After watching the poles bearing lights that illuminated their games for the last 30 years, members of the Bedford Hills-Katonah Little League organization have a new focus on raising $185,000 to replace damaged bleachers and poles for their home field in the Bedford Hills Memorial Park.
"This certainly is a substantial sum, but I am confident our community will pull together and help us restore our field of dreams," said Bill DiRago, president of the league, in a letter to members.
The league expects to have the bleachers replaced by opening day on April 28. The lights are a longer-term fundraising project, said Dave Morabito, a coach and father of two players in the league.
"Depending on the success of our fundraising efforts, we hope to have them back by next year," he said. "One of the great advantages of having lights is the ability to schedule weekday games later in the evening so folks with work obligations are able to attend evening and night games."
This season's schedule includes earlier start times and has officials concerned about their ability to play weather-related makeups and coordinate travel teams this summer.
The ball field—Joseph A. Frank Field—was created by volunteers in the 1950s and saw the installation of lights in 1984. It remains a separate entity from the town, with ongoing maintenance and repairs borne by BHKLL—current and past members—and sponsors from the community.
William Heidepriem, Bedford's parks superintendent, said he was impressed with their efforts.
"We're sympathetic to their situation—the storm damage was unfortunate and the replacement is expensive. We hope the effort goes well," he said.
Faced with the challenge, Morabito remains dedicated to the task before the fundraising committee.
"For many players some of their most memorable moments are their games played under the lights. We would like to continue to create those memories for our younger kids who haven't had that special opportunity," he said.