Throggs Neck Girls Softball League is in desperate need of upgrades for its field, and the man who is taking the lead has no connections to the league at all.
John Scanlon, owner of Pelham Bay Home Center, is holding a drive for to raise the $11,000 needed for a new infield for the softball league. The fundraising started with a charity softball game that raised $4,000. He currently stands at about $7,000 and hopes the second game, which will take place on Saturday, June 25, will put the sum over the top.
Scanlon, who is not a league parent, coach or a big softball fan for that matter, is simply someone who just wants to help his neighbors. He first found out about the league’s plight in early 2010, after the league representatives spoke about their all-grass, pot-hole ridden infield at a Throggs Neck Merchants Association meeting.
“They were looking for donations, and I knew that we didn’t have any funds because business has been rough,” Scanlon said. “That’s when I had the idea to have a charity softball game.”
Last year’s softball game pitted members of the Throggs Neck Merchant’s Association against the girls softball league. The middle-aged men eked out a one-run victory over the girls, aged 16 and under.
“Those girls are awesome,” Scanlon said. “One girl strike one guy out three times last year.”
The league held a card party over the winter, which raised several thousand dollars as well. Scanlon has also been taking donations at his store on Westchester Avenue. He has a hand-drawn thermometer sign on one wall to demarcate each $1,000 raised.
“He’s like an angel. This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for us,” said Rachel Mazza, president of the 36-year-old softball league.
The league plays on an all-grass infield, unheard of for most baseball and softball leagues. It also has many ruts and divots that cause ground balls to often take unpredictable bounces.
“It’s a little ridiculous right now,” Mazza said. “Since the infield is grass it attracts football players. The ball takes such crazy hops that it’s dangerous for the kids.”
The league considered re-sodding the existing field at Bicentennial Veterans’ Memorial Park, but with $11,000 it will be able to install a dirt infield.
“We play games in Westchester where the fields are beautiful,” Mazza said.
This year’s softball game will be played at Bicentennial Park. There is no minimum donation to attend, although anyone who wants to play in the game is required to pony up $100. The 16 and under team will be at a national tournament when the charity game is scheduled to take place, so the Throggs Neck merchants and donors will be facing a team of coaches.
“We’re so grateful that John is doing this,” Mazza said. “This is going to make our field safe.”