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Webutuck Little League’s first season, ‘A time to play… to learn’

AMENIA — There’s no doubt that the Harlem Valley loves baseball, which is why those living in Amenia and Millerton are grateful their children can play ball thanks to the Webutuck Little League program. Players prepared themselves for an exciting season of America’s favorite pastime at the league’s Opening Day on Saturday, April 23.

Comprised of ballplayers from both Amenia and Millerton, the idea for the Webutuck Little League sparked this February when Millerton Youth Baseball representatives discussed combining the Amenia Baseball and Millerton Youth Baseball programs into one with the Amenia Recreation Board.

By March, the resulting program was sanctioned as an official Little League team. On Thursday, April 7, the Amenia Town Board signed a service agreement with the Webutuck Little League to provide a 2022 baseball season for children in the region.

Originally scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, the Webutuck Little League’s inaugural Opening Day ceremony was postponed until 4 p.m. due to last-minute game schedule changes.

Providing its players time on the field, Amiee Duncan, treasurer of the Amenia Baseball program who is also involved with the Webutuck program, said the new Little League’s Major team had an away game at Taconic at 11 a.m., while its two Minor teams scrimmaged at Beekman Park in Amenia at 1 p.m.

The league’s Farm and T-Ball teams came to Beekman Park later that day to gather their uniforms and partake in practice.

Gathering at Beekman Park to celebrate the creation of the new Little League team and the start of the 2022 baseball season, families turned their attention to the American flag while local resident Cassandra Whitehead gave a stirring performance of the National Anthem.

With the ceremony underway, Webutuck Little League Coaches DJ Reilly and John Lamb, former MLB player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, led players through the Little League Player Pledge and then administered the Little League Parent Pledge to the parents.

Offering words of encouragement for the coming season to the teams, Lamb reminded parents of the work the players will be putting in and said they’ll keep improving as the season advances.

“Give them a chance — do not expect perfection,” Lamb said, “let them live their dream… allow them to be children, allow them to make mistakes.”

Having extended his appreciation to all the sponsors, donors and individuals who made Opening Day and the Little League possible, Lamb delivered the ceremonial pitch. Winding back his arm, he threw the ball toward home plate where a player squatted with his glove open to receive the ball from a pro.

With 74 children ages of 3 and 12 registered, Webutuck Little League players took a bunch of team photos at home plate in an exuberant mass of green uniforms. Once they were cleared to go, they raced off the field toward the park pavilion where food was being served.

“I think it’s great after the pandemic,” Reilly said of the program’s inception, “and I think the parents are so happy to have them outside playing — just to have the game of baseball, fair play, win or lose, to have fun.”

“There’s a time to play and win,” Lamb said. “This is a time to play the sport, to learn.”

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