This year marks the 50th season for the Bayport-Blue Point Little League and the celebratory feeling kicked off at opening day in April, with past league presidents being honored, is concluding this week with World Series championship play.
In 1961 there were just two ball fields, 50 players, and the starting age of players were eight or nine years old. That's about when Bob Draffin, the outgoing league president, started playing on the league fields behind Academy Street Elementary School.
Today there are 800 players, 50 teams, 100 volunteer coaches, 12 fields, a T-Ball league for the pre-K player as well as a Junior-Senior league for those up to 16 years old and a girls' softball program.
"It's been a real and total community effort," said Draffin about the league's growth and expansion over five decades. And the momentum isn't slowing.
Draffin, a Bayport resident who also heads up the Bayport Civic Association, estimates about 1,500 spectators filled the fields in the past week to watch the post-season playoffs and World Series games.Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories just like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Fast signup here.
"It is a great culmination to the season as we've really been celebrating this golden anniversary with banners on the dugouts to special uniform patches," said Draffin, who has been coaching since his on joined the pre-K T-Ball program about nine years ago. Draffin has also served on the Little League Board of Directors for five years.
He's stepping down this year so "new blood" can come in, he said, and as his son has completed his Little League playing time.
The league's success, said Draffin, is due to the intense volunteerism and community support during the past five decades.
"It's all about the kids, teaching the game and having fun and this has been a very special year," said Draffin, who'll be handing the reins to Matt McGuire, the next league president. "I'm looking forward to the league enjoying another 50 years."
But, maybe most special of all from the season is something Draffin's son, Billy, shared with his Dad a few weeks ago.
"He said, 'you know Dad one day I'm going to be Little League President,' and I just thought that was such a great thing to hear."