Kenny Pontillo, a coach at the Castle Hill Little League for the past 33 years, passed away suddenly of a heart attack on his way home from work on Friday, July 17. Pontillo had just coached his team to four straight championships in the league’s nine and ten-year-old division.
Pontillo is remembered by many of the league’s top people as a coach who had an incredible understanding of baseball fundamentals. He went out of his way by being at the field six days a week and buying extra equipment for his team, including uniforms for kids who couldn’t afford them, they said.
“He had a very easy-going temperament, and got along with all of our families, players, and the coaching staff – which includes 31 teams and over 100 adult coaches and managers,” said CHLL president Henry Pelayo. “It wasn’t about winning and losing for him, but about having the kids enjoy the game and teaching them the fundamentals.”
Pelayo said little league was Pontillo’s passion. Pontillo was an integral part of the league’s expansion, which included physical enhancements to the field – building a remote control scoreboard, press box, and underground, sunken dugouts – state of the art improvements that make the league a special place for young people to play ball.
Pelayo said Pontillo would work the concession stand, filling in when needed and was trusted so much he that he would sometimes take the money collected home after it was counted and others didn’t want to carry large amounts of cash after dark.
“He would pay for kids to go to batting cages if they couldn’t afford the fee,” said CHLL coach George Ycaza, whose son was coached by Pontillo. “He would sometimes pick them up and bring them to the park. He went out of his way to help kids, though he never had any of his own. In this day and age, there aren’t too many coaches like Kenny.”
Pontillo lived a few blocks from the ballpark, located at Gleason and Zerega avenues, and was very much a community person, friends said. Honors for Pontillo are in the works.
“Next year’s uniforms will all have a patch on them with his first name,” said fellow coach J.P. Ithier. “We are talking about having a special memorial during our trophy ceremony next September honoring Kenny, and are in talks to have a monument to his memory place next to the field in the upcoming year.”