The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed the one big event planned for the Clifton Park Baseball 12U travel teams this summer, but the group of local players and coaches turned a once-in-a-lifetime cancellation into something memorable to stand in its place.
After fundraising for months to attend the Cooperstown Dreams Park and All-Star Village tournaments set for this summer, the events were cancelled due to COVID-19.
“It’s something they look forward to as soon as you start playing travel baseball at 8 years old,” Clifton Park 12U Green manager Jim Caldwell said. “It’s definitely something they were looking forward to, wanted to be a part of. Like everything else, it came to a stop in mid-March.”
Caldwell’s 12U Green and Craig Stanclift’s 12U White squads spent the winter months hosting fundraisers to pay for the exclusive 12-year-old experience in Cooperstown and everything included in the $1,400 per player cost.
“It includes uniforms, food, at least seven games, a whole baseball experience,” Caldwell said.
The team experience includes staying together in team clubhouses on-site, a skills competition and a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Once they postponed our [recreational baseball] season I kind of expected it to happen,” Amaar Bhusri, 13, of Clifton Park, said. “I was still sad, but I kind of had a feeling that it was going to happen.”
Just as other players who were quarantined, they worked on their skills at home.
“I would go downstairs in my basement,” Bhusri said. “I have a net, I hit off the tee sometimes.
“I would go outside and throw with my sister, who plays softball, I would throw with her to stay sharp.”
They also wanted their fundraising work to pay off.
“This is the only year that we’re allowed to fund-raise because Cooperstown is so expensive,” Caldwell said. “We had a surplus of money through corporate sponsors, coin drops, calendar raffles and football squares. to help support these efforts. Already a subscriber? Thank you!
“It wasn’t really that feasible to return all of the money, because the donations were from door-to-door or raffles.”
After several Zoom calls with players and parents, a plan was made to pay it forward.
“My team specifically gave to the Hi-Five Sports organization, special needs children that play sports like basketball and baseball,” Caldwell said. “The other is the Shen bountiful backpack program, providing meals for kids.”
“Both teams decided to pitch in some money to buy a new equipment shed where the chalk and rakes are stored. There is one now, it’s been there more than 25 years and it’s tilting, it leaks.”
Both teams combined their monies for the new $5,000 investment on the Clifton Common Baseball Upper Quad.
“I think it was smart with what they were doing, giving the money to charities and helping out the community and a new shed, which we obviously needed,” Brayden Williams, 12, of Clifton Park, said. “I think it was really nice of them to give back.”
The new equipment building is expected to be delivered in two weeks. The old one will be torn down and a plaque will be placed on its replacement to commemorate the 12U Green and White squads’ efforts this year.
“It’s going to be cool to look at it and see our names,” Bhusri said. “It’s going to be cool, like we did that!”
Reach Stan Hudy at