|LaFesta Baseball Exchange Marking 30 Years |
|Staff Reports, |
07:38PM / Thursday, July 22, 2021
|The annual baseball exchange was disrupted by the pandemic but it returns for its 30th year this weekend.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The pandemic last year forced the cancellation of the long-running exchange between baseball teams in the city and Boston.
But the LaFesta Baseball Exchange is back, marking its 30th year of forging connections between the state's smallest city and Boston's historic North End.
"It's 30 years this year. We've played 104 games. Over 1,000 kids have gone through the program," said founder George Canales.
The program grew out of a conversation with John Romano, coordinator of the North End Athletic Association. The exchange, originally part of the LaFesta Italian-American celebration at the former St. Anthony's Church, has became a North Adams — and North End — traditions.
The North End Dodgers will be in the city this weekend for a picnic at Windsor Lake and two games at Joe Wolfe Field, the first at 6 p.m. on Saturday and the second at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The North Adams LaFestas will travel to Boston the following weekend for another two-game set.
And the games may be competitive but they are more about forging friendships and good sportsmanship, and it's not unusual for the opposing teams to be cheering each other on.
The city team is made up of North Adams Babe Ruth players who come from a half-dozen or so communities around North Berkshire and Southern Vermont, including Bennington. Every player gets one chance to participate if they so chose.
"We want to make sure everybody gets at least one chance to go, to be fair with the kids," Canales said. "It's the same with Boston. You know everybody says well you played the North End Dodgers, I say, yeah, that team changes every year."
Canales said the North End "falls over backwards for us" and that the parents are maybe more excited to go than the kids are.
"We try to get more kids, it's about the kids," he said. "There's the superstar, and he plays, but what about the kid that's far away from being that — what does he get? This is an opportunity for all these kids."