Time Out: August 13, 2014
By John Bernhardt
In another day, in another time, in another era, baseball was king. In community after community across Delaware County, nearly everyone played. Locally, there was a time in Margaretville when a youth baseball House League swelled to well beyond 100 kids.
Times change. Demographics shift. New passions erupt. Soccer exploded on the local sports scene, stretching its influence from autumn through spring. Over time, like a slowly leaking faucet, local interest in baseball eroded until in recent years only traces of the grand old game remained.
When the pendulum reaches the end point in one direction, it slowly changes course and begins to move back over recently covered ground. What goes around comes around. Perhaps that’s the case in Margaretville where, for the first time in most folks’ working memories, two Little League teams shared the diamond this summer.
The need to add a second team came about as the result of enrollment numbers that surged beyond 20 during signups this spring. As is often the case when dynamics shift, many times one person often drives the push for change. In this case that person was Dennis Herrera, a dad with a son and daughter who were eager to play baseball.
Needed another squad
“It was great to see so many kids who wanted to play baseball. But, I was afraid one team with so many kids would mean lots of those kids with little chance to play. As important as it is for kids to sign up is how many kids continue to play,” explained Herrera.
Herrera’s efforts to expand Margaretville’s Little League baseball horizon got a big boost from Steve Tanzer, a former local Little League coach.
“Steve was great. I couldn’t have done this without him. I had no idea how much was involved. Steve got me through all the registration paperwork. He explained the do’s and don’ts, he helped with the uniforms, and he was a great umpire,” noted Herrera.
With no budget and no equipment, Herrera quickly learned that when it comes to providing opportunities for children, in small towns like Margaretville, you can count on people to step up to the plate. Help in the form of financial contributions arrived from the Cheese Barrel, Freshtown, Wadler Bros., Del-Sports, Titan Drilling and Brookside Hardware. Before he knew it, Herrera had the kids and the tools needed to make a second Little League team a reality.
At the same time three dedicated coaches, Head Coach Terry Johnson and his capable assistants, Meg Balcom and Lanore Miller, were going about the hard work and preparation that comes with building the Margaretville Little League brand with 17 novice baseball learners on the original baseball roster.
That roster was sprinkled with youngsters who had never played baseball, so Johnson and his assistants kept a laser-like focus on the fundamentals of the game.
“We had some kids who had never put a baseball glove on their hand. We had some kids who were very frightened standing in the batter’s box when a pitch arrived, kids who bailed out on every pitch. It was amazing to watch how far these kids came,” noted Johnson.
Although Margaretville fielded two Little League teams this summer, the teams shared common goals. Johnson and Herrera both spoke emphatically about the emphasis on sportsmanship and fundamentals. Both spoke with pride about how their baseball learners practiced hard and played hard. And, both spoke with hope that the baseball Little League efforts this summer can spark some renewed interest on the local level for America’s grand old game.
Team members this summer included: Margaretville A: Coach Terry Johnson and players Justin Johnson, Billy Miller, Madison Storey, Antonia Falco, Audrey VanBlarcom, Joey VanBlarcom, Page Credaroli, Michael Gavette, Brandon Odell, Damian Brewer, Connor Joedicke, Shaina Aubry, Ryan Oravetz, Tyler Stake, Taylor Stake and Cody Wayman.
Margaretville B: Coach Dennis Herrera and players Ivan Herrera, Netalia Herrera, Casey Schultis, Shiana Balcom, Kerry Johnson, Kevin Johnson, Olivia Cordero, Junior Cordero, Diago Sanchez, McKenna Buerge, Alex Fronckowiak and Anthony Fronckowiak.