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Searching for the next Babe Ruth

AMENIA — Every Saturday morning the town’s recreation baseball fields are filled with the pitter-patter of little cleats running the bases, the crack of metal bats connecting with leather balls and the excited encouragement echoing over the fields from the sidelines.

Amenia’s Farm League is back in business, with the first games played at the end of April. This year 153 children signed up, according to league manager Pete Clair, who has been running the league for the last 13 years. That means plenty of teams and plenty of action for future high school stars.

In the Farm League, there are four teams of 9- to 12-year-olds (Little League-aged), three teams of 7- and 8-year-olds, four teams of 4- and 6-year-olds and two teams of Tiny Tots, where the 3- and 4-year-olds battle it out. For the first time this year, there is a girls softball team with 20 girls ready to play as well.

Enrollment isn’t limited to Amenia residents; Millerton, Dover and Millbrook all have athletes on the teams. There is a significant turnout from Millerton, which Clair said is probably because Millerton hasn’t had a program in some time. This year Allen Lazarus has put together a squad, but parents might not have found out about the team in time.

“A lot of kids are playing up here because they don’t think there’s a Millerton team,” Clair said, adding that they were working to get the news out in time for next season about the Millerton team.

At practice, Clair rotates his players through four stations to work on their throwing, hitting, fielding and catching.

“You gotta mix it up and keep kids interested,” he said. “We’re trying to get kids to learn the basics.”

No word on whether there’s a future major-leaguer among the pack, but the children are having fun, and Clair says that’s what counts.

The Amenia Farm League season will run until June 20. Clair said he appreciates all the help from coaches and parents.

“Without them, we couldn’t be doing this.”

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