Naugy’s connection to Williamsport and the Little League World Series

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
Long before the Wide World of Sports program shined its spotlight on the Little League World Series, the town of Naugatuck had its own piece of history etched out by Ralph Stotz on Scott Street, the site of the Peter J. Foley complex built in 1949.
It was 10 years earlier that Ralph’s brother, Carl Stotz, began the formation of an institution that came about in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in Williamsport, Pa., the birthplace of Little League baseball.
Today, a contingent of Naugatuck baseball fans make the annual trek to Williamsport as sort of a pilgrimage to a game that has been entrenched in the town’s history.
Ken and Jen Stone have been making the sojourn to the Little League World Series for over a decade now, having brought all three of their sons, Justin, Blake and Logan to this fabled land of the diamond in the rough.
“The first year we came in 2013, Westport had a player named Stone and wore No. 5 like our son JD,” said Ken Stone. “Back in the day when Bob Dibble was president of Foley, and Paul D’Agnone talked to me and Jen about bringing the boys out to Williamsport. They took their kids out there when they were younger.
“After that first time we were hooked and have made it back every year since. There are about 10-15 Naugy fans that come out every year and some years we have had close to 20 or 30 people representing Union City and Foley Little League.”
It was a few years back that the sign over the Peter J. Foley site’s center field scoreboard that reads: “The Oldest Little League Stadium in New England,” received a free facelift courtesy of Major League Baseball.
“We had a good size group come out this year,” added Ken Stone. “The Singleys, Rob Didato and his family, Jenna Defresne, Mike Worbel and his family, Brayden Looker and his family, the Abbotts, Austin Tavares and his mom Paula. We had six or seven families come out.”
Former Union City player and retired Naugatuck fire department Capt. Dave Seeger is the Administrator for District 3 Little League, giving the borough another local connection to the Little League World Series.
“I think it really provides a spark for these young baseball players to see something like this on this kind of scale,” said Jen Stone, who is the Naugatuck assistant AD. “We sent our two oldest sons to the Little League camp out here when they played at Foley. You can sit in the stadium, and we did get to sit behind home plate, but our favorite spot is on the hill behind center field and we got on TV a few times with signs about UCLL and Foley.
“We have been to the opening ceremonies, we have been to games midweek but we never have been to championship weekend. That is on Ken’s bucket list.”
The excitement of the Little League World Series has drawn the attention of Major League Baseball as they have been hosting an annual contest in Williamsport since 2017. One oddity that stands out is that even thought close to 90 percent of MLB players got their start in Little League Baseball, only 64 big leaguers have ever played at the World Series, showing how hard it is to reach this ultimate plateau.
First-timers Paul and Katie Singley brought their children, Tessa and James Richard, to Williamsport and the experience was something they won’t forget. In fact it left such an impression that they will be back.
“We wanted to give the kids the experience of seeing baseball at an international level,” said Paul Singley. “My son got his picture taken with some of the players from Japan. Here are kids from a half a world apart, yet they have so much in common through the game of baseball.
“Even though it was on such a large scale with teams across the country and international teams it still had that small Little League feel to it. Everyone and all the teams were just so supportive of one another. The MLB players from the Phillies and Nationals came to the field and signed autographs and had pictures taken, so the kids were excited about that.”
Singley continued: “We saw Pennsylvania play Canada and there were 23,000 in attendance. That is Little League baseball on a whole other level. It was an incredible experience. I coach at Union City and I’m on the board and both of our kids play there, so we wanted them to experience this and it certainly exceeded my expectations.”