GLOVERSVILLE - Little League enthusiasts Mike Hauser and David Karpinski are trying to keep the memories of local youth baseball and softball alive.
In that vein, they helped organize an exhibit at the Fulton County Museum to capture some of those memories.
The "History of Gloversville Little League & Parkhurst Field" is the current featured exhibit at the museum at 237 Kingsboro Ave.
From left, Dave Karpinski, Gloversville Little League vice president, Mike Hauser, president, and Mark Pollack, Fulton County Museum president, look at former Little League President James Lauria’s Board of Directors jacket at the museum in Gloversville on Friday. The history of the local Little League is the newest featured display at the museum.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
The first-floor display, cooperatively curated by museum Director Mark Pollack and Gloversville Little League President Hauser and Vice President Karpinski, will be shown through October. Admission is free.
Newspaper clippings, baseballs, trophies, plaques and other items offer a visual timeline of how the Little League park has changed over the last few decades.
The exhibit includes a jacket worn by a coach, T-shirts and uniforms. The exhibit focuses on community, families in the city and examples of the glory days of summer over the last 50 years.
"There's a lot to see, a lot to learn," Pollack said.
The exhibit features Parkhurst Field, which covers seven acres or playing fields on Harrison Street.
In 1954, the Parkhurst family allowed Little League baseball to be played on the property, and games have been played there ever since.
The exhibit makes the connection between the Gloversville of then and now.
"It's not only a history of Gloversville Little League, but the history of Gloversville Little League and the park because they go hand in hand," said Karpinski.
The playing of baseball in Fulton County dates back to 1898, when early in their professional careers, baseball players pitchers Cy Young and Chief Bender and shortstop Honus Wagner played at JAG Park - the acronym representing the major railway line linking Johnstown, Amsterdam and Gloversville. Parkhurst Field sits on that site today.
Karpinski and Hauser chronicled Little League baseball in Gloversville. Hauser said the research took about two years to complete.
As a Dec. 7, 1954, newspaper article notes, the city's Rotary Club voted to sponsor from four to eight Little League teams in Gloversville. The meeting took place at the Hotel Kingsborough on South Main Street. Joseph Giblin was named chairman of the city's Little League association. Other residents on the organizing committee included Lawrence Getman, James DelNegro and John Klein. An application for a charter was sent to the National Association of Little League Baseball. A requirement also included construction of an enclosed baseball diamond. Future details would focus on local business sponsorship, equipment and the site of the diamond.
The land that would be used as the home playing field was owned by the Parkhurst family. Opening day at Parkhurst Field was May 19, 1959.
Nearly 60 years ago, William Kratky laid out the playing fields, Hauser said.
"He maximized every square inch of the property," he said.
To honor Kratky's dedication and service, the clubhouse was renamed Saturday in a ceremony. The clubhouse will now be known as the William Kratky Clubhouse.
Parkhurst's land could have been developed for other uses. That it was donated for use as playing fields is significant, explained Hauser and Karpinski.
This was done "just out of the goodness of their hearts," said Karpinski of the Parkhursts.
In 1992, a capital campaign resulted in the $50,000 purchase by the Gloversville Little League of Parkhurst Field.
Now, said Hauser and Karpinski, 20 years after that fundraising milestone, it is time to set new goals and projects to lead the organization into the future.
"We want to leave a legacy for the next 50 years," said Karpinski.
"Connect with the past, influence their future" is the motto of the Gloversville Little League. In 2014, the league will mark its 60th anniversary.
Interest in these diamond-based sports continues to grow. In 2011, 420 boys and girls played baseball, softball or T-ball at that same location, up from 300 youngsters playing in 2010.
Today, the Little League is raising money for a capital campaign. The league wants to raise about $75,000 to install lights at the field. Among other plans: upgrading the fields for increased player safety, fine tuning a central public address system and improving the safety fencing and dugouts on the new John Walrath Field.
The museum offers other exhibits about baseball. Against a wall and in a row of display cases are memorabilia from the semi-professional and professional baseball programs that had local ties.
For more information about the Little League exhibit and other information, including hours of operation, call the museum at 725-2203.