South Boston Little League sticks to fundamentals during changing times

A member of the Thomas C. Foley Red Sox slides gracefully into third base and is called safe, despite the efforts of the Fire Fighters Cardinals.

A member of the Thomas C. Foley Red Sox slides gracefully into third base and is called safe, despite the efforts of the Fire Fighters Cardinals.

By Chelsea Frajerman

Diversity and inclusion give parents more reasons to love baseball season.

On an afternoon that looked promising for an opening day of little league baseball in South Boston, the wind picked up and the sun hid behind clouds, but that didn’t stop the first pitch from being thrown.

As the 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old boys and girl swung bats, rounded bases, and made spectacular plays, their faithful parents watched eagerly, satisfied with the state of South Boston’s Little League.

Tracy Connolly’s son Griffin, 11, has played for two years, and is currently the catcher for the Thomas C. Foley Red Sox.

“I love the program.  It’s good for the kids and it keeps them busy.  They even practice three nights a week,” said Connolly.

Parents agree that little league is a perfect way to keep their kids active, just like during their own childhoods.  The fact that diversity and inclusion of everyone is practiced by the league only furthers the parents’ happiness and satisfaction.

Jack Chisholm was also at the opening day game for the Red Sox to support Griffin, though he has two boys that play as well.

“It’s great, especially since lots of Southie families have moved out.  When I used to play here, there were twenty teams, and now there’s eight, so there’s not a lot of kids.  But they keep it going,” said Chisholm.

The eight teams in the league include the Chippewas Indians, Fire Fighters Cardinals, J.F. O’Brien & Sons Astros, Marr Scaffolding Mariners, Massport Orioles, Metro Energy A’s, Mt. Washington Bank Rays, and the Thomas C. Foley Red Sox.  During the regular season, which ends on June 13th, these teams will play over eighty games combined, at Moakley Park, Evans Field, and on N Street.

Erin Connolly of the Fire Fighters Cardinals catches a ball at first base during warmups.

Erin Connolly of the Fire Fighters Cardinals catches a ball at first base during warmups.

The league even allows girls to play baseball, instead of pushing them towards softball.  Erin Connolly, a member of the Fire Fighters Cardinals, has been playing little league baseball for two years.

Her mother, Kristen Connolly, isn’t worried, despite the fact that her daughter is playing on an otherwise all boys team.

“Her brother played, and now her dad’s the coach.  She chose to play baseball over softball because she’s really competitive, and it was what she wanted to do.  She also plays hockey with the boys, so they’re all friends,” said Connolly.

Standing nearby, Chisholm says that including girls isn’t the only change he’s noticed since his days of South Boston little league.

“With less of the traditional Southie families, and more of the kids from the projects being integrated, there’s a lot more diversity.  And I think that’s really great,” said Chisholm.

The diversity Chisholm is referring to is evident simply looking at the lineup of the Thomas C. Foley Red Sox.  Names on the roster include Connolly, Flaherty, and Sullivan, but also Arico and Cruz.

This diversity is also mirrored in the Patrick F. Gavin Middle School in the heart of South Boston.  In 2001, the percent of attending Caucasian students was 24.6%, while the percent of attending African American students, Hispanic students, and Asian students was 50.3%, 12.0%, and 10.9%, respectfully.

However, in 2007, the percent of attending Caucasian students was 13.8%, while the percent of attending African American students, Hispanic students, and Asian students was 53.0%, 22.9%, and 9.1%, respectfully.

The numbers say it all.  While the Asian population has decreased slightly over the years, and the African American population has only increased a bit, the dramatic changes in the Caucasian and Hispanic numbers are similar to the changes that Chisholm referred to.

The parents all agree that these changes are nothing but steps in a better direction.  Tracy Connolly truly appreciates this integration.

“They spend a lot of time with their team, learning how to work together,” said Connolly.  “It’s really a great opportunity.”

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