CILL pays tribute to former president

City Island Little League celebrated its opening day with hot dogs and soda and honored the man who led the organization for the past eight years. Former league president Bob Whalen, a parent who has been involved with the league for two decades, was honored during the opening ceremony at Anthony Ambrosini Field on Saturday, April 17. Whalen’s wife Anna and daughter Brianna accepted the award in his behalf.

“Bob worked tirelessly to help make sure that our league was on fine financial footing,” said CILL vice-president Larry Sauliner. “He was down here when the field was being rebuilt to make sure that the contractors were doing the right thing.”

Sauliner said that Whalen respected all children regardless of their playing ability, and would not hesitate being late for his next commitment to help a young player who was struggling and in need of his guidance. The league’s new president, John Tomsen, also spoke highly of Whalen. Whalen was considered a jack-of-all trades around the league. Besides being president, he also served as treasurer, vice-president, field-manager, coach, and carpenter.

Congressman Joseph Crowley sent a representative to opening day who gave remarks, and Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Councilman James Vacca all spoke.

“In the development of young boys and girls, team sports, working for a common end, is so important,” Benedetto said in his remarks.

Benedetto told the children that after they were done eating hot dogs and playing their games, at the end of the day, he hoped that they would thank their parents and coaches for helping them play in a fine league.

According to league treasurer George Spenser, while CILL could always use more children, the Ambrosini Field is being well used.

“It is a small community, but we manage to field four teams in the majors, three in the minors, and have about 60 kids in our instructional program,” Spenser said. “In addition, we play host to St. Mary’s Star of the Sea’s CYO softball teams. Nine teams use the field.”

Anthony Ambrosini Field, rehabilitated three years ago with money from the Croton Water Filtration Mitigation Funds, pays tribute to its namesake, a long-time coach at CILL. Ambrosini was known to many players he coached as “Ambro.” He also formed the City Island Giants football team and coached basketball at Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea Church. Abrosini’s wife Catherine attended this year’s opening day.

Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or

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