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Upton Youth Baseball Makes Some Improvements

With the snow and cold weather still in abundance, it's hard to believe that baseball season is just around the corner. However, according to Upton's Youth Cal Ripken Baseball Committee member Dan Pessin, opening day will be here quicker than anyone can yell, "Play Ball!" May 1, which is also Loyalty Day, will officially mark opening day for Upton's youth baseball program this year.
At the start of this season, new players, parents, and spectators may notice a number of improvements to the VFW playing fields that include enhancements to the grounds, new fencing, and new bases. Players will also notice upgrades to some of the equipment.
The new improvements were funded through the generosity of the program's sponsors, as well as proceeds from the concession stand, also known as the Snack Shack, and registration fees. Although the price tag for the upgrades were thousands of dollars, Pessin said the Baseball Committee chose not to increase registration fees in an effort to help families who might be struggling during these tough economic times.
In addition to the fields at the VFW, the youth baseball program has been working with the town's Recreation Commission to improve the Kiwanis Field, which is used by the older players in the league.
According to Recreation Commission member Paul Pirozzi, who is also involved in the baseball program, new fencing was installed along both dug outs and a portable pitching mound was also purchased in an effort not to impact the men's and women's softball leagues, which also utilize the Kiwanis Field.
"The Recreation Commission and baseball program shared in the expenses and we are now getting much more use out of the Kiwanis facility, which now has games seven days per week, between baseball and softball," said Pirozzi. Pirozzi added that Gary Harper and John Johnson from the Parks Department have been instrumental in maintenaning the field at Kiwanis.
Another positive change to the program concerns a modification to the age rules. Previously, teams were formed based on a player's age with the cut-off date being May 1. Accordingly, some kids were playing with others younger than themselves. "This year, we went from aged-based to a grade-based program," stated Pessin.
As many as 400 players participate in the youth baseball program. As a result, parents who are interested in helping out are certainly encouraged to join the Baseball Committee.
"It's definitely a time commitment," said Pessin. "Everyone (on the Committee) wears multiple hats."
Registration is still underway for the younger players in Pre-K through third grade. Parents interested in registering their children or who would like to volunteer to help out should log onto www.uptonmabaseball.org for more information or email baseball@uptonmabaseball.org. Pessin adds that the good thing about Upton's program is that it encourages participation at all different levels; for the younger players who want to learn how the game is played and have fun to the more competitive players. "We have a lot of passionate children that really enjoy playing baseball."




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