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Sponsors: Keeping the Leagues Alive!

Emma Haley
MSM Class of 2011

(4/13) The snow has lifted, the birds are singing and the Little League fields in Emmitsburg and Fairfield are just about ready for the first pitches to be thrown! The two most long awaited words will finally be heard; yes itís finally for the man in blue to yell, "PLAY BALL!"

Last month we were fortunate enough to get an inside look at those wonderful dedicated people who offer their time to coach the children we love so much. As weíve determined, the coaches play a distinctive role in both baseball and softball in our area.

Iím sure many of you know they are not alone in their efforts. Parents, teachers, and fans also have an active role in supporting the games we gather around. There is one more group of outstanding individuals who serve as the backbone to Little League baseball and softball in the Emmitsburg and Fairfield area- that special group is our sponsors.

Iíve spent the last few weeks contacting sponsors of each team Ė and let me tell you, there are plenty! Every sponsor I was able to speak with me reminded me how great it is to be in a small close knit community. Each local business or company was willing to spend a small part of their day answering my questions and giving me good insight into why they value sponsoring a team.

There was a common theme that kept occurring with each person I spoke to- they do it for the kids. It could easily be said that these sponsors give money to get their name in the community and gain some promotion, but thatís not the case. The mentality in our local area is to support and benefit others, and to keep baseball and softball alive. Itís refreshing to see how important the community is to so many.

Each sponsor understands the historical significance of the baseball culture in Emmitsburg and Fairfield. However, Mike Hillman, the editor of the Emmitsburg News-Journal and president of the Historical Society, has many insights into just how much baseball and softball in Emmitsburg and surrounding areas has impacted the culture and way of life in our very own neighborhoods.

Recalling some old articles in local news history, Hillman remembers the accounts of games between grade schools and high schools, the Mount and other local colleges. "Long before TV took us away from active participation in sports, baseball was a way of life for the people of Emmitsburg." He explained that up until the 50s the stands surrounding the ball fields in town were crowded 6 to 15 people deep with spectators. "Just about every night, starting with the first warm weather of spring to the first front of the fall, ĎPlay Ball!í could be heard in all the parks in the area."

Although some active participation may have dropped, the fan base is still extremely strong in both Emmitsburg and Fairfield. Hillman himself has noticed the remarkable enthusiasm the local area has for the leagues. "Since moving here in 1989, I've been impressed with the dedication of the league officials and team coaches who have continued this rich tradition and I've always wanted to help the league help the kids."

As dedicated to the community as Hillman is, he has never coached a little league team. When asked why, he confidently replied saying he would have respectfully been declined once people got wind that he had been cut from his seventh grade baseball team (where he played third string second baseman and second string score keeper). To make matters worse, his own father was the coach who cut him! But years later, while in the military, he got the opportunity to occasionally help his father coach his little brotherís team, and came to appreciate how much fun it was.

Little league baseball still holds a strong place in his heart. And, although he may not be the best candidate for coaching (baseball that is, word is heís a great riding coach), he realizes he has other opportunities to support the programs. "When the opportunity opened up this year to help the league financially, I took it. And in doing so, if the money gives just one kid the opportunity to dream, even if just for a moment, that they might make the big leagues, then every penny spent would be more than worth its weight in gold!"

Sponsorship and recognition of just how imperative these leagues are for the community is extremely important to Hillman, "It is my hope that the coverage this paper is giving the two leagues this year will result in increased turnout, not only for kids playing, but for spectators cheering them on, and in doing so, reenergizing the old community spirit that made Emmitsburg such a wonderful place to grow up and live."

I can only hope his attitude is contagious for others who may not have the time or talent for the sport, but have a little something extra to give in order for children in our own area to have their moment of fame! Even if all you can give is your support as a fan, I know the league would be grateful. So, members of the community, head to the garage and pull out those lawn chairs buried under the snow shovels and get to the local field to see your very own superstars shine.

I believe that Mike Hillmanís last point really speaks to the crowd when he says, "with the rising price of gas, a good league gives people every reason to say at home. Why drive to Frederick or Baltimore to watch baseball when you have the very best little league and college baseball in your very own backyard!" Who knows, you may even be the first to see the next Oís player right here in Emmitsburg or Fairfield- wouldnít that be a cool thing to say!

Along with Hillman there are many other local businesses in the area that generously sponsor a team or support the leagues by purchasing signs at the field. And, just like the coaches I interviewed last month, many of the sponsors I spoke with were unsure of how many years they had been dedicating their services to little league.

Tim Wetzel, owner of Timís Garage in Emmitsburg says he has been sponsoring for the last couple years and though, the team he sponsors has varied, he has many plaques of his winning teams hanging at the house. Tim feels strongly that baseball and softball are very valuable for the kids, because it keeps them active and out of trouble. When asked how important sponsors are for the leagues, he explained that "they keep the baseball rolling in the community, and without sponsors we wouldnít be able to create the environment we have."

His thoughts are clear; sponsors are a crucial aspect in order to maintain the Little League culture we have here in our towns. This year Tim will be using business funds to sponsor the Giants. Part of whatís great about small communities is the cycle of giving back; when you use Timís Garage for your automobile needs, youíre also supporting the community. So the next time you need to fine-tune your car, stop by Timís Garage for some great service, including mechanical work and custom exhaust work. They are the only one in the Emmitsburg area that can bend pipes, which if youíre riding to the games in an older cruiser, is very important for your vehicle!

Just down the road from Timís Garage is a great place to grab some Italian cuisine. Carleoís Pizza and owner April Martin has been sponsoring the leagues for the past two years. Martin was asked to sponsor when she became the owner of Carleoís and she is "a firm believer that kids need something to do and has always been big sports fan." Martin explained that baseball has always been her kidsí passion as she had two sons who once played baseball in Emmitsburg. She hopes to see the sport continue, and as well as continued and new sponsorship. Carleoís offers a variety of Italian dishes and run specials for both lunches and dinner. They appreciate the local community, and the business they get when people come into their restaurant. They enjoy giving back by putting their resources into sponsoring the leagues!

But sponsors of the leagues give more than monetary donations; Wayne and Sean Andrews owners of Andrew & Sons Excavating are perfect examples of this. Their company has done work on the grounds to make sure the fields are ready for play. They have put in hours of work so kids have adequate fields. They believe "sponsoring is important to keep the kids busy. Without sponsors who donate their time and money we wouldnít have things such as team sports that teach these kids how to work together for a common goal- things like baseball are where they get skills and first training for the work force." Andrew & Sons Excavating sees just how important the youth in our community are. They hope to give each youngster every opportunity to socialize in a healthy atmosphere.

The example of Wayne and Sean Andrews shows that there are many ways to help support the sport of baseball. Thanks to their company the fields will be ready for some serious action! Besides dedicating their services to prepping the field they also do work on sewers, preparation for landscaping, driveway pads, and dirt removal. Now you may need a special stain remover to get rid of the dirt that has stained your ball playerís uniform, but if you need a lot of dirt removed from either a residential or commercial location, Andrew & Sons Excavating is the company for you.

Another sponsor and former Little League player Brian Reaver of Reaverís Woodworking has been a supporter of baseball in Emmitsburg for years. Growing up playing baseball in the seventies Mr. Reaver remembers those who coached him and the generous businesses that sponsored his teams. Remembering how important they were to the league back in the day, Reaver wants to honor the league by sponsoring a team to carry on the tradition that he valued so much as a child. Reaver has seen the league grow and develop into a strong program with more divisions and hopes to see this growth continue.

He strongly encourages any business that doesnít already sponsor to get involved. "Itís great just to be a sponsor and see the joy when the players hit one. I consider all of the kids mine because Iím a part of the league. Seeing them progress makes everything worth it."

Reaverís Woodworking is your very own one stop shop for custom cabinets or other woodworking pieces. Everything built is handmade and comes according to your specifications. Next time you need something just right for you Reaverís expertise and quality care is waiting for you!

Small town companies such as Reaverís Woodworking who have been supporting the leagues for years are great examples to first time sponsors. Brian Barth who works for the Emmitsburg News Journal is in his first year of sponsoring a team. He has seen the value the sports have in the community and gives his donations to give kids a chance to succeed. Barth explained that contributions to the leagues are endless and you donít need to have a child on a team in order to help. "I do it because I enjoy the game and enjoy helping the community; there is nothing better."

Another first time sponsor is Danny Scott owner of Scottís Body Shop in Fairfield. Scottís Body Shop has over 30 years of experience in auto body repairs, paint, mechanical diagnostics, tires and other areas. Scott received a letter about sponsoring and he and his wife thought it would be a good way to show appreciation for the area they live: "We have a business in the community and we like to help out with the youth programs. I do a lot of these kids parents work and I appreciate that." I like Fairfield because it gives kids a lot of support beyond baseball. I have shadows from the local schools who are interested in body work that come down to see if they would like this career or someday would like to own their own shop." Scottís involvement in the community outside of baseball shows just how wonderful the relationships in our area truly are.

Rich Boyd is yet another example of long term support in the Emmitsburg area. Jubilee Foods has been a supporter for approximately ten years. "We feel weíre an integral part of the community and in our working with several organizations, whether churches or elementary schools, we feel weíre really part of the community- and well, weíre a great community to be a part of." Boyd is correct; we live in a great community. He continued to say, "baseball is one of the few sports that is right in our own backyard where the kids can join in wholesome fun, the league is run very well and fairly. It teaches the kids sportsmanship and teamwork, which are lessons to live by."

I thought ten years was a long time to support a team, donít get me wrong- it is! However, Bob Hance from the Carriage House has been a sponsor for twenty-five years. As an active member of many boards in Emmitsburg, Hance had some promising words about the league, "I have been supportive for 25 years and will continue to be supportive. We think itís one of the most outstanding organizations in this town. Period. The service they provide to the youth of this town is single handily the best organization for youth of this town and Fairfield." I think his thoughts speak volumes for the league, and honestly, I couldnít have said it better myself.

There are many ways to get involved in being a part of the amazing community of Emmitsburg and Fairfield baseball and softball. Just because you donít have your own business or company doesnít mean you canít get involved. The league will accept any type of donations. Stop by your local Jubilee and pick up some drinks and hot dogs for the concession stand, or supply a case of balls for the teams to practice with. These contributions all give children in the area a chance to play a sport that will instill in them lessons for life.

It is evident how deep the passions and generations for baseball and softball run in our area. Beth Wastler of Wastlerís Barbership in Fairfield grew up playing both baseball and softball in the league. She knows how important it is to have supporters and generous people to donate funds for adequate equipment and a proper field. Stop by Wastlerís small town old-fashioned barbershop to get a great trim before opening day!

Also in the Fairfield area is Kojak Graphic Communications, a full service printing and apparel company run by Joe Macharsky, who will be sponsoring the Fairfield Fury for the third year. Macharsky has kids who play in the league and thinks that, "youth athletics promote the right environment for kids to grow into young adults. They teach discipline along with self-respect and get the kids out doing some physical activity."

The link between coaches and sponsors continue, as Mike Ball of State Farm Insurance will be in his seventh year of sponsoring and coaching of the Reds. He began his business in 2000 and thought getting involved with the leagues would be a good thing to do to support youth programs. "State Farm agents are local in the community and since the local community supports our business we try to give back as much as we can. Agents around the country support local baseball teams."

Another long term supporter is Chuck Szarowski of CRS Insurance INC. He has been in the Fairfield area for 43 years, and has run his family owned and operated insurance company for 33 years. Realizing he had been involved for so long, I asked Chuck how he initially got involved in sponsoring. He told me how back in the day, a certain man came up with an idea about having bulletin boards at the fields for sponsors to hang signs (creating both promotion for the businesses and raising funding for the league). Today, weíve moved past the bulletin boards to more sophisticated methods, but Szarowski has been involved all the way through! This year, his 30th year of sponsorship, Szarowski will be supporting the Phillies. Szarowski played baseball his whole life and loves children, "It is a good activity for the youth and gives them an outlet. When my son was growing up, I coached his team which then led to the sponsoring." Oh, how the connections continue!

Unfortunately there are several members in the community who may not be able to pay the initial registration fee of $50.00. Thankfully, the league doesnít turn anyone down, but I know they would appreciate any monetary donations for this cause alone. I would hate to see an all-star athlete miss the chance to play because they couldnít afford it. Any small act of generosity is appreciated, and it can be seen in each of the youngsters eyes as they get a chance to participate in a league such as the ones we have right here in our own area.

Weíre one lucky community here in Emmitsburg and Fairfield. As the days until the first pitch is thrown grow closer, I hope we can come celebrate the long awaited season!

Emmitsburgís opening day Celebration is April 2nd. They will be holding the annual parade at 2 P.M. Join the celebration as the Color Guard, Vigilant House Co. and the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Co. will be leading the march! If you want to see how important the leagues are to the area, come to the parade to discover the recipient of the Guy McGlaughlin award, awarded to a community member for 20-30 years of volunteering services that provide the youth of Emmitsburg to play ball. Fairfield will be holding their opening day celebration on April 16th by having a parade through town. The parade will begin at 9 A.M. with the introduction of all teams, coaches, and players around the field!

While you wait for opening day of our treasured Little Leagues donít miss out on many opportunities to see some older kids throw the ball around! Thatís right, Mount St. Maryís Universityís baseball and softball programs are in full swingóliterally! Both teams play on campus and their schedules are available on mountathletics.com. Bring your youngster down to pick up some tips from the big sluggers!

So, as you enjoy the special moments that both Emmitsburg and Fairfield baseball and softball bring, make sure to remember both the people who are standing in the dugouts, but also those who silently but actively support each and every ball player in the field.

We couldnít the program we have today without our sponsors, both large and small. Next time youíre at the field enjoying the games, take a moment to think about what our sponsors have done for the community, and know that a great way to give back show your thanks and indirectly give to our community is to support their business.

Hats off to the awesome community we live in, the coaches who teach our youth life lessons through sports, and the sponsors who back everyone up in all they do!

Emma Haley is a Communications major at the Mount, and we sadly only have her for one more edition before she heads out to take on the world!

Read other articles by Emma Haley