All Things Are Possible—Lessons Learned from Spring and Little League Baseball

By Town Supervisor George Hoehmann

1972
Seven members (Joe Damiani, Joe Fitzgerald, Tom McTigue, Ken Novenstern, Jeff Ramundo, Joe Soprano, and Bill Way) of the 1972 Championship team join New City Little League President Mike Cohen, Supervisor Hoehmann, Legislator Hofstein and Councilman Carroll prior to the ceremony.

All the welcoming signs of Spring can now be seen across the Town of Clarkstown; the trees are budding, flowers are starting to bloom, and a number of Little League Opening Day ceremonies have already taken place.  While we all typically look forward to the promise of a new Spring, I think those feelings are stronger than ever this year as we emerge from the COVID restrictions of the past two years.  Yes, spring has sprung and I think we are all delighted to get back outside as the warmer weather sets in. 

This past weekend was evidence enough for me, as I once again attended a number of events that had been cancelled the past two years, starting with the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce Art Show Reception Friday evening, at the Palisades Mall. It was the largest one I can recall, with several hundred in attendance. The theme of the Art Show was completely appropriate: “All Things Are Possible.” 

Saturday morning was Opening Day for the West Nyack and New City Little Leagues. Hundreds of boys and girls accompanied by their parents and volunteer coaches smiled eagerly in anticipation of the possibilities of a new season. There is something about little league baseball and Spring that makes us think “all things are possible”. 

This came to mind during the Opening Day ceremony that commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the 1972 New City Rams who went all the way to the Little League World Series. The 1972 New City Rams embarked on a magical season and won every elimination game on their way to the championship. They won the District 18 Championship, the New York State Championship and finally the Eastern Regional Championship in Baldwin, NY, that earned them entry into the Little League World Series Championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 

The team was led by the overpowering pitching of starters Paul Shindelar and Mike Beckley; the Rams scored 65 runs and gave up only 12 in their first 12 games! No game was said to be more emblematic of New City’s march to glory than a 6-2 victory in the NYS Quarterfinal as Shindelar and Beckley each hit a 3-run homerun and pitched back to back in the win. These two young pitchers would continue to dominate teams highlighted by Beckley’s no-hitter in divisional play and Shindelar’s multiple 1 and 2-hitters including a two hit shutout in Williamsport, against Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Joe Waters added a two hit victory over Spain in Williamsport. New City’s hitting was outstanding, highlighted by a walk-off homerun by Joe Soprano and a two run blast by Tom McTigue in regional play. The Rams defense was spectacular with solid catching by Jeff Ramundo, shortstop McTigue and second baseman Ken Hanniford up the middle and stalwart first base play by Joe Soprano. All in all, Manager Kel Dowd and Coaches Murphy and Canu inspired their team to win in whatever manner possible; pitching, long ball, small ball, base-running and defense. Unfortunately, they lost in the first round at Williamsport to defending World Champions, Taiwan, who would go on to dominate the tournament and repeat as world champions. 

The New City All-Stars returned home to great acclaim and a well-deserved parade in front of thousands of adoring fans. That magical season proved at least to the New City Rams and the rest of Rockland that all things were indeed possible. A team from suburban Rockland County could go all the way to become one of the top teams in the world! 

After Saturday’s Opening Day ceremony, I had the opportunity to spend some time with seven members of the 1972 team. A few of them still live here and several others flew in to participate.  We gathered at Rocco’s Restaurant in New City with the League President and seven former players now turned parents, grandparents, and business owners. As I listened to some of the conversations I learned about that incredible season. It was wonderful to hear about their childhood memories and the lessons they learned. Fifty years ago they were among the very best in the world, yet for most if not all of them, the following fifty years have been even better. All of these men have experienced successes, failures and accomplishments both professionally and personally. They were inspired by the hard work and determination learned as youngsters long ago. While not all of their future successes can be attributed to that magical season, the lessons learned from that time helped them to go on to bigger and better things. Most assuredly, that season taught them, that particular spring and every metaphorical spring thereafter… “All Things Are Possible.”  

So here’s to another Spring and Little League baseball season. Here’s to the lessons we can all learn anew about hard work, teamwork, and determination. May this time be a time of renewal for all of us. Good luck to all the players, parents, and coaches as they pursue their own magical seasons knowing “all things are possible”. May they learn well the lessons of Spring. A very special thank you to the 1972 Championship New City Rams for reminding all of us that even after 50 years, life is filled with so many wonderful new beginnings.  Indeed “All Things Are Possible.”

For one summer, a scrappy bunch of 12-year old kids put New City on the map. The team and coaches are listed as follows:

Kel Dowd, Manager

Ed Murphy, Coach

Tony Canu, Pitching Coach

Roster Players:

Paul Schindelar

Joe Soprano

Mike Beckley

Joe Waters

Jeff Ramundo

Bill Way

Tom McTigue

Ken Hanniford

Jack Watson

Jim Bladel

John Ryan

Joe Fitzgerald

Mike Valentini

Kyle Bierly

 

Alternates:

Ken Novenstern

Frank Arcuri

Joe Damiani

Jeff Stull

Chris Dale