SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga/Wilton Youth Baseball’s season has commenced! Opening day was Saturday, April 21, at Gavin Park and Saratoga Eastside Recreation. Five-hundred families came out to enjoy a day of friendly competition on both fields. Joe Rigabar, board president as of this season, kicked off the opening day ceremony with a reminder, “develop your love of the game and most importantly, have fun.” Before the games started and after the opening ceremony, which was also attended by Mayor Meg Kelly and Saratoga Springs varsity baseball coach Andy Cuthbertson, along with some of his varsity players, the league had a small competition.
“We took two kids from each division and had a little relay race around the bases. We had 500 kids screaming and yelling and cheering for these little t-ball kids. Some of the high school kids were there recording it on their phones and having a good laugh about it, it was really cool,” Rigabar explained.
The league has close to 50 teams divided into four divisions: t-ball, rookie, minors, and majors, ages 4-12 Rigabar coaches his oldest son’s minors team, and has done so for a number of years. The league is set-up to be selfcontained, meaning all teams play each other, sorted by division. It is $25 to play t-ball, $50 for rookie, and $90 for the minors and majors. Costs stay low due to community and local business support.
“We had an incredible year of raising money through amazing sponsors. This year, we had the Glens Falls Hospital and Hoffman’s Car Wash donate two new scoreboards each, so four total. We also have field sponsors, dug out sponsors, and team sponsors, where the name of their firm is on the jerseys. That’s really what allows us to do what we do and keep the costs down for all the kids and the families,” Rigabar explained.
Games are twice a week on Saturday and a mid-week game. Teams rotate between Gavin Park and Eastside Rec so the kids have a chance to play at both fields and break up the monotony.
“The families have been really supportive of the rotating fields. Initially, last year when we merged, there was some concern about living closer to one than the other but now that the families see how much the kids enjoy it and how much it adds to the experience, they’ve been very supportive of it,” he said.
The league merged last year for a number of reasons: “Number 1, there’s no reason we should have a bunch of separate leagues in the community. The westside still has Saratoga National Little League, although we are trying to convince them to join us. Number two, the number of kids in each distinctive league were starting to wane a little bit, so you’d have maybe only four teams in the majors division in Wilton for example. Then you’re playing the same kids and same teams all the time. It just made sense for us to come together and be one big happy family and now we have several teams. It just creates a better experience for the kids overall,” he said.
“The league is growing, which is our goal. It’s all about providing opportunity for as many kids as possible to play baseball and our numbers are up across the board, in terms of number of kids, number of teams, and number of sponsorships, so the health of the league is better than its ever been. Most importantly, we had a beautiful day where we had 500 families on the baseball field having a good time, and for us that’s really what it’s all about,” Rigabar concluded.