Bethpage Little League: For The Love Of The Game

04/18/2014, 11:30am EDT
By Mike Stainkamp, Photo Provided By Bethpage Little League


little-league-slideshow_3__largeLately, it seems as if only the negative side of youth sports is being talked about. Whether it’s a parent erupting over a call or driving their child too hard, the negative tends to out-weigh the positive.

One of the best to ever play the game, Yogi Berra once said, “Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.”

That may be true, but Little League baseball also has a huge impact on the kids that play the game, and the Bethpage Little League is in the business of having fun and keeping kids out of trouble. Isn’t that what youth sports is really about?

“We make sure that we not only cater to travel players, we cater to everybody,” Bethpage Little League commissioner Dennis Baggia said. “We promote the sport endlessly. We make sure we have something for the kid that just likes the sport, but might not be that good at it. We make sure there is a place for that kid to play.”

Bethpage Little League is made up of three different seasons, each with a different number of kids playing. The spring teams field about 800 total players, while the summer fields 400-500, and the fall ball program fields about 900, according to Baggia.

In a time today where the professional level of baseball is money-driven, the Little Leaguers from Bethpage have old-fashioned morals instilled in them at a young age.

“Our goal is old fashioned. We believe it is important to have the kids playing sports through high school. It keeps them focused, especially boys,” Baggia added. “It keeps them from getting into trouble, so we promote baseball. We’re more than happy to help out.”

“You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.”  – Roy Campanella

In the case of the Bethpage Little League, the younger players also team up with the bigger guys on the high school level.

“The varsity coach, Rob Fisher, has been fantastic,” Baggia said. “He wants to build the program. He does a summer training camp with us and keeps the cost very, very low. The idea of the camp is to have the kids fall in love with the sport.”

In return, the league donated brand-new dugouts for the high school field and provided new clay and outfield fences for the other fields the schools use.

Baseball is a funny sport. You can fail 7-out-of-10 times, and still be considered a good ball player.

Baggia went on to say, “like Derek Jeter said, ‘it’s a game of failure.’ If kids learn how to deal with failure, it helps them later in life.

“I like the game of baseball because it’s the most American sport there is. It not only promotes teamwork, but it promotes individual accomplishments as well.”

In an effort to make the kids feel a little more “grown up”, Bethpage Little League puts the annual All-Star game in the kids’ hands.

“We have an All-Star game where the kids pick the teams, they manage it, they do the announcing and they do the field work,” Baggia said. “The parents have to stand on the side and watch.”

Bethpage Little League is one of the leagues that conducts itself in “the right way.” For more information, please go to

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: