The East Haven American Legion Baseball program opened up the season with a full day of baseball at Memorial Field Saturday. The Legion program, run by the 89er Baseball Club had its two 14 and under “Koufax” squads play back-to-back doubleheaders.
For the second year in a row, the 89er Baseball Fest saw East Haven Mayor April Capone kick off the season by throwing out the first pitch for the day’s opener, a matchup between Coach Romeo Lieto’s East Haven Koufax Blue Squad and the Hamden team Coached by Bill Rhone (and anchored by East Haven’s own Mike “The Diesel” Deangelo).
“It’s always a great pleasure to support our kids, their parents and this baseball program,” said Mayor Capone. “What could be better than four baseball games on a day like today? I wish them success for the new season.”
State Representative James Albis got the nod to throw out the first pitch in the Lieto team’s second game.
“It was an honor to throw out the first pitch,” said Albis. “As a fan of America’s pasttime, I take great joy in seeing our East Haven program afford the opportunity for our youth to stay active in such a great sport. Plus, this is probably as close as I will ever get to playing for the New York Yankees.”
The 89er Baseball Club also honored longtime groundskeeper Pat Paulsen for his dedication in keeping the fields ready to accommodate the ever-increasing load of games for the growing program.
“Pat has done an amazing job for us through the years,” said Lou Ciaramella, general manager of the American Legion program, “He has performed magic sometimes getting these fields ready for games. When you get to the park, you look out and just have to admire the beauty of the baseball field that is his finished work.”
89er President Joe Pellecia was on hand to congratulate Paulsen and to thank the crowd for helping the program grow. Under the stewardship of Pellecia and Ciaramella, East Haven’s American Legion program has seen unprecedented growth, and now field two Koufax teams, in addition to a Mantle League team and the Senior Legion team.
The afternoon matchups saw the East Haven Koufax 14 and under team coached by Ty Pter and Kevin Vineyard take on Glastonbury’s Carl Peterson and his 14 and under team.
The parents of the players at all levels of the East Haven American Legion program made a joint effort, donating time, money and raffle prizes to make the day a fun and special day. The morning games saw fresh breakfast being grilled up followed by an afternoon of hot dogs grilled to perfection.
In the end, the East Haven Koufax Blue Squad dropped both games against Hamden, 20-0 and 11-1. And the Petr Koufax squad lost both games to Glastonbury, 14-5 and 7-5.