BEDFORD, N.Y. – For the first time in 30 years, the Bedford Hills Katonah Little League will play a season with no lights. That was the reality faced last week after a contractor took down the remaining four light poles — all of which were in a weakened state from Hurricane Sandy, which had taken down the fifth pole during the storm.
The league is left with an $185,000 tab, which will also pay for new bleachers. Those were also weakened by the storm and are not safe to use.
“All is not lost. We will rebuild. Our fundraising campaign to bring back the lights is under way and has already brought in over $20,000,” said league president Bill DiRago. “We will need to raise $185,000 to replace the lights and bleachers. This certainly is a substantial sum, but I am confident our community will pull together and help us restore our field of dreams.”
Created and dedicated by volunteers in the 1950s, the field first donned lights in 1984, which were also paid for with fundraising and were installed by local volunteers. Town is not shouldering any of the expenses to repair or maintain the ballpark, so the field's livelihood will depend on fundraising and volunteering once more.
While new bleachers are on the way, installing new lights is a different animal.
“Our plan is to have the new bleachers installed by Opening Day, which is April 28,” said league Fundraising Committee member David Morabito. “Replacing the lights is a much longer process. Depending on the success of our fundraising efforts, we hope to have them back by next year.”
Those efforts are already under way, as each resident of Bedford Hills and Katonah will be receiving a donation envelope and flier this week. Those who wish to contribute can do so by returning the envelope with their donation or by visiting league's website and clicking on the donate button.
The league will also hold fundraising events.
“One of our biggest events will be the first annual BHKLL golf outing on June 17. A link to the sign up flyer is on our website,” said DiRago. “Even if you do not golf, you can still join us afterwards for the buffet dinner and silent auction. This is going to be a fun-filled day surely not to be missed.”
For now, the league will be faced with a handful of challenges as teams will not only compete against each other, but daylight as well.
“One of the great advantages of having lights is the ability to schedule weekday games later in the evening so folks with work obligations that go late into the afternoon are able to attend evening and night games,” said Morabito.
“With only one major league field this season, weekday games are beginning earlier, and only one game a day can be played per weekday. With field time stretched already, another concern is the ability to schedule makeup games due to weather.”