SPOTSWOOD, NJ – Cooperstown, New York is a special place for young and young at heart baseball players and fans. This Empire State village is of course home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and attracts baseball-loving tourists from all walks of life. In 2020, a Spotswood Youth Baseball and Softball travel team that has played together since the boys were seven years old will be heading to Cooperstown for a "Field of Dreams" baseball adventure.
“Cooperstown is one of the largest youth baseball tournaments in the country attracting teams from almost every state in the country,” SYBSL manager Matt Saracino explained. “Most towns have been sending teams annually for many years now and continue to send a team every year. You do not have to qualify to play. It is an open tournament for 12 year old teams. Spotswood has never sent a team there before and I asked myself, why not us? So I approached the team and parents and our league and everyone was on board to give the kid's an experience of a lifetime.”
Saracino coached the league’s U10 travel baseball team to a division title this past season and has managed the boys for the past four years. The former Spotswood High School graduate played baseball for the Chargers and also played in college. Like his players, he’s never experienced a Cooperstown tournament in person.
“I know a lot of friends that have and they all rave about the experience,” Saracino said.
The boys on the U10 travel team have been together for the last four seasons as have the parents and families. They all consider themselves to be an extended family, sharing many memories on and off the field.
“We are blessed to have great kids and families that support us in everything we do,” Saracino continued. “We typically have more fans at away games than the home team!”
The boys as well as their families are looking forward to the entire Cooperstown tournament experience, which includes an opening ceremony, skills competition, closing ceremony, a baseball tournament played in Dreams Park, a championship game, closing ceremony fireworks and rings. All of the players will also be inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.
Finding out the team is headed to Cooperstown in the summer of 2020 was just icing on the cake for the players who won the 2018 USABL Spring Travel Season Championship. They also claimed the 2017 USABL Thanksgiving Turkey Leg Tournament this past fall.
For Saracino, the 11-3 season held a few other memorable moments including the semifinal game against Milltown. Spotswood and Milltown both attend Spotswood High School meaning many of the players in the game will eventually become Charger classmates and teammates.
“They are a great team and we knew it would be a tough game,” Saracino said of the Spotswood/Milltown semi-final match up. “A lot of them know each other it always makes for a fun game.”
The end-of-the-season party took on a special flavor after winning the championship and of course there was the news the team would be headed to Cooperstown two summers from now to add to the excitement.
Cooperstown also means a great deal of fundraising for the families as they prepare for the tournament with team dad, Dan Lennan at the helm.
“Spotswood being such a small town is very fortunate to have such a great group of kids and coaches that are committed to the game and are in it for the long haul,” Spotswood Youth Baseball and Softball League President Matt Bolger said. “We are very proud of them. On behalf of The SYBSL Board of Executives, we would like to wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. I know I’ll be there cheering them on in Cooperstown. Go Spotswood!!”
The current members of the U10 travel team headed to Cooperstown come the summer of 2020 are Stephen Barnacz, William Buchan, Hunter Krainski, Shawn Lennan, John Lubin, Andrew Newhard, Joey O'Halloran, Mikey Palumbo, Gavin Romeo and Sebastian Saracino.