Little League fund drive at climax
by Tom Coombe
A several-week effort to raise funds for Ely’s Little League Baseball program comes to a head this week - just in time for the Fourth of July.
Little League organizers have scheduled a “baseball bonanza” on Monday, July 3, complete with food, treats, contests, an all-star game and even a dunk tank.
The following day, Little League players will take to Ely’s streets and sidewalks during the Independence Day parade, hoping to collect money through their “Fill the Bat” campaign to pay for a new scoreboard.
More than 150 kids are participating in Ely’s Little League program this year, and the local organization is in the midst of a major fund drive to spruce up the ballpark and add more amenities - including the new scoreboard.
“We’ve got it all picked out,” said Ryan Anderson, president of the Ely Little League. “If we can get people to donate a little bit we’ll be able to get it.”
A private donor will match up to $10,000 raised by Ely’s Little League, and organizers have planned a series of fundraising events in conjunction with the July 4 holiday.
About 100 tickets at $20 each remain in a 50/50 raffle that will conclude on July 15.
Monday, meanwhile, is shaping up to be a day of family fun at the ballpark.
“We will get it going,” said Anderson. “We have Bob’s barbeque and he will donate all the proceeds and there’s a couple raffles he’s doing also.”
Helmet sundaes will be on sale at the concession stand.
A home run derby is also in the works for Monday, in an event that starts at 4 p.m.
The Little League also plans a “fastest pitch” contest, and there will be face painting as well as a dunk tank involving many of Ely’s Little League coaches.
Ely’s Little Leaguers will be divided into a pair of all-star teams for the Monday evening game.
They’ll also be in force on Monday at the parade.
“What we really need is for people to bring a dollar or two to throw in the bats so we can raise this money,” said Anderson.
In May, dozens of kids, parents and coaches took part in an annual cleanup day and recent improvements include updated electrical work, a new public address system and flag pole, and 18 tons of dirt.
The group now hopes to replace the aging scoreboard at the ballpark.
If all goes as hoped, the Little League will raise at least $10,000 from its campaign and trigger the matching contribution.
The Little League opened pay May 22 and league games run each weeknight, generally with coach pitch games at 4:45 p.m. with the majors game to follow.
Ely’s Little League tradition dates back at least to the 1950s, and games have been held at the current site since the 1960s.