Imagine: a warm breeze, a sunny day; the smell of hot dogs and popcorn; sitting with dad, mom, and a best friend. Now, the crack of the bat, a gasp from the crowd, cheers and a standing ovation, as the ball flies over the centerfield fence – Perfection!
When asked about the game, Kevin Rhomberg, Jamestown Jammers Vice President for Community Relations/Baseball Operations, recently mused, “Baseball is all about making memories.”
Whether a part of T-ball, City Recreation leagues, Babe Ruth, or the Prospect League Jamestown Jammers, full of local history, it is an essential thread woven into the fabric of life here for young and old alike.
Lessons about teamwork, leadership, honesty, sportsmanship, and perseverance combine with commitment to family and society. George Panebianco, local attorney, Babe Ruth coach and volunteer, often takes his teams to watch the Jammers play. He said, “I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon or evening than going down to Russ Diethrick Stadium and watching a game. Not only do the kids learn about baseball but they learn about life lessons.”
Baseball becomes more than a game by bridging generations. The Community Foundation’s Fund for the Region does much the same by offering the broadest range of support for the area’s well-being, now and into the future. “Community,” “Environment,” “Human Services,” “Arts & Culture,” and finally “Sports & Leisure” are its benchmarks.
Sports and leisure are immensely important to regional vitality. There are a number of funds available to support youth sports, in particular. The Robert H. Benson Memorial Fund, the Ford L. Swanson Memorial Baseball Fund, and the newly established Let’s Play Ball Fund, to name a few, are focused on baseball and the desire to make certain every child has the opportunity to participate, regardless of economic circumstance.
The Community Foundation partnered with the YWCA to promote women in sports through “Get in the Game,” and the Jamestown Skating Club’s annual production of “Excellence on Ice” which was performed the evening prior to the nationally televised Progressive Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular on NBC.
This August, Jamestown will once again be host to the 13 Year Old Babe Ruth World Series when participants from across the United States will gather here to take part in America’s historic pastime. Twenty-eight collegiate athletes will be calling this area “home” from late May until early August, as they play for the Prospect League Jammers. All of them, hopeful of making their mark in baseball, will be here living out their dreams and pursuing their futures, leaving an indelible mark on this community.
In many ways, The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is helping provide for tomorrow’s future today.