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Stamford Little League Returns for 2023 Season

On Sunday, April 16, at Stamford’s Scalzi Park, the Fairfield County Connecticut Jewish Baseball League (FCCJBL) celebrated its opening day 2023. FCCJBL is a Jewish community youth baseball league open to boys and girls, pre-k through grade six, living in lower Fairfield County, Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. All games are played on Sundays at fields in Stamford, Connecticut. According to their website, “We play on Sundays to allow our league’s players and families to enjoy Shabbat.” The league has a long history as a synagogue youth baseball league in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Beldotti Bakery of Stamford provided opening day refreshments.

This year’s baseball season runs from April 16-June 18. As the Stamford community continues to grow, the roster this year remained at 120 kids. While the league has the same total number of participants, the T-ball league has expanded while the Majors saw fewer registrants this season. League officials attribute this to the constant influx of new families moving to Stamford with increasing numbers of younger children.

The 2023 league has three divisions and is intended for players between the ages of 4-12. The 4- and 5-year olds will have two teams in an instructional (intro to T-Ball) division, fittingly named Matzoh Balls and Falafels. The T-Ball Minor division has four teams for kindergarteners and first graders. Their biblical team names include the Angels, Kings, Maccabees and Tribes. The oldest players currently in second-sixth grades have been designated Majors and have been given geographic team names in honor of Israel’s Judeans and Samarians.

In each of the divisions, the coaches are charged to stress the basics of the game and the spirit of being on a team. On Sunday, June 18, an award ceremony will be held after the final game. The league’s closing event will celebrate their players at a dairy luncheon, where each participant will be presented with a trophy.

“The league teaches basic skills, developing each child’s knowledge of the game, and provides the ability to hit and field,” explained League Commissioner Ari Goldstein. “The kids will have the opportunity to play with their friends and with respect. Whether they win or lose a game, they all shake hands or slam a high five when it’s over.” Goldstein emphasized that each level has a range of skills that the coaches hope to help further develop, as they teach the basic skills and the rules of the game. Goldstein began working on the 2023 season after the fall chagim. In creating the teams, Goldstein tries to group kids with their friends. The pre-k division team assignments are by full classes, while the older players’ assignments are based on each player’s skills.

Goldstein’s 10-year-old son Ezra, playing for the Judeans, stated, “I am proud of my dad for all the work that he does so that kids can come play. It is great!” Ezra described how he helps his father organize all the equipment, as well. Additionally, Ezra explained that having played in the league, “I learned that when playing second base, you have to stand far from second base.”

Hailey, Goldstein’s 6 year old daughter, expressed that she enjoys hitting the ball and states that she is “good but the league helps me learn to play better, and I am excited to play with my friends.”

Mayor Simmons noted, “Organized team sports is such a wonderful opportunity for youth in our city and it’s a great way to build confidence, self-esteem, teamwork, resiliency—and it’s just a great way to have fun with your friends.” Simmons added, “You build bonds and friendships and leadership skills. I would encourage all of you to take advantage of sports.” Prior to opening day, Simmons expressed, “I’m so honored and very much looking forward to throwing out the first pitch. I don’t know how good my pitch is going to be compared to the kids, but I’ll do my best.”

Simmons, a Yankee fan, stated that “I’m partial to lacrosse, but I love all sports. I love watching football and basketball. I love baseball.” Simmons who played lacrosse in high school and in college, described how she loved being on a team. “It was like a family and some of my closest friends are still my teammates and it’s just a great, great experience.”

To learn more about the FCCJBL, visit their website at https://fccjbl.org/

By Judy Berger

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