FCCJBL in the News

May 4, 2006 - Stamford Advocate
Having a good time
Jewish Baseball League puts the emphasis on 'play' 
by Lauren Klein, Special Correspondent

Courtesy: Stamford Advocate

STAMFORD -- On opening day of the Fairfield County Connecticut Jewish Baseball League on Sunday, there was as much rivalry on the bench as on the field.

As 13-year-old Yishai Walk watched his teammates bat on the baseball diamond behind Newfield Elementary School, he told other players on the bench that he is a Boston Red Sox fan.

Michael Liesman, 8, a New York Yankees fan, overheard.

"You're a Red Sox fan?" Michael said. "I'm ashamed."

Michael and Yishai, students at Bi-Cultural Day School in Stamford, were among 110 youths, ages 3 to 13, who came out for opening day of the Jewish league.

"It's not as competitive as the city Little League, and there is a low-grade commitment for parents and kids," said Seth Marlowe, the commissioner. "It just gets them outside, in touch with baseball and having a good time."

The Jewish league, which plays games on Sundays, developed out of the Stamford Synagogue Baseball League, which was formed so Jewish children who observe Shabbat could participate in a baseball league.

City Little Leagues play Friday evenings and Saturdays, when observant Jewish families take a day of rest and put aside many activities.

Though it was formed to accommodate observant Jews, non-Jewish families are welcome, Marlowe said.

"They don't have to be superstars," said Marti Fischer of Weston, a mother of two players in the Jewish league. "They just have to come out with a good attitude."

Fischer's son, Jack, 14, runs track and practices karate but would not be able to play on a baseball team if it weren't for the league, she said. For her daughter, Katherine, 11, who plays baseball at school four times a week, the Sunday games are another chance to get on the field.

Sharon Lewis, a member of Agudath Sholom in Stamford, said her family observes Shabbat, so the Jewish league was the only way her 13-year-old son could play organized baseball.

"This allows my son to play baseball without compromising his religious beliefs," Lewis said.

She said she likes the league's relaxed attitude.

"This is what I grew up with. You show up and play because it's just nice to be outside and have fun," Lewis said. "That's the way it should be."

The Jewish league has expanded to include other towns in Fairfield County and Westchester County, N.Y.,, and 11 synagogues, she said. That allows children and parents from throughout the area to meet, she said.

Yishai said the more players, the better.

"It feels more like a real Little League," he said.

For the next six weeks, the league will play at Newfield.

"The kids have tons of homework and study hard during the week," said Paul Liesman, Michael's father. "This is the exact thing they need to be doing."

Sarah Marlowe, 12, pitches during the Fairfield County Connecticut Jewish Baseball League's opening day Sunday at Newfield Elementary School in Stamford.   (Chris Preovolos/Staff photo)

Though on opposing teams, Yishai Walk, 13, left, and Coby Greif, 13, talk on the same bench Sunday during a Fairfield County Connecticut Jewish Baseball  League game at Newfield Elementary School in Stamford.  (Chris Preovolos/Staff photo)

The F.D. Rich team's outfield converges on a ground ball during its game.  (Chris Preovolos/Staff photo)

Copyright 2006, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

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