McCabe-Waters opens for season

McCabe-Waters Little League opened its 66th season last week with members of its past, present and future gathered on historic Frazier Field.

In addition to families, volunteers and coaches, members of the first McCabe teams from 1950: Henry Couture and Paul Fanelli, were in attendance, as were former coaches Gerard Couture, Stanley Orzell, Bill Gawitt and Joe Zdun and special guests District 5 administrator Maryellen Holden and her granddaughter Piper Holden, as well as the general manager of the new Bristol Blues team – Rick Muntean – and D-5 umpire Mike Ledger.

As is the McCabe-Waters tradition, the league’s 12-year-old players were asked to stand along the third base line, indicating their role as the leaders of McCabe-Waters. This year, League President Karl Nelson also asked any other McCabe-Waters alumni who were in the crowd to also join the 12-year-olds; and, over three dozen grandparents, parents and friends stepped forward to join the ceremony.

This past year, McCabe also suffered a double loss with the deaths of long-time umpires Kevin Holden and John Fliss. Nelson noted, according to a press release from the league, that “their countless hours spent on these fields will be remembered for many years to come.”

D-5 umpire Mike Ledger and the 12-year-old members of the Red Sox, Kevin Holden’s favorite team, presented Maryellen Holden and Piper Holden with a gift of remembrance in honor of Kevin’s dedication to the League.

The ceremonial first pitches were thrown by Bristol Police Department officer of the year Peter Sassu, and his Little League coaches from the 1970s, Henry Couture and Stan Orzell.

Over 30 years ago, the news release explained, Sassu was a player on this same field as a member of the Major League Mets, along with his brothers, who would often ride their bikes or walk to practice from their home on Federal Hill.

Named Police Officer of the Year by the Exchange Club of Bristol for his leadership as a School Resource Officer at Bristol Eastern High School this year, Sassu is better known at McCabe-Waters as one of the coaches for last year’s League Champions, the Yankees, and a long-time volunteer here at the League where all 3 of his children played.

In the 1970s, the McCabe teams had a talented group of men, the release explained, some of whom did not even have kids in the League who coached the teams. Two of Sassu’s coaches were Stanley Orzell and Henry Couture, who along with his brothers Paul and Gerard, and many others, spent countless hours here at McCabe where registration that decade was over 400 players.

As part of the ceremony, Trevor O’Neil, a McCabe-Waters alumni, a junior at Bristol Central presented Officer Sassu with baseball equipment that will be used in the Roberto Clemente summer baseball league on Davis Drive that Sassu runs in conjunction with the Police and Youth Services city departments, the Bristol Housing Authority, and the Bristol Boys & Girls Club.

Last year O’Neil and classmate Caeli Wygant ran a baseball equipment drive as part of a Civics class project based on the project idea was that the ability to participate in sports helps youths stay on track and teaches them life skills like teamwork and responsibility.

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