Mangan League to Begin 65th Season
The Larry Mangan League, which the New Britain Parks and Recreation Department manages and runs, will be kicking off its 65th season next week on June 18. After having four teams in 2014, the league has expanded by one team and will boast over 65 players this coming season.
Each team is sponsored by a local business or organization. The five sponsors are the New Britain Bar Association, New Britain Little League, PAL, Polish Falcons and Sir Speedy Printing. Teams play on Tuesday, Thursday and/or Saturday during the season and play at Stanley Quarter and Walnut Hill Park with the championship series taking place at Beehive Stadium in August.
According to Matt Scofield, Recreation Program Coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department, the mission of Mangan League is to provide quality baseball skill instruction and sportsmanship lessons so that all participants become better individuals and team baseball players by the end of the season. With that mission in mind, Scofield has set out several goals for his coaches, players and program for the upcoming season.
“Our primary goal is to offer baseball to participants that don’t usually have the opportunity to play the sport. We also are working to improve the quality of baseball in New Britain. Finally, we want to offer a sport that teaches proper mechanics along with sportsmanship skill sets that make kids better players on and off the field.”
These goals and principles have allowed the Mangan League to sustain itself over the past 64 years, despite the fact that participation in youth sports, especially baseball, has been declining all across the board for the past several years. Now, with the sports landscape changing every year, Scofield said they have narrowed the focus to a different breed of players and are starting to see the results pay off, which is evidenced by the fact that they have added one additional team compared to 2014.
“Youth baseball across the country and in New Britain has been impacted by competition from spring and summer AAU basketball programs and summer youth football camps. The glory days of youth sports saw kids competing in a different sport every season, but now more focused year around sports programs are being offered and kids are committing to other sports as opposed to baseball. We are now in the business of developing those kids that show the interest in baseball all the way from Little League to our league and onto high school. Having programs that transitions these kids from one league to another in all the warm weather months and keeping their interest in baseball has to be a priority for all organizations that supervise youth baseball.”
That laser sharp focus is also important for Scofield and his coaches because of all the other summer baseball programs that are offered in New Britain. When you factor in the Farmington Bank/Vantis Life Travel Baseball League and American Legion, options are plenty and field space is limited. Thus, having the right coaches who are focusing on the right things helps the program retain players from year to year.
However, Scofield said that it’s not necessarily a competition to see who can get more players, but instead, it’s more of a partnership of working together to provide the best possible experience for the youth of New Britain. Like the Farmington Bank/Vantis Life Travel League and the American Legion League, the Mangan League is much more than just the product on the field.
“The summer brings a time for kids to be outside, exercise, and enjoy the summer weather playing baseball before school picks back up and winter is here again. We are in our 65th season of Mangan League and to be able to continue a tradition like this for its founders means a lot to this department,” Scofield said. “To have a team crowned New Britain City Champions at the end of the season and getting their team name added to the Mangan Trophy means a lot to the players, coaches and parents. It’s those moments that the New Britain Parks and Recreation Department strive to offer. Those moments where New Britain families come down to our wonderful parks during the summer, enjoy themselves, and root on their favorite play.