BAYONNE, NJ - After decades of competing with each other for players, Cal Ripken League and the Bayonne Little League will combine into one baseball entity.
While some of the details of the merger will have to be worked out, Mike Miselis, president of Cal Ripken called it “exciting news.”
“It’s about time we did this,” he said.
The merger comes after about a year and a half of discussions between the two groups after they’d been contacted by Mayor Jimmy Davis encouraging them to merge.
“The mayor asked if we could put our differences aside and come together,” Miselis said. “We believe it is best for the kids and the town that we come together.”
The Bayonne Little League, which has its field on West 1st Street, started in 1951 and serves 300 or more kids each year. Cal Ripken, which has a field on East 5th street, started in 1997, serving about 400 kids annually.
“This is good for everybody,” Miselis said. “This way people do not have to make a choice between the two leagues.”
The two groups have met together about eight times, and several times with the mayor to work out the overall agreement – which they formally announced to their membership about three weeks ago, Miselis told TAPinto Bayonne.
“The mayor didn’t interfere, but he was firm and professional,” Miselis said.
For Cal Ripken, the merger answers a significant need, allowing older kids to continue with baseball after they finish the Cal Ripken program at age 12.
“We had a Babe Ruth League, but it ended a few years go,” Miselis said. “The other program has a Pony League for older kids. Our older kids either went to that program or went to a travel league. By merging the two leagues, we can keep our kids in Bayonne longer.”
While parents, kids, and volunteers in both leagues have historically been extremely loyal to their own groups, new people have joined in recent years making this merger attractive.
“There were good feelings about this from the get-go,” Miselis said. “But there was a lot to discuss and things to iron out. Our age groups are a little different than theirs, but nothing we can’t work out. We will have other things to do, but it won’t be anything drastic.”
The new entity will be called “The Bayonne Youth Baseball and Softball League,” and it has already started registration through the month of October with tryouts scheduled for early November.”
“All the teams will have to be repicked,” he said.
The number of teams depends on how many kids register, but Miselis expects the new league to accommodate more players than in the past.
In addition to offering the Pony League for older kids, Little League also has softball, which Cal Ripken did not.
“We had more teams than they did and more divisions,” he said. “But after this, the new league should have a division for each age group, and travel teams for after our season concludes in June. We are going to be using both fields.”
This will provide a wider experience for kids since Cal Ripken uses turf on its field, while The Bayonne Little League uses natural grass.
“Kids from their league will get to see what it’s like to play on turf, while our kids will play on grass,” he said.
The Bayonne City Council introduced an ordinance at its Oct. 16 meeting that would lease both fields.