By Hayley Tafuro
Stamford’s Middle School Baseball League was crumbling, and it was easy to see as teams began to lose interest and drop out from playing. For a sport that is considered a city-wide tradition, the future looked shaky for the younger generation who were losing key developmental years before heading on to high school.
This changed in 2011 once Stamford Babe Ruth took over the program from the Stamford Youth Foundation, in cooperation with the Stamford Public School System, and has since put middle school baseball back on the map for the town.
According to program commissioners Tom McIntosh and Chris Kuczo, once spring of 2011 rolled around, schools included Trinity Catholic Middle School and Trailblazers Academy, and many were brought back to the league. The goal to have all seven middle schools enrolled was met.
Flash forward three years later, to this past season, and that number has increased.
“After two years of incredible success, we are now finding out that other towns and schools in the area have heard that our program has improved and have shown interest in joining us,” McIntosh wrote in an email.
Now, nine schools participate in the league, including Darien Middlesex Middle School.
With a few seasons in the books and a handful of positive feedback, Babe Ruth Baseball seems to have the system down to make the experience for these middle school kids one they just couldn’t miss out on.
Here are some fast facts about the program:
• There is a maximum of 15 kids per roster who must be of Babe Ruth age (13 years old).
• The wood bat league plays a 10-game schedule that includes playoffs, but not the two-game preseason jamboree.
• Batting cages at Bobby Valentine’s Baseball Academy are made available to coaches who wish to take advantage of the facility.
• Each school gets a pullover windbreaker from the league in school colors and the school name printed on the front.
McIntosh and Kuczo have worked hard to set these aspects up for the program, as well as maintain the fundamentals that keep it up and running, such as arranging the fields, managing player registration and insurance, establishing a game schedule and much more. So far, so good for the two of them as the program exits its early stages and blossoms into a widely known, successful and fun league.
“It doesn’t matter from which league you play summer ball in, all kids play together,” McIntosh wrote. “It’s one of the only times that Babe Ruth, American Legion and AAU players can play on the same field before high school baseball. It’s great for Stamford baseball and the kids really enjoy playing for their respective schools.”
Overall, the commissioners can take pride in the fact that they helped turn the league into what it is today, while they hone the details that will help it to continuously improve. What once was a dwindling future for the Stamford program has now been restored to a bright one that the kids are truly embracing.
The Stamford Summer Baseball Report is sponsored by Mark Smith & Associates