The renaming of the Manhattan College baseball field at Van Cortlandt Park took a step in the right direction as Community Board 8 voted in favor of the proposed name on Tuesday.
The official tally was 29-3 with 4 abstained.
Nearly two decades after Joe Coppo’s untimely death, the community started a petition to name its home field at Van Cortlandt Park after the local baseball legend. So far, there are 267 signatures in support of the renaming effort.
Robert Walsh, senior advisor for the president of the college, who has been advocating for the name change for the past few months, said he was thrilled with the result especially after a tumultuous debate last month with the CB 8 Parks and Recreation Committee.
“I will say that coming out of the earlier meeting in May, the Parks Committee challenged us to sharpen our work, outreach and partnerships for programming,” Walsh said to the Bronx Times. “Joe Coppo’s widow Pat has been emphasizing that this is a great opportunity to build more than a green diamond with youth programs. This really resonated with many of the community board members.”
Walsh said the community board will ratify this in September and then the Parks Commissioner needs to approve it.
He noted that Borough President Ruben Diaz and Councilman Andrew Cohen have both supported the renaming.
Furthermore, the school is initiating a fundraising campaign with a goal to raise nearly $ 2 million to completely overhaul the field and add new fencing, a scoreboard, seating, dugouts and other amenities.
“We are also continuing to build partnerships in the community,” Walsh said. “I had a terrific conversation with Maureen Kelly who heads up the North Riverdale Little League about new baseball clinics, camps and other programs. The outreach will continue.”
2020 would have marked the Jaspers’ return to Van Cortlandt Park, after playing this past six years in Wappinger Falls due to the field’s poor condition. But now with COVID-19, the season has been canceled. The school is the only Division 1 team that plays in a city park
Coppo was captain of the Manhattan College baseball team, inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame and died on September 11 in the World Trade Center.
He began his collegiate baseball career with the Jaspers in 1973 and was recognized by his teammates as a power hitter, excellent pitcher and an overall good person. He was the captain of the team his senior season in 1975 and went on to coach his children’s Little League baseball and softball teams in later years.