The West Side Little League’s Juniors baseball team — the Hawks — gave us something to root for last summer. The 13- and 14-year-old players, from all corners of the Upper West Side, won the New York Juniors State Championship. This year’s NEW Juniors are looking to equal or exceed that record after their first win last Monday night. Note: Little League play is divided into “tournaments” by age groups, ranging from ages nine to 16. Only those between the ages of 12 to 16, compete in the Little League World Series, which follows the States and Regionals. West Side Little League President Debbie Kling attended the NEW Juniors first game, and sent this report.
By Debbie Kling
Just like the swallows that yearly return to Capistrano, a majestic hawk knew where it had to be last Monday night — on the 103rd Street baseball field in Riverside Park to cheer on its namesake team, the West Side Little League’s Juniors Hawks, in their first game of the Manhattan and Bronx Little League District 23 Tournament.
Perched on a high branch of a towering tree behind the backstop, our hawk-eyed mascot had the best seat in the house for the contest between historic rivals, Harlem Little League and West Side Little League.
It was a well-played contest that went seven innings, including a 20-minute rain delay. The West Side Hawks won the game by a score of 10-4, coached by volunteer parent-coaches Brian Shaw, Erick Santiago and Bill O’Brien. They hope to follow in the footsteps of last year’s Juniors Hawks team which won the District and Sectional titles and went on to capture the New York State Juniors Little League Championship.
Down in the bleachers, Harlem’s longtime coach and board member, Sheila de Castro, and I hugged and swapped Little League stories. Friendly rivals, we both go way back with our respective leagues and have met many times at similar contests.
Meanwhile, the hawk soared over the ballfield to get a birds-eye view of the action, before returning to its premium skybox seat. With West Side’s feathered friend and lucky winged talisman watching over us, it’s going to be an amazing season!
Go Hawks! Go West Side!
For more information about West Side Little League and the full schedule of West Side Tournament games for all our teams (10 and under, 11 and under, and Juniors), click here.
Note that all games are subject to weather and field conditions and the schedule is regularly updated based on them.