To the Editor,
As the Sun Transcript pointed out last week, Winthrop Little League is again involved in a controversy. I hope it is time to move on, learn from the past, and build this Little League into a championship organization.
As I told Cary Shuman, I wish I had done better! I regret not following up after I said “use your own discretion” when asked if a Little League All-Star who was going to miss two games (vacation) should be replaced.
I had no idea this would be interpreted as authority to ignore the selection process adopted by the Board of Directors, I never thought they would expand the All-Star team from 12 to 14 players and not fill these vacant positions with the players receiving the most votes.
When mistakes are made I believe you acknowledge the error, apologize, learn from them, and apply the lessons to the problems at hand.
And there are problems. This year for Spring Clean-Up 10 volunteers came to prepare three fields for play. In the past, more than 40 people have volunteered.
On opening day, the A field was not ready. The score-board and public address system were inoperable, there was no water no operable bathroom facilities, the concession stand was not open. These are just a few of the problems and most are still problems.
In fact an unsafe condition in April remains an unsafe condition in July. The safety netting over the batting cage is still not in place because four volunteers willing to spend three hours could not be recruited.
Another problem is decisions too often are made by a small group, in secret, implemented, and then announced to the Board, the voting members, and the community at large. This is the core cause of this year’s All-Star selection controversy.
Unfortunately there are only about 40 voting members to guide Winthrop Little League. After 26 years I don’t exactly know how many voting members there are or who they are because the list is not generally available.
And, becoming a voting member is not easy. The final decision on who can become a voting member is made by the Board of Directors in a closed meeting. I’ve been at these meetings and you don’t need much imagination to knowhow voting membership is determined.
Little League is a community organization. Little League International in Williamsport describes it as “a community based organization”.
It strikes me that Winthrop Little League operates more like a secretive private club than it does as a community based organization in a town of 18,000 people.
I am not criticizing the current Board when I say this. In fact I respect many members of the Board of Directors such as Peter Pellegriti, Carol Silverman, Chris Cook, Steve Calla, Paul Hagan, John Lyons and others of good will and good judgment.
The problems of Winthrop Little League are not the people .What’s wrong is that the Board is tied to hidebound procedures, unclear rules, and arbitrary processes. This happens in an organization given to secretive decision making which is responsible to a handpicked voting membership reflecting a sliver of the community.
Let me be clear at this point. I do not want to be president of the Winthrop Little League. All I want to do is what I’ve always done; maintain the playing fields, help the players and managers, and promote Little League.
It strikes me that if Winthrop Little League returns to its first principle as an open, welcoming community based organization they will begin to find solutions to the problems they now can’t solve .Volunteers will become involved to prepare and maintain the playing fields, fundraising will happen again, new ideas will emerge, and energy will invigorate the organization.
Winthrop Little League should also expand voting membership and welcome parents, volunteers, sponsors, supporters, and the Winthrop community as a whole. And they should do it now.
The only criteria for voting membership should be; do you support Winthrop Little League, can you pass a C.O.R.I. check, and do you want to help. No vote should be necessary, “Hello it’s great to have you with us”, should do the trick.
Secondly, the Board should develop a clear governance statement. It should be specific and unambiguous in stating the rules, regulations, and procedures that Little League will adhere to.
Then, the Board and members should do what they expect Little League players to do … follow the rules! What they should remember, is that what is best about Little League is these players.
I’d like to thank them for being terrific young people and thank baseball for being a great game.
May God bless my friend, Jimmy.