SCHENECTADY — Some of the city’s baseball diamonds have seen better days.
One local organization now hopes the community will step up to the plate to reignite enthusiasm for baseball culture in the city.
Members of the Schenectady Old Timers Baseball Club (SOTBC) hope an upcoming skills camp will promote the sport to a new generation of youngsters, ensuring sustainability well into the future.
The Electric City was the hotbed of baseball culture in the 1950s and 1960s, recalled Paul Moore.
Schenectady Little League won the Little League World Series in 1954, came in second in 1953, and third in 1959.
“We still talk it about at our meetings,” said Don Blaha, president of the club, which boasts 160 members, most of whom are veterans of the city’s baseball glory days.
Four current members of the baseball organization were on the 1954 team, and many more went on to success in professional leagues.
“There’s a great fondness for the sport of baseball and great memories of what we accomplished in Schenectady,” Moore said. “And there’s great sadness in these fields lying fallow and not being used.”
The baseball club will host a skills camp this summer at Central Park for 50 eligible kids between the ages of 7 and 12.
The free event will run over two days: Monday, Aug. 12 and Tuesday, Aug. 13 at Central Park’s A-Diamond.
Alex Jurcyznski, who currently serves as assistant baseball coach at Princeton University, will manage the camp, and all costs, labor, materials and equipment will be provided by sponsors.
A previous camp run by Jurcyznski in 2017 received positive reception, said organizers, who hope to boost attendance this year by 25 percent and broaden the scope of involvement from local businesses and community organizations.
SOBTC aims to hold the camp for five years. If demand this year is high enough, organizers hope for two fields next summer.
City Councilman Vince Riggi has been a strong advocate of youth baseball and ensuring city-owned fields are maintained.
He called the upcoming camp “sorely needed.”
“The timing is perfect for this,” Riggi said. “Hopefully it’ll get the ball rolling and get some interest again in youth baseball.”
Scholarships will also be provided to each young player who goes on to play in the Schenectady Little League or Babe Ruth League to cover partial registration costs.
Along with SOTBC, other sponsors include City of Schenectady, Schenectady City School District, Schenectady Little League, Schenectady Police and Fire Departments, Glenville Queen Diner, LTs Grill, OrthoNY, Schenectady PBA, Paul Moore, CapCom Credit Union, Martin, Harding and Mazzotti, Price Chopper and Stewart’s Shops.
“They love the history of the sport in the city and they love the city like we do,” Moore said. "Any effort to get people back on the fields, they’re all for it.”