FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - Overcast skies did not stop Franklin Township Baseball League from Celebrating its 64th year, as it held Opening Day Ceremonies on Saturday.

"It is not sunny but it is the perfect day and you guys should have a wonderful season," Councilman James Vassanella (Ward-5) said. 

The FTBL held a special tribute in memory of Andrew Russoniello and dedicated a sign that the Russoniello family helped to design.

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Talking about his son, Christopher Russoniello said, "Dad I want Buck to pitch really well, and I want to knock the ball right out of the park. That was basically the way that he played the game. We all believe that a little bit of his spirit will be here watching you guys and cheering you on."

The FTBL will receive a few upgrades this year.  

"Happy to report the town council last year with the persistence and patients of your adult leaders and executive board we have appropriated a large sum of money so going forward, don't mind a little bit of construction happening, but going forward you will have a real bathroom facility," Vassanella said to a cheering crowd. "Not the glamorous part of baseball, but something that has been needed here for as far back as the early 70s from when I was playing on the same field as you guys are playing on."

"Basically we installed the new eight-foot fence on the minors field we are actually in construction right now, we are putting some screening over the top of the dugout for the tee-ballers, and the township just approved new restrooms for us, they appropriated about $240,000 they are going to drop in a pre-fab building," Franklin Township Baseball League (FTBL) President, Chuck Turano said to TAPinto Franklin Township. 

"I want to say thank you to all the players, all the parents, all the families, all the friends, you guys are the heart and soul of this league, especially the parents," Turano said. "You guys have to endure rain outs, practices, games, schedules things like that, we understand it is a really busy time, but we really do appreciate your support, you guys entrusting your children with us. We try to keep this complex as nice as we possibly can, you know we always need volunteers." 

Turano also encouraged the crowd to reach out to board members to give ideas to improve the program. 

When asked what baseball brings to youths, Bryan Herman whose son Jayden plays in the league said, "it helps with their development, their character it teaches teamwork. Shows them comradery and builds responsibility with showing up to practice coming to the games on time and just getting through the games no matter win or lose it, helps to really build character with each individual."

According to their website:

The Franklin Township Baseball League is run entirely by volunteers to promote, develop, and supervise youth baseball. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

We have served the growing and diverse community of Somerset NJ since 1953 and provide organized youth baseball programs for over 600 children yearly, ranging in ages from 4 thru 18. The FTBL complex, located at 51 Dekalb Street, consists of five fields (Tee-Ball, Coach Pitch, Minors, Majors, and Senior), a small clubhouse, equipment sheds, 3 batting cages, and a Snack Shack area.

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