Niskayuna Babe Ruth comes to life

"We had to make Babe Ruth the place the kids wanted to go to, and that's what Bill and Tom have done here," said Sutherland.

Swyers said most of the advice Sutherland gave centered around avoiding the mistakes Sutherland made in his early days running the Colonie Babe Ruth program.

"That's why we accelerated the process. Every mistake (he) made, I haven't had to repeat," said Swyers.

"Leagues usually take three years to become universally accepted, and they're three years ahead of schedule," said Sutherland.

Among the programs Swyers and Fredenburg put in place was a 13-year-old prep league to help with the adjustment from Cal Ripken to Babe Ruth baseball, the establishment of all-star teams for 14- and 15-year-olds, three fall baseball teams and a summer clinic featuring members of the New York Collegiate Baseball League's Saratoga Phillies.

"This was the first time where we've had organized fall baseball," said Swyers.

Along the way, Swyers and Fredenburg brought the town of Niskayuna and Niskayuna High School's baseball program into the fold to get them involved in the direction of the Babe Ruth program.

"When I took over as (Niskayuna Baseball League) president, there was no relationship with the town, there was no relationship with the (high) school and there was very little relationship with the parents," said Fredenburg.

"We're trying to make it so that everybody wins " the community wins, the high school program wins and the players win," said Swyers.

Swyers and Fredenburg also convinced older teens to help their younger Babe Ruth counterparts by coaching the recreation division teams.

"The younger teens really look up to the older teens, and the older teens really helped them transition to the high school level (through the Babe Ruth program)," said Swyers.

The efforts by Swyers and Fredenburg paid off. Niskayuna Babe Ruth had six teams in the youth recreation league and two senior division teams with full 18-man rosters and a waiting list last year, along with three teams in the 13-year-old division prep league.

For his efforts, Swyers was named the Eastern New York Babe Ruth Volunteer of the Year last year, but he said the honor is really shared by everyone involved.

"The award, as much as I appreciate it, shows that we're a model program now," said Swyers.

Registration for the 2009 Niskayuna Babe Ruth season officially closed Tuesday, but Fredenburg said players can still sign up.

"We try to get everyone into the program, even after the registration period is closed," he said. "We ended Cal Ripken registration (three) weeks ago, and we're still getting kids in.""

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