Sunday, December 21, 2014

Funds raised at Brewers game to help rebuild Little League field in Oriskany

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Fans packed into Murnane Field in Utica Tuesday night to watch the Utica Brewers game. Many of them were there to help raise money to rebuild the Oriskany Little League Field, which was badly damaged by flood waters.

"One great thing about all these people in the community, they always seem to show up and step up when they need to," said Fred Burrows, one of the coaches in the league.

The field was badly damaged during the Flood of 2013, on June 28th, when the Oriskany Creek jumped its bank. "It's right on the crick and it floods every year so it happens every year," said Shawn Cassevah, a baseball player for Oriskany who is going into 10th grade this year. Cassevah was at the game with some friends and said he hoped it was a good turnout for the fundraiser.

"The flood waters went over the top of the outfield fences..took down almost all of our fence," said Burrows. The dugouts were wiped out and the concession stand was knocked off it's foundation.

Some of the younger players from the league described the damage they saw when they went to the field after the flood waters receded. "Everything was broken," said Aolani Roberts.

"It looked like a thunderstorm," said Jason Roberts.

"The whole road was flooded so you couldn't even get to the little league field," said Ethan Juarez, an Oriskany Baseball Player. "Like a week later we went... it was destroyed."

Admission for the game was $4, half of that is going to the fund. $20 tickets were available in the upper decks with food and beverages, $8 from each of those tickets are going to support the cause.

"They lost everything," said Bill Vinci, who works in marketing for the Utica Brewers. Vinci has been helping to coach Oriskany Little League and has gotten to know the parents and kids in the league. He suggested a fundraising night with the Brewers and league officials thought it was a great idea. "They are starting from ground zero and I thought this would be a good way to get everything going for them."

By 7 o'clock $1200 was raised and the night was still young. There were also raffles going on at the game. The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown donated some items and the Utica Brewers autographed some goods to raffle off.

The money raised Tuesday night is not going to cover the entire cost of repairing the field but it's at least a strong start. Officials estimate it will take between $50,000 and $75,000 to bring the field back to it's original state. All of the work will be done by volunteers throughout the community.

Both the players and the coaches are looking forward to next season.

"It's fun because you get to do stuff with your friends," said Aolani Roberts.

"I like hitting the ball," said Jason Roberts.

"My favorite part is hanging out with my friends," said Patrick Roberts. "Being on the same team, hitting the ball, pitching the ball. Everything about it."

All of the work may not be complete by next season but they will at least have a field to play on.

"We may not have a concession stand or all of the amenities that everybody likes to have but we'll have what we need to have one way or the other," said Burrows. "We will figure it out so the kids can play ball."

A fund has been set up so anyone wanting to make a donation can do so. Checks can be made out to the "Oriskany Little League Fund" P.O. Box 518, Oriskany, New York 13424.

"If we don't raise the money than our little league field would never exist," said Patrick Roberts, age 9.

"For such a small little town the community is unbelievable," said Vinci. "They are trying to get this back together. It's really neat to see that."