By Bobby Wagner, Sports Editor
The NYU baseball team hit the field on Sunday, but it wasn’t their home field of MCU Park, and it wasn’t for a game of their own. Head Coach Doug Kimbler tasked sophomore pitchers Marshall Kramsky, Michael Anastasiou and Matthew Millus with organizing the Violets’ volunteer effort at Empire Baseball, a youth baseball organization stationed in the west side of Manhattan. The three pitchers and a few other team members mentored, coached and umpired for Empire’s 5 to 10-year-old recreational league championships, which were held at one of the organization’s fields on 112th Street. Kramsky, who has been involved in other events with Empire since coming to NYU, relished the opportunity to be a role model for the kids.
“The memories and relationships we formed with the kids are ones that will last a lifetime. These kids really look up to us as heroes,” Kramsky said. “I learned just as much from them as they learned from me.”
Jordan Baltimore, a 1996 Stern graduate, runs Empire and often reaches out to the team to get involved in charity events with their youth organizations. The goal of the organization, as expressed on their website, is to teach life lessons through the game of baseball. Founded in 2009, they foster competition for the most competitive to the most recreational of youth players. Anastasiou and his 23 teammates who attended were all excited to pair with Empire and further the connection the NYU baseball team enjoys with the rest of the city.
“There was a consensus within the team to give back to the community, helping young kids fulfill their dreams,” Anastasiou said. “In a city rich with baseball history it is a pleasure to represent a program dedicated not only to academic and athletic excellence but also a lasting impact on the community.”
The event grabbed the attention of larger sponsors as well. Pepsi and Shake Shack catered Sunday’s event. But besides getting to meet kids that looked up to them and eat free Shake Shack, the players had the opportunity to do something every baseball player wants: relive the days when they were in Little League.
“These kids remind me why I play the game in the first place,” Kramsky said. “The pure joy and smiles of running on and off the field, spitting sunflower seeds and forming lifelong relationships reminded me why this game is so special.”
Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]