The three kids front and center in the photo, Caputo and Loudis and Scirocco, are at the General Electric plant 60 years ago, holding the Little League World Championship trophy they won that year in Williamsport, Pa.
Here are the three kids, Caputo and Loudis and Scirocco, now all up in years, taking their same places for another photo with the trophy, at the same Schenectady field they played on as kids.
“The difference,” Chuck Caputo says, “is I can’t still fit in my uniform.”
They are in their 70s now, Caputo and Joe Loudis and Jackie Scirocco, part of a championship team that captured national attention for the players and Schenectady.
Sound familiar? Another squad from these parts, the Union College men’s hockey team, just did the same.
“There are a lot of national champions around here,” Tri-City ValleyCats General Manager Rick Murphy said Friday.
Murphy was in Schenectady along with staff and a small army of volunteers from throughout the region to refurbish the Schenectady Little League field, one of four in the Capital Region being rehabbed this spring by the Class A minor league team. Since 2003, the team has rebuilt 23 Little League fields in a seven-county area surrounding Troy.
“It means a lot to us,” Murphy said. “We want to continue to promote youth baseball through the ValleyCats’ mission.”
There is some altruism to the mission, as well as some self-preservation: Baseball players, the working theory goes, become and remain baseball fans.
“You have to invest in the communities in the target markets,” Murphy said. “Nowadays, if [a youth] is playing soccer, they are playing it year-round. If they are playing lacrosse, they are playing it year-round. If they are playing hockey, they are playing it year-round. We need to invest in the game.”
Rolls of sod ringed the field off Michigan Avenue. The infield was being graded, and the home plate area and pitcher’s mound awaited construction. Off to the first base side, a table featured numerous trophies won by the Schenectady Little League, including the one from all the photos.
After a formal presentation Friday, the three ex-Little Leaguers talked about that ’54 run to Williamsport, poster boards of old photos and various trophies serving as a backdrop.
“There are a lot of reminders that this team did what it did,” Scirocco said. “It always pops up.”
A hundred yards away is a section of Norwood Avenue that is proposed to be renamed Maietta Way after longtime Little League coach Mike Maietta, who skippered three teams to the Little League World Series. The Union hockey title prompted plenty of mentions to this long-ago championship squad.
And, of course, there is the 60th anniversary of the title this year. There will be a Schenectady Day at a ValleyCats game later this year. On Friday, the ValleyCats came to Schenectady, to honor players of the past, and nurture fans of the future.