He died on this day, December 31, in 1972.
Steve Kallas explains why Clemente the ball player was one of the greatest baseball players ever.
by Steve Kallas
Today, we live in a world where many people have never seen players like Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax or Mickey Mantle actually play baseball. So now, Koufax is “overrated," as one so-called expert has said (preposterous, of course). Also, Mickey Mantle “only” hit .298 lifetime, so how good could he have really been? (One of the greatest players ever, that’s how good.) As for Roberto Clemente: he didn’t have power, so he can’t be an all-time great. Right?
Well, one needs only to look at the facts to (maybe) understand the greatness of Clemente. Surviving film clips should be reviewed, as well, to learn about Clemente, considered by a few contemporaries to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, players of all time. Yet he is considered by some modern day so-called experts to be not worthy of a mention.
As many of you know, the anniversary of the death of the great Roberto Clemente is on December 31. In 1972, Clemente was flying a rescue mission to help the victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua when his plane went down. His body was never found.
Much has been correctly written about Clemente as an incredible humanitarian who cared deeply about other people. This is necessary and fantastic to keep his legacy going. His passion, his selflessness and his willingness to “do it himself” all should be celebrated. This article, however, focuses on Clemente the ballplayer, specifically about the bad rap that he has received as a hitter who did not have enough power to be considered one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
Whenever people talk about the great talents of Hall of Famer Clemente as a ballplayer, they often come to what has been viewed as his major weakness as a ballplayer, the thing that kept him from being considered in the same class as the all-time greats. Clemente really didn’t have power, they say, he only hit 240 home runs, how can he be considered as one of the all-time greats if he didn’t hit a lot of homers?, etc. Well, a review of what some of his contemporaries thought, as well as a review of the field (Forbes Field) he played in for most of his career, will show that Clemente really did have excellent power and should not be left out of the all-time greats conversation.
“HE PLAYED IN AN AIRPORT”
This all started a number of years ago when Hall of Famer Duke Snider was on WFAN radio in New York City being interviewed by the famous duo of “Mike and the Mad Dog.” Snider was on talking about many greats, including Clemente. Clemente has always been considered a great player, except for that one fact – he didn’t have power. During the interview, one of the co-hosts said what virtually everybody has repeated through the years – that he didn’t have power, that he had only 240 career homers. Snider interrupted the interviewer and said, with surprise in his voice, “Clemente had power. HE PLAYED IN AN AIRPORT.” [Emphasis mine.]
This statement sounded surprising to this writer and others who were aware that Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, a Pittsburgh Pirate great (1946-53) right before Clemente (1955-72), had led the National League in home runs for seven consecutive years. How could Kiner, a prolific home run hitter, have done so well at Forbes Field while Clemente only managed to hit 240 homers in his career?
Well, here’s the answer to that question: In 1947, the Pirates talked legendary player Hank Greenberg into coming to Pittsburgh to play for the Pirates. According to various reports, in order to sweeten the pot for Greenberg, the Pirates decided to move the bullpens to left field. Forbes Field, a massive ballpark first used by the Pirates in 1909, was 365 feet down the left field line, 406 in left-center going out to 457 feet in deep left-center field.
Prior to the 1947 season at Forbes Field, according to baseball-statistics.com (unfortunately, a site that no longer exists as a baseball site), a “double bullpen, 30 feet wide by 200 feet long, was placed behind the left field wall – it significantly cut the distance in left field, reducing the left field line from 365 to 335 and the left-center power alley from 406 to 355 feet.” In Green Cathedrals by Philip Lowry, the dimensions of Forbes Field are listed as “Left Field, 365 (1930), 335 (1947), 365 (1954), Left Center, 406 (1942), 355 (1947), 406 (1954).”
The New York Times, in its April 19, 1947 edition, described the new “Greenberg Gardens” as a “tailor-made home run area in left field. The ‘Gardens’ are an enclosed bullpen which shortens the 365-foot distance to the left-field wall by 30 feet.”
Well, that answers a few questions.
The Gardens, re-named “Kiner’s Korner” by some (maybe the forerunner to Ralph Kiner’s post-game New York Mets show in later decades) since Greenberg retired after the 1947 season, stood at Forbes Field until Kiner, in a dispute with Branch Rickey (yes, that Branch Rickey, post-Brooklyn Dodgers), was traded during the 1953 season. According to the New York Times, Rickey tried to immediately take down the bullpen and shorter fence, but the National League ordered Rickey to leave it up until the end of the 1953 season, when it was removed.
The old, gigantic pre-1947 dimensions of Forbes Field were restored after the 1954 season (to have an understanding of how massive Forbes Field was, they stored the batting cage in left-center field ON the field DURING the games).
Of course, Roberto Clemente was a rookie for the Pittsburgh Pirates one year later in 1955.
CLEMENTE’S MINOR LEAGUE “CAREER”
Some of you know the crazy rule that existed in the 1950s. If you signed a player for more than $5,000, if that player was not put on the major-league roster for that season, he could then be drafted after a year in the minors in the “Rule 5” draft. According to the excellent Clemente biography by David Maraniss, this is what happened to Roberto Clemente.
After a glowing report from Dodger super-scout Al Campanis (interestingly, he gave Clemente an A+ for power), Clemente was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers (to keep him away from the New York Giants so they wouldn’t have Willie Mays and Clemente in the same outfield) and his bonus and contract made him someone who would have to be in the majors or subject to a draft at the end of the year. The Dodgers did the same thing a year later with a young pitcher named Sandy Koufax – but the Dodgers kept him on the major league team in 1955.
The Dodgers tried to “hide” Clemente in the minors in 1954 but many knew of his great talents. So, while Koufax was “protected,” Clemente had a one-year minor league career – only 87 games, only148 at-bats, only a .257 batting average.
The attempt to hide Clemente didn’t work and the Pirates took him with the first pick of the Rule 5 draft.
CLEMENTE’S MAJOR LEAGUE CAREER
Roberto Clemente showed up at the airport (Forbes Field) in 1955 as a very young (20), very inexperienced (148 minor league at-bats), very out of place (in Pittsburgh) player. Below is a discussion of some of the power he showed and what some of his contemporaries thought of him from a power perspective:
A coach for the Chicago Cubs in 1959, the Hall of Famer witnessed Clemente hitting a home run out of Wrigley Field on May 17, 1959 that landed on Waveland Avenue, well over 500 feet. It went out to the left of the scoreboard in center field. Hornsby said it was one of the longest home-runs he had ever seen in his 45 years in baseball.
Two Koufax stories: 1) In the excellent Clemente biography by Kal Wagenheim, Koufax said that the longest ball ever hit off him to the opposite field was “hit off me by Clemente at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1961. It was a fastball on the outside corner, and he drove it out of the park; not over the fence, but he knocked it way out.” Koufax went on to say that Clemente “could hit a PITCHOUT for a home run.”; 2) On May 31, 1964 at Forbes Field, Clemente hit a home run off Koufax 30 feet high off the light tower in center field. Koufax said he couldn’t recall anyone hitting one longer off him (from “Tales of the Tape”).
Many don’t know that the face of the Boston Red Sox was a coach for Manager Harry Walker of the Pirates for three years when Clemente played in Pittsburgh. Two Pesky stories: 1) The Wagenheim bio talks of the day (May 15, 1967) when Clemente hit three home runs and a double against Cincinnati, driving in all seven runs in an 8-7 loss. Pesky, who played with the great Ted Williams, said he had never seen such a fearful display of power in one game.; 2) According to the Maraniss bio, Pesky told writer Len Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press that the only hitter he had ever seen get solid wood on the ball time after time as much as Clemente was his [Pesky’s] friend, Ted Williams.
Walker was the manager of the Pirates in 1966. Before the season started, he went to Clemente and told him (according to the Wagenheim bio): “Roberto, I wish this year you would go for power, hit 25 homers and get 115 runs batted in. We will need it for the pennant.” Clemente went out and, in his MVP season in 1966, hit 29 home runs and drove in 119 runs (and scored 105 runs). This was staggering because it was (and remains today) the third highest home run total for a right-handed hitter in the 61-year history of Forbes Field (excluding, of course, the Greenberg Gardens years of 1947-53).
CLEMENTE v. STARGELL v. KINER
It’s obviously hard to compare, but understand a few things about this trio. Clemente only averaged about 5-6 home runs a year at Forbes Field, a place he played in for fifteen-and-a-half seasons. Willie Stargell (WILLIE STARGELL!) only averaged about 10 home runs a year at Forbes Field in the seven-and-a-half seasons he played there. Yes, Stargell was a lefty and it was just about equally hard to hit home runs for lefties (although the deepest part of the park was 457 to left center).
The Kiner comparisons are fascinating. Kiner played one year, his first, at Forbes Field when it was an airport (the year before Hank Greenberg came to Pittsburgh). In that first year (old dimensions), Kiner hit 23 home runs. Then, with the advent of Greenberg Gardens, Kiner hit 51, 40, 54, 47, 42 and 37 in his next six seasons (Kiner often credited his mentor, Hank Greenberg, with teaching him (Kiner) how to pull the ball, making him especially deadly with Greenberg Gardens in left to left-center field at Forbes Field).
This is not to detract from Ralph Kiner in any way. In fact, his 23 home runs in 1946 led the National League. But Kiner, according to The Baseball Biography Project (www.bioproj.sabr.org) , only hit eight home runs (of his 23) at Forbes Field in 1946. In 1947, with the advent of Greenberg Gardens, he hit 28 (of his 51) at Forbes Field. In his one season playing his home games in the old Forbes Field, Kiner hit 23 home runs for the season. In the next six seasons playing his home games with the much shorter left to left center field fence, Kiner AVERAGED over 45 home runs a season.
Give that a little thought when you think about Roberto Clemente.
ALL-TIME LEADING HOME RUN HITTERS AT FORBES FIELD
Without question, this is a somewhat misleading stat. But it’s presented to show the futility of trying to hit home runs at Forbes Field. The all-time list at Forbes Field, according to baseball-statistics.com, is:
1) Ralph Kiner, 175;
2) Roberto Clemente, 85;
3) Willie Stargell, 74;
4) Frank Thomas (obviously of the old Pirates and, later, Mets, not the more modern day slugger), 64;
5) Wally Westlake, 62.
Obviously, Clemente is high on the list because he played many years there, but the point here is that NOBODY could hit a lot of home runs in Forbes Field (again, except during the Greenberg Gardens years).
PIE TRAYNOR AND TRIPLES
While this quote from legendary Pirate Pie Traynor wasn’t about Clemente, it makes a further point. Dave Anderson wrote a column in the New York Times on July 11, 1970 (just before the closing of Forbes Field) discussing the fascinating point that, in the 61-year history of Forbes Field, a no-hitter was never pitched there. Anderson quoted Traynor as saying: “The reason for that is that it’s a ‘triple’ ball park, not a ‘homer’ ball park. Hitters shorten their swings.”
Fascinating stuff. On more than one occasion, Clemente told sportswriters about the absurdity of trying to hit home runs in Forbes Field. In 1964, for example, Clemente told a sportswriter that “As long as I’m in Forbes Field I can’t go for home runs; line drives, yes.”
Indeed, Clemente hit 166 triples in his career, playing home games for fifteen-and-a-half seasons in a “triple” park. Who knows how many of them would have been a home run in a “normal’ park or in Greenberg Gardens?
Interestingly, to almost prove Traynor’s point, two no-hitters (by Bob Gibson in 1971 and John Candelaria in 1976) were thrown in the Pirates’ new stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, in the first seven seasons there. Pie Traynor had a point.
With information at baseball-reference.com, a review was made of virtually every Clemente at-bat in the 1967 season. The goal was to try to get a feel for how many additional homers Clemente might have hit in Greenberg Gardens or a more “reasonable” ballpark. Not scientific, but the results are interesting.
In 1967 home games, Clemente hit approximately 18-20 fly balls that were fly outs to left or center (including sacrifice flies) or extra base hits to the outfield (mainly triples). There were eight home games for which actual at-bats were not available. An exercise in futility? Not really, because it’s just to make the additional point that Clemente had power that didn’t show up in his home run totals because of where he played in the 1950s and 1960s.
SANDY KOUFAX AND FERGUSON JENKINS
Clemente didn’t hit more than six home runs against any individual pitcher. But the two that he did hit six home runs off, Sandy Koufax and Ferguson Jenkins, are two Hall of Fame pitchers. Interestingly, he hit six off Koufax in only 107 at-bats. He hit six off Jenkins in only 94 at-bats. Both work out to 30+ homer seasons with about 500 or so at-bats.
THE 1971 WORLD SERIES
The Baltimore Orioles, big favorites to beat the Pirates, didn’t really know how to pitch to Clemente (not that anyone else did). Clemente stood far away from home plate and he would often be pitched away under the theory that he couldn’t reach the outside pitch. Of course, he had excellent power the other way and many of his blasts were to right and right-center field. But National Leaguers knew it was a waste of time to pitch him inside. Clemente once said, “Pitch me inside and I’ll hit the ball to [expletive deleted] McKeesport.”
In the ’71 World Series, Clemente’s (finally) national recognition MVP World Series, according to the Maraniss bio, the Orioles had decided to pitch Clemente inside (contrary to Gene Mauch’s (Phillies manager) Clemente Rule – “Don’t pitch him inside. He’ll kill you.”). This led to his .414 Series average.
In Game 6, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer came inside to Clemente in the first inning. He hit a triple down the left field line. In the third inning, Palmer pitched Clemente away. He hit a home run to right field. With the game tied at two in the tenth inning, Dave Cash singled but then stole second, allowing the Orioles to walk Clemente intentionally. The Orioles would win, 3-2, forcing a Game 7.
Orioles ace Mike Cuellar started Game 7 for the Orioles. Long time rivals, Clemente turned on an inside pitch and hit it 390 feet over the left field wall after Cuellar had retired the first 11 Pirates he had faced in the pivotal game. The run turned out to be the difference as the Pirates won Game 7, 2-1, and the World Series.
Clemente had at least one hit in every game and had two doubles, a triple and two home runs in the seven-game Series.
OTHER CLEMENTE MOON SHOTS
By no means all-inclusive, here is a list of other Clemente notable smashes:
1. In 1955, according to the Wagenheim bio, Clemente hit a Warren Spahn pitch OVER the scoreboard in left field at Forbes Field. The New York Times, on February 11, 1954, explained in advance what a shot this would have to be when, discussing the tear down of Greenberg Gardens, the Times wrote, “More important, however, is that instead of clearing a twelve-foot screen to land in homer territory, the hitter will now have to power his drive over the left-field scoreboard, which rises 25 feet 6 inches.” A few days after the Spahn homer, Clemente hit a 430-foot triple off Johnny Antonelli.
2. On September 8, 1958, Clemente tied a National League record by hitting three triples in one game.
3. Early in the 1960 season, Clemente went three for three against Cincinnati, with two doubles, a single and, according to the Maraniss bio, “a long sacrifice fly that would have been a home run in any other park but was hauled in by Vada Pinson near where the batting cage was stored at the 457-foot sign in deepest left-center.”
4. On May 6, 1960, at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, Clemente hit a ball pitched by Sam Jones into a terrific wind. According to the Wagenheim bio, “the shocked fans and players saw the home run ball land 450 feet away as Roberto calmly trotted around the bases.” According to “Tales of the Tape,” “Despite the wind, the ball carried into the remote bleacher area beyond the left field fence. Clemente and Ernie Banks are the only two visiting players to reach that remote area of the park (along with two Giant players).”
5. In June of 1966, according to the Wagenheim bio, during an 11-game home stand, Clemente hit .444 with 28 hits and six home runs. Two of the home runs were to deep right center in Forbes Field, landing “between the Barney Dreyfuss monument and a light tower close to the 436-foot marker.” During that home stand, according to “Tales of the Tape,” one of those home runs, hit off the Cardinal’s Al Jackson, was hit so far that Cardinal’s outfielder Curt Flood said, “I just didn’t think that anyone could hit a ball that far.”
6. On September 6, 1966, Clemente got his 2,000th hit off Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, a mammoth blast into the upper deck in right field at Forbes Field.
SO, WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
This is in no way to say that Clemente had the power of a Mantle or a Mays or an Aaron (even Clemente admitted that wasn’t true). But it is to say that Clemente had excellent power and, if he had played somewhere else (or during the time of Greenberg Gardens), his home run totals would have been much higher. As Kal Wagenheim astutely noted in his Clemente bio, “Many a home run in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cincinnati, or Philadelphia would have fallen innocuously into the left fielder’s glove at Forbes Field.” Nor could you compare Clemente’s power to that of the great Joe DiMaggio, who hit 361 homers while playing in his own airport at the old Yankee Stadium.
But Clemente had his moments (and many of them) where he showed what he could do. He understood early on that it was pure folly to try and hit home runs at Forbes Field. He stood far away from the plate; so most people pitched him away. He had stunning opposite field power for his time or any time. He played mostly in the pre-1969 high mound “pitcher’s era.”
He came to the majors before he was ready, was thrown into the deep water and survived and then thrived. The Maraniss bio lays out well the many injuries that Clemente had and played with throughout his career. Despite those, he wound up passing the great Honus Wagner for most games played by a Pittsburgh Pirate.
To sum up, any conversation about the greatest players ever is simply incomplete (and misguided) without the great Roberto Clemente’s name in the conversation. He may not be a top five player of all-time, but once you go to the bottom of the top 10, and certainly to the top 15 or 20, Roberto Clemente’s name is in the mix and on the list.
Remember, HE PLAYED IN AN AIRPORT (Thank you, Duke Snider.)
© Copyright 2019 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.
It can be challenging for parents of young athletes. Prolific author, sports commentator, and talk show host Rick Wolff discusses some issues with Steve Kallas.
By Steve Kallas
Author's Note: This interview was initially conducted for publication in the Mount Vernon Post. Thus, the first question is focused on sports Mount Vernon.
Westchester County Post's Sports Editor, Steve Kallas, was able to speak with Rick Wolff, long time host of WFAN’s “Sports Edge” radio program (Sundays from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM on 660 AM and 101.9 FM). The “Sports Edge” is the country’s longest running show focusing exclusively on the issues of kids in sports, ranging in age from youngsters just starting out through high school and into college.
Mr. Wolff, a Harvard graduate who played professional baseball in the Detroit Tigers organization and coached with the Cleveland Indians, grew up in Westchester County and graduated from Edgemont High School. For more, visit his website HERE. To find his podcast archive, click HERE.
STEVE KALLAS (SK): Rick, how familiar are you with Mount Vernon sports?
RICK WOLFF (RW): Anybody who follows sports seriously in this area knows about the legacy of Mount Vernon athletes. As a kid, I recall watching [now Yankees broadcaster] Ken Singleton hitting monster shots when he played American Legion baseball. And, of course, I always made it a point to watch the McCray brothers and all the other outstanding Mount Vernon basketball players at the County Center during playoff times.
Those were glorious times. But youth sports have changed dramatically. Parents today look at their five- or six-year olds and wonder if they have what it takes to become the next Ben Gordon or Gus Williams. To me, there are two key ingredients: the God-given talent and an irrepressible desire to succeed. You absolutely need both, whether you grow up in Mount Vernon or anywhere else.
SK: What do you think about specializing in just one sport at an early age?
RW: I’d like to think that most sports parents these days have gotten the message that specialization in one sport at an early age can lead to worries about repetitive use injuries (which derive from playing one sport all year long) to concerns about kids burning out. The best way to prevent these worries from occurring is to make sure that your young son/daughter tries and plays a variety of sports. Yes, they may gravitate to one sport as they get older in high school, but, starting out, they need to explore all kinds of sports and play them. It’s a myth to think that having your youngster focus on only one sport will somehow accelerate or boost their proficiency.
For example, in the 2019 NFL draft, more than 90 per cent of the first round draft picks played a variety of sports growing up. The great Lebron James was an All-State wide receiver in high school while, of course, playing basketball. In fact, most of today’s top athletes played a number of sports growing up as opposed to specializing in just one.
Even for individual sports like tennis, golf, swimming, gymnastics, and figure skating, it is always wise to build in plenty of breaks and vacations when your youngster can step away from those sports and just enjoy being a kid.
SK: What about the proliferation of travel teams, like AAU programs?
RW: No question that, if your son or daughter wants to pursue their potential in athletics, by the time they are 10 or 11, they will need to play for some type of travel program. Sports across America have become extremely competitive, and in order to get to the next level, they will need to start to hone their skills by facing better competition and, hopefully, receiving strong coaching. However, I do caution parents: travel programs, such as AAU basketball, do cost money. As a parent, you really need to do your homework to make sure that the travel program that your youngster plays for is well-run and has caring coaches.
Also, find out up front what kind of time and financial commitment your son or daughter is signing up for. You don’t want any surprises in the middle of the season. Find out what the cost is, how often the practices and games are, and, if the team travels to other cities, find out how often and what the expected cost is for hotels, food, gas, etc.
SK: What does “pack an extra parachute in life” mean?
RW: Grant Hill, now in the Basketball Hall of Fame, once told me that his parents told him “to always pack an extra parachute.” They meant that, while it was great for him to go out and pursue his dream in basketball, they also wanted him to have a back-up plan in life. That is, just in case his hoop dreams never got Grant beyond high school or college, or if he suffered a serious injury that cut his basketball career short, they wanted to make sure that he had other dreams to pursue in life.
In short, that was the “extra parachute.” It makes no difference what that other dream is: it could be teaching, doing computer programming, pursuing a career in medicine or nursing, whatever. Just make sure your son or daughter is not focusing on only one goal, that of playing in college or pro ball in any sport.
SK: Thanks for spending some time with us, Rick.
Rick Wolff is also a prolific author, especially on the subject of youth sports. His latest book, “Secrets of Sports Psychology Revealed: Proven Techniques to Elevate Your Performance,” is highly recommended.
Rick Wolff, prolific author and youth sports talk show host
Part 2: Pete Dichiara discusses the early part of his 2019 PBA50 Bryan Bowling Center Open victory.
Part 3: Pete Dichiara discusses the later part of his 2019 PBA50 Bryan Bowling Center Open victory and what lies ahead in his bowling career.
Actually, quite a few people care. NFL players, for example.
Retired players whose friends died in slow and painful ways.
Boxers, ice hockey players (especially the fighters!), jockeys.
A documentary film was made about CTE in the NFL: League of Denial.
Parents of kids playing football, rugby, lacrosse, soccer are worried too.
Who else should be worried?
Domestic Violence Targets. Kids getting violently bullied.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, has taken many lives
and will continue to do so until we decide to make it stop.
But are athletes and their families, teams and their fans,
and the NFL leadership ready to do what it takes?
Learn more about CTE HERE.
Well, it was. He's dead now.
(Find this graphic and more info HERE.)
CTE cannot be confirmed until the autopsy.
At this time, there are no ways to detect CTE in a live patient.
But there are symptoms, and we are learning more about what causes it. You don't need a major concussion to be at risk for CTE. A few "minor injuries" to the brain when you are young could start the CTE ball rolling.
Hear Steve Kallas discuss CTE on "Speaking of Sports" with host Janelle Allbritton, MPH, on WVOX below.
The $1 Million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway Presented by MGM Resorts, Saturday, October 12, 2019
October 10, 2019 Interview with John Campbell: International Trot • Yonkers Raceway by MGM Resorts.
Westchester County Bowling Centers Promote Bowling, Fun, and College Scholarships for Youth
By Steve Kallas
It’s that time of year again! Winter leagues for youth and adults are starting at five bowling centers aroundWestchester County. There is still time for parents who would like their children to learn to bowl, get a little exercise, make new friends, and even earn money towards college tuition.
In addition, parents should learn about the SMART account, which allows children to accumulate scholarship monies through bowling participation (in some leagues) and opportunities in tournaments throughout Westchester County and the State of New York. The funds can be used by young bowlers as payment towards college tuition. It’s an amazing program that many people simply don’t know about (for more information on the SMART account, see the article below and visit Bowl.com).
See below for information about the five bowling centers in Westchester County that run youth bowling programs. Leagues for young bowlers are forming now, so be sure to check the starting dates and, IN ALL CASES, call your local lanes for the exact requirements for your child to join a league. Even if the“starting date” has passed, your child might still be able to join.
938 Saw Mill River Road
914-969-5592 • HomefieldBowl.com
Owned and operated by the Limekiller family, Homefield offers four Saturday morning programs for youth from as young as two or three up to the age of 20 (depending on the birthday for the older youth).
The “Tiny Tots” are ages 2-5 and bowl two games for $8 per week.
The other three divisions are:
• Bantams, ages 6-10 or 11; • Juniors, ages 10-13 or 14;• Seniors, ages 14-20 (bowlers who will be 20 in 2019 must check with their respective leagues to see if they are eligible).
Children with skill levels far above the average for their age group may be placed in the next older group.
These three divisions are $15 per week for three weekly games, and a SMART account is opened for every eligible bowler in these divisions.
Jo Limekiller has run the junior bowling program at Homefield for over 40 years. She and Tom Solomine of Bowlmor White Plains Bowl are truly the “deans of youth bowling” in Westchester County, with a combined 80 years of experience and dedication. Limekiller told the Westchester County Post: “We’ve been doing this for a long time. Part of the attraction, in addition to making friends and improving as bowlers, is that, at the end of the league year, all of the Bantams, Juniors and Seniors have a check deposited in their own SMART account to start them on their way to some savings for college monies to pay tuition.”
The Juniors and Seniors leagues will begin bowling on September 14, 2019 at 8:45 AM. You can still show up at that time and join the league. The Tiny Tots and Bantams leagues will begin bowling on September 21, 2019 at 8:45 AM. You can still show up at that time and join the league.
The Bantam, Junior and Senior leagues are all named Pagliaroli Scholarship Leagues in honor of David Pagliaroli, who was a junior bowler (and a member of the Westchester County Junior Bowlers Association), who passed away in 2000 at the too young age of 18. Indeed, every February, Joette Healy of Homefield runs a tournament in honor of David Pagliaroli where $6,000 in SMART scholarship money is awarded to youth bowlers.
Bowlmor White Plains
47 Tarrytown Road
White Plains, NY
914-948-2677 • Bowlmor.com
This youth program is run by the afore-mentioned Tom Solomine. The leagues are divided into different groups depending on ability. The cost is $18 per week for three weekly games and it runs from 9:30 AM - 12 PM every Saturday. The program begins on Saturday, September 7, 2019.
Tom Solomine also runs the Junior Bowling Tournaments (JBT) of Westchester County. There is one tournament a month for seven months. The first one will take place at Bowlmor White Plains at the end of September. At the conclusion of the seven JBT tournaments, the top five bowlers receive scholarship money into their SMART accounts. In addition, there are regional tournaments in March; the New York State Finals are held in May in Syracuse, NY, and also award SMART scholarship money.
790 Yonkers Avenue
Paradise runs their “College Bound Junior Bowler” League every Saturday at 9:30 AM. The cost for three weekly games is $20 a week ($5 if absent). The 6-8 year-old beginners bowl with bumpers; the two other groups are ages 9-12 and 13 and up. Children with skill levels far above the average for their age group may be placed in the next older group.
There is also a Thanksgiving Tournament and SMART scholarship money is available.
2192 Crompond Road
Cortlandt Manor, NY
914-737-4550 • CortlandtLanes.com
Junior League costs $12 a week for three weekly games and consists of two 15-week seasons. It begins at 9:30 AM on Saturday, September 14, 2019. A breakfast buffet helps to celebrate the trophy awards at the end. Cortlandt Lanes also has a Friday After School League and a Sunday Parent/Child League.
Jefferson Valley Lanes
3699 Hill Boulevard
Jefferson Valley, NY
914-245-7770 • www.JeffersonValleyLanes.com
The youth league, which starts at 10 AM on Saturdays beginning on September 7, 2019, is divided into two age groups. The 12 and under group bowls three weekly games for $11 per week. The 13 and over group bowls four weekly games for $12 per week. Jefferson Valley also has a Sunday Adult/Child league.
In this writer’s opinion, it’s best to show up for the first week if you want to get into a league, but if you can’t, try to join as soon as you can. Some websites have more information about this issue than others, so call the lanes for the most up-to-date information. The five bowling centers have much in common with their league activities, but there are variations among them to discover to make sure you are choosing the center that is the best fit.
Bowling is a great sport, a lot of fun and, as is discussed in the box (see also Bowl.com), can provide some scholarship money to college. It’s a great opportunity for many young children and teenagers.
Saturday, September 7, 2019
Hartley Park • Mount Vernon, NY
A Westchester County Boxing Event
Championships and Exhibition
Come support local talent and rising stars!
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