Sunday, April 18, was opening day for the Fairfield County Connecticut Jewish Baseball League (FCCJBL), after last year’s cancelled season due to COVID restrictions. Stamford Mayor David R. Martin was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“This baseball season will be all the more special, as we return to see our friends and family. Of course, things will be a little different this year. We still have to wear our masks and keep our distance, but we know we can enjoy the beautiful weather and our warm community while staying safe outdoors,” stated Martin. “Stamford’s Jewish Baseball League is another special opportunity to watch our children grow and see the people we have missed for so long during this difficult year. After spending an unprecedented amount of time apart, and as we all get vaccinated to put this pandemic behind us, I look forward to seeing Stamford’s community come together. Stay safe.”
This year’s season is 10 games long and will run from April through June. There are 115 kids, between the ages of 4-12, playing this year. Three divisions make up the league: Pre-k for the 4-5 year olds, T-ball for kindergarteners and first graders, and minors for the second to sixth graders. In each of the divisions, the coaches stress the basics of the game and the spirit of being on a team. Due to the large increase in registration, there will be four teams per division this year. The gourmet pre-k division teams are Rugelach, Matzah Balls, Latkes and Falafels. The biblical t-ball division includes the Angels, Kings, Maccabees and Tribes. The geographic minor division includes the Golan, Judea, Negev and Samaria teams.
League commissioner Ari Goldstein explained, “People were very disappointed that we had to cancel baseball last year. It was my decision to open this year. Our local numbers of cases have always been pretty good, and schools haven’t closed at all.” Goldstein added it’s going to be spring; they will be playing outdoors and following a code of safety guidelines. The league consulted with community doctors and will follow the rules of the local Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy. “Some of the doctors are also on the Bi-Cultural COVID Advisory Board. We asked for advice on what we needed to do: hand sanitizer, wearing masks, etc. Since all the kids in the league attend Bi-Cultural, if any kid has symptoms or tests positive, the school is going to know about it first.”
“We purchased more equipment this year, since we have many more kids and COVID restrictions,” Goldstein revealed. “Everyone has to bring their own glove and water bottle. They are asked to use hand sanitizer for shared equipment. When kids are in the field or they don’t need to be near each other, you know we’re going to ask them to stand six feet apart from each other.”
Goldstein wasn’t surprised with the high registration, “We saw 30-40 young families move to Stamford over the past year and a half; we saw a high influx from New York City. People were living in apartments and wanted to get out into suburban areas, especially families with young kids. So, I wasn’t surprised that we’re going to get a lot of sign-ups, but, in a way, I was, because people here have been very COVID conscious.”
Each year, the league plans a Memorial Day barbecue. “Obviously, it is going to be a little different, with servers wearing gloves and masks; maybe they’ll spread it out a little bit more,” Goldstein noted. Since the shuls and schools have restored outdoor eating events, he has confidence that the BBQ can proceed. Goldstein added, “At the end of the year, we will have an award ceremony to hand out trophies and medals to recognize the kids and coaches.”
With the opening pitch thrown by the mayor, a strike right down the middle, FCCJBL baseball was back.
By Judy Berger