLL 9 and 10-year-old tournament team secured the Manhattan championship.

“Thanks to some very talented and dedicated players, these players’ parents, and improved coaching opportunities in PSLL, we’ve started to produce winning teams over the past three to four years,” said Jeff Ourvan, the PSLL president.

Ourvan added that winter clinics the players got to participate in the Courts at Stuy Town were “a particularly huge boost,” as was Con Edison’s support of the league’s field requests through the spring and summer.

“It really takes a large community effort to support so many kids in this way,” Ourvan said, “and we’re so grateful we can respond to that support with what’s now becoming a winning tradition.”

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Former Mets GM Bobby Valentine offers words of wisdom to PSLL

League celebrates 60th anniversary and district win

Bobby Valentine threw the first pitch of PSLL’s season on Saturday, which was caught by a mustache-wearing Alex Ramirez. Ramirez was one of several players wearing mustaches in Valentine’s honor. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Bobby Valentine threw the first pitch of PSLL’s season on Saturday, which was caught by a mustache-wearing Alex Ramirez. Ramirez was one of several players wearing mustaches in Valentine’s honor. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The cold and wind that had been accurately predicted for Saturday morning was no match for the 700-plus members of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League, many of whom celebrated the league’s 60th anniversary with a parade and ceremony.

The parade, an annual event, was attended this year by Bobby Valentine, former general manager to the Mets and Red Sox as well as a former pro player. Following a pair of bagpipers, Valentine marched with the kids, who resembled a moving rainbow in their new uniforms and colorful team banners, through Stuyvesant Town and then on to Con Ed Field.

At the field, Valentine offered the players a pep talk, telling them they should feel sorry for anyone there who wasn’t in uniform, “because if they could, they would trade places with you.”

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Former Mets GM Bobby Valentine to attend PSLL Parade on April 9

Mar31 Bobby_Valentine.jpg

Bobby Valentine

 

On April 9, Bobby Valentine, who’s managed the Mets and the Red Sox, will be attending the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s annual parade and ceremony. Valentine has also played for several teams, including the Mets, in the 1970s. He later went on to manage teams, and has also worked as a baseball analyst for ESPN. He is currently the athletic director at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The parade on April 9 will have a ceremony afterwards which also celebrates the league’s 60th year in youth sports.

Participating players and their families will line up at 8:15 a.m. at First Avenue and 20th Street in front of Hane restaurant before marching through Stuyvesant Town and heading to Con Ed Field at East 16th Street and Avenue C. The brief ceremony will be from 9-9:30 a.m.

Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade

Hundreds came out for the annual tradition, which, this time, featured a visit from former Yankees player Jeff Nelson.

Hundreds came out for the annual tradition, which, this time, featured a visit from former Yankees player Jeff Nelson. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday morning, hundreds of young athletes and their families, mainly from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, gathered for the annual Peter Stuyvesant Little League parade.

The parade, a decades-long tradition, is considered the official kickoff for a new season of local baseball, softball and teeball.

Led by a bagpiper, the PSLL procession snaked its way through Stuy Town, finally ending up at Con Ed Field on Avenue C. It was there where the kids were met by a former Major League Baseball player, Jeff Nelson.

Nelson, a relief pitcher who played for the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners before retiring in 2007, admired the turf field the PSLL uses.

“I never had this when I was growing up,” he said. The player, who grew up in Baltimore, added, “It all starts here when you want to be a Major League Baseball player. I remember I was seven when I started.”

He also thanked the league for inviting him and seemed impressed by the PSLL’s size. “It’s great to see the support from the kids and especially the parents,” he said.

Nelson then threw the first pitch of the season, which was caught by Cubs Minors player Blake Levine.

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Former Yankee Jeff Nelson will join the kids on PSLL opening day

Jeff Nelson (Photo via Wikipedia)

Jeff Nelson (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Sabina Mollot

Following a search for a former Major League Baseball player, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League announced Monday morning that Jeff Nelson, formerly of the Yankees, has been confirmed to join the kids on their opening day activities.

Nelson was the relief pitcher for the Yankees during the 1996-2000 championship seasons. He retired in 2007.

The opening day PSLL parade is scheduled for Saturday, April 18 in front of Hane restaurant at First Avenue and 20th Street at 8 a.m. From there the players will head into Stuyvesant Town, circle Stuyvesant Oval and then conclude the march at Con Ed field on Avenue C and 15th Street for a brief ceremony (around 9 a.m.).

This year, the PSLL had concerns it wouldn’t be able to have a retired pro player as a guest, which has been a tradition of the league, due to many players’ appearance fees going up.

Previous guests have included Dwight “Doc” Gooden, Keith Hernandez and Cecil Fielder.

To keep tradition alive, PSLL hoping pro players will lower appearance fee

Dwight “Doc” Gooden speaks to kids at last year’s Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Dwight “Doc” Gooden speaks to kids at last year’s Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot 

On Saturday, April 18, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League will hold its annual parade from Stuyvesant Town to Con Ed Field, a longstanding community tradition which also usually includes a visit from a well-known former baseball player.

Previous guests of honor to throw the first pitch of the season have included Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez and Cecil Fielder.

However, this year the PSLL may or may not have a pro player since, as one league parent has told T&V, many players’ appearance fees have gone through the roof, starting at twice the fees paid in recent years, plus the cost of flying them in and hotel stays. The parent noted the league has been and would continue to be willing to pay for a player’s time, but is hoping to find one willing to reduce his fee for the kiddos.

The PSLL, a nonprofit organization, has 750 members, many of whom live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Jeff Ourvan, the PSLL’s new president, said he wasn’t too worried yet though as it’s actually not uncommon for plans for a speaker to be finalized at the eleventh hour.

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PSLL gets new president

Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s new president has written a book on coaching youth baseball. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s new president has written a book on coaching youth baseball. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
The 750 members of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League have a new leader after its president for the past five years, Peter Ramos, recently decided to end his run.

The new president is Jeff Ourvan, a literary agent and nonpracticing attorney who has three sons, two of them who are current league members. Ourvan is also the author of a book called How to Coach Youth Baseball so Every Kid Wins, which was published by Skyhorse in 2012.

This week, Ourvan stopped by T&V’s West 22nd Street office (his own office is just a couple of blocks away) and discussed his goals for the league as well as the significance of Little League to the kids who participate, playing baseball, softball or tee-ball.

“Little League for boys and girls is extraordinary,” said Ourvan. “If you’re eight or nine years old, this is what you live for.”

He added that his oldest son who’s now 15 and had played in Little League, still enjoys baseball and is even hoping to get into college with a sports scholarship.
On getting kids to want to play or just keep playing as they get older, Ourvan said the trick is to get them out of their comfort zones just a little with each practice and game.

“It’s creating an environment where a child can have fun but also challenge themselves,” he said. “Anyone can play.”

He also said parents’ support is crucial. This means not just dropping their kids off at games and practice but also playing catch with them.

Goal-wise, Ourvan said one of his priorities is to get more parents involved in coaching, which, as a 10-year-veteran of the volunteer practice, he is certainly an advocate of.

“It’s amazing to coach your own kid; it’s like a rite of passage in parenthood,” he said. “It’s fun to be on the field again giving support. And coaches have families and we work so we’re flexible.”

Ourvan has been on the board of the PSLL for the past five years, and on his moving up to president, he admits it wasn’t a hotly contested battle.
“Nobody wants the job,” he said. But he was also quick to note that the league is a relatively well-oiled machine with many parents eager to help out whether it’s by being in charge of concessions or handling the league’s insurance. There are also around 200 coaches.

“The league opened my eyes to the community of Manhattan,” said Ourvan, who lives in Murray Hill. “There’s so much of a family community feeling that I don’t think we noticed before we had a family. For parents, (little league) is a social opportunity and it’s fun.”

Another goal for this year is to keep older kids from leaving the league which tends to happen once players hit high school age. At that point, they’ll sometimes prefer to play on travel teams with their schools. However, Ourvan said he hopes they’ll stick around as coaches or umpires.

“A lot of these kids have younger brothers and sisters still in the league,” he said. “So we want to be able to retain some of those kids.”

The third of Ourvan’s goals for the league is to get it more competitive. Two seasons ago, the PSLL won a district title and he’s hoping for a state championship in 2015. He’s confident about player improvement since some of the league members will have an edge they didn’t have before, which is pre-season practice time at the newly tented Playground 11 in Stuyvesant Town. The spacious, heated tent, which has been branded by CWCapital as “The Courts at Stuy Town” opened recently and is currently housing a few winter sports programs.

Before its opening, management had approached the league to see if its members would be interested in a baseball clinic there, and Ourvan said they agreed without hesitation. While there is a fee for participants to cover the cost of pro coaches and some new equipment, the PSLL is not being charged for the space by CW. The clinic began on December 5, with around 160 kids showing up, and it will run through March.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for us,” Ourvan said, explaining that due to the cold winters in New York, it can be difficult for local kids to compete with Little Leaguers in other states like California or Florida who have more time outdoors. “To now have the extra months is going to be a huge help for our league.”

That said, he made sure to add it’s not about winning titles or games, but seeing kids improve and develop confidence. He recalled how last year one of his son’s teams had been struggling all season only to end up coming close to winning a big game.

“They almost made it to the finals and they were crying that they didn’t win,” said Ourvan. “They believed they were going to win. It ultimately was an amazing victory because they did their best and if you do your best you win.”

The 2015 season of Little League begins in April and registration for the Peter Stuyvesant Little League opened on Wednesday. Registration currently costs $175 per player and $150 for additional siblings. After January 10, the cost goes up to $200 per player and $175 for siblings, and can be done online at psll.org.

Throwback Thursday: This week in T&V history

1964 Little League champs

1964 Little League champs

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a couple of snapshots from the June 18, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

Met Life’s battle over pet dog
Dogs weren’t allowed in the complex in 1964 and as a result, a Stuyvesant Town family found themselves in a court battle with property owner Metropolitan Life over their pooch. A cover story in the June 18 issue said that the dog was a 15-pound French poodle and had been living at 16 Stuyvesant Oval with the family for the past eight months. The story noted that it wasn’t Met Life’s intention to evict the tenants but to evict the dog, and it went on to say that the pooch’s owner, a lawyer by the name of Murray Leonard, intended to represent her in court.

The owner based his case on recent court decisions that held in similar circumstances that residents could house a dog if it could be proven that the canine was not a nuisance to others. The Leonards had been living in Stuyvesant Town since 1948 and Leonard’s wife said that the dog was a gift and it was not their intention to purposely violate their lease.

Alleged Nazi found guilty of rioting
A police blotter item in this 1964 issue of the paper noted that a Peter Cooper Village resident was found guilty of inciting a riot in connection with a civil rights demonstration the previous July. The story said that PCV resident Anthony Wells, 23, who was an alleged member of the neo-Nazi National Resistance Party, was one of eight men accused of seeking to incite violence against black people who were demonstrating at a White Castle diner in the Bronx. Police found a cross-bow, guns and knives in the alleged Nazi’s station wagon.

PSLL team champs
Members of the Peter Cooper-Stuyvesant Little League team, the First Federal Savings & Loan Indians, gathered at home plate after beating the Village & Towne Sweet Shoppe Cubs and being named the World Series champions in a close game the previous Saturday.

Letter to the Editor, June 12

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Gashouse Gang requests your presence

Re: “Remembering another Gashouse Gang,” letter, T&V, June 5, by Richard Kronish

Dear Richard Kronish,

I also enjoyed the T&V’s article on our PSLL Junior team Gashouse Gang (May 29). It was timely, locally relevant, and best of all about youth baseball.

Reading your letter I sensed it stirred your passion for the game as well. Anybody who can recall the St. Louis Cardinal team who won the 1934 World Series nicknamed “The Gashouse Gang” it is huge baseball fan in my book.

With that said, my team would like you to invite you to come sit on our bench and help coach the team for one game.

The game we have in mind is: Monday, June 16th 5:30 p.m. at Con Ed Field Avenue C and 16th Street. It is our final game of the regular season vs. the Lightning, our interleague rival.

Hope to see you at the game!

Tim McCann
Manager
Gashouse Gang