When Andy Benjamin first started playing in New Castle’s adult softball league more than three decades ago, his son Matthew would watch from the sidelines and cheer him on. As he got older, he would sit on the bench to keep score. Once he graduated from high school, Matthew (better know as Matty B) finally got to play alongside his old man.
“Most of us have the same story,” Andy Benjamin said. “Our sons said ‘keep playing until I can play with you.’”
It’s a cherished memory for Benjamin and one of the many reasons he’s played and managed in the recreational softball league since 1982. With the New Castle softball season in full swing, a remarkable 24 teams and close to 500 players are part of the program that is filtered into three leagues. It’s an impressive number of participants considering when Benjamin first started there was a little more than half that number of squads.
Benjamin, who played baseball in high school, described a league that has evolved and changed over the years. It’s a “user friendly” league, which makes it more enjoyable for those involved, Benjamin said. When he first started, anyone who worked at a business in town could play, even if they didn’t live in New Castle. That would result in an influx of “ringers” (superior players who would join the game under false pretenses.)
“In the beginning it was like the Wild West,” he said. “Everybody worked for somebody in the town. If there was a restaurant (that had a team) everybody was a part-time waiter there.”
Now, players need to live in the town or work for the town, Benjamin said, and that has resulted in more parity and fair competition in the league. He said two forms of proof are necessary to enter the league.
There are three divisions in the program depending on talent level and age. The A, B, or C league, with the A league the most competitive and the C league the least. Games typically last about an hour and 15 minutes.
New Castle recreation supervisor Doug Scott, who runs the softball program, said for the size of the town, the number of teams and players is above average. There are multiple teams that have been in the league for at least 20 years, he said and there are some players that are into their 60s that still play.
One advantage compared to other towns that New Castle can boast is it has lights at one of its softball fields, which can lead to more games per week. For those residents that commute to and from New York City on weekdays, it gives them the chance to still make their game that night. Instead of playing only one game a night, New Castle’s softball league can fit three games in, Scott noted.
Overall, it’s just a good group of guys engaged in friendly competition, Scott said.
“It’s been a community tradition,” Scott, who is in his second year running the softball games, said. “A camaraderie thing for a lot of guys. They get together, get outside, have a good time, go to the bar after. It’s just a good, fun way for them to spend time together.”
Aaron Podhurst, who ran the softball games for 17 years when he worked for New Castle, said considering only residents are allowed to play, to have close to 500 players is an impressive number. If there were more fields in town, Podhurst, who is now the Hastings-on-Hudson recreation department superintendent, thinks the program could’ve even expanded to more teams and players. There is generally a waitlist of players that want to join the league, Podhurst said.
Podhurst also mentioned having lights at one of the fields as a “tremendous advantage” that helps attract more players.
“It’s a great way for the adults to have some recreation,” he said. “They love to devote some time to something they actually enjoy. It’s just a great way to spend a night.”
While some towns and villages that have softball leagues include business and corporation teams and are simply looking for the most skilled players, New Castle prefers people within the community.
It’s led to special bonds between the men.
Benjamin said he doesn’t just consider his longtime teammates friends, but brothers. After almost every game on Tuesday nights, they all go to Quaker Hill Tavern to relive the ups and downs of the ballgame. They’ve gone to each other’s weddings, birthdays and their children’s bar mitzvahs. They even all went out to Arizona together once to play in a softball tournament hosted by Sports Illustrated.
Even players on different teams cultivate relationships with each other, Benjamin said.
“We do it for the fun, we do it for the competition, we do it for the camaraderie and when you play with guys for a long time, you develop a brotherhood,” Benjamin said. “There are 500 guys who just want to get out and go hit a ball and have some fun and share some good times.”
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From Victory Corners to Memorial Plaza, a village gathered to enjoy Chappaqua’s 2019 Memorial Day parade and ceremonies
Article by Madeline Rosenberg Photos by Hannah Rosenberg
The echo of drums and bagpipes competed with the cheers of parade watchers who lined downtown Chappaqua for the 2019 Memorial Day Parade. Waving miniature American flags, residents and visitors honored the veterans and organizations* who proceeded down King Street. Chappaqua Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts were among the first groups to march down the hill, as they held American and troop number adorned flags. Some expressed that walking in the parade was an opportunity to present themselves to the community.“I love representing the troop because a lot of people don’t know we have a boy scout troop,” Thomas Macchetto, a troop member and Greeley senior, said before the parade began. “It’s fun to see everyone come together because you don’t see people like this very often.”
As these groups walked past seas of families and friends dressed in red, white and blue, parade marshals, as well as federal, state and local officials followed them, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, ‘first neighbors’ who made their annual parade day appearance.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, Town Supervisor Rob Greenstein, and board members Lisa Katz, Ivy Pool and Jeremy Saland joined the Clintons in the procession, as did State Assemblyman David Buchwald and state Senator Peter Harckham, and area clergy including Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester. Clapping and waving parade watchers greeted them. (Editor’s Note: A tiny group of hecklers found their voices dimmed by the crowds so enthusiastically greeting those in the procession.)
Please also visit: https://www.facebook.com/theinsidepress/ for additional coverage and footage of Memorial Day 2019 in Chappaqua
Organizations spanning from the Chappaqua School Board and Library to AYSO and Town of New Castle Senior Citizens also participated in the event, along with veterans who paraded in military vehicles. Parade watchers saw no shortage of students in the procession, as the Greeley, middle school and elementary school bands each performed patriotic songs, which became the background for the First Responders who followed them, trucks included.
Student and adult volunteers from the Chappaqua and Millwood Fire Departments and the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and officers of the New Castle Police Department, all marched in their uniforms reminding parade watchers of the importance of honoring those who serve, beyond Memorial Day.
But the presence of veterans and the town’s first responders was not the only reminder of the importance of service or the holiday’s meaning. As the parade finished at the train station, attendees gathered around officials, veterans and girl scouts for the Memorial Plaza Ceremony.
Chappaqua resident and Captain Peter Gaudet led the ceremony for the first time, which included biographies of New Castle World War II veterans, in a recognition of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.** Along with recognizing the dignitaries and veterans present at the ceremony, Guaudet asked parents to hug their children as part of a new tradition.
“A lot of us veterans have friends that can’t hug their children because they didn’t make it back — gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
A keynote address was made by U.S. Army Veteran Captain Jonathan Luttwak,*** who served in Iraq and Kuwait.
Continuing to honor those who served, Luttwak reminded attendees in his speech that Memorial Day represents more than a time to barbeque and celebrate with friends and family, but a day to pay tribute to those who died while serving in the armed forces.
“Today we continue that tradition and pause together to pay our respects to our fallen hero,” Luttwak told the audience. “We honor their sacrifice. We honor their selflessness, their patriotism and the legacy of service they leave behind.”
Madeline Rosenberg is a senior at Horace Greeley High School where she was a section editor for The Greeley Tribune. She will be attending Cornell University in the fall.
Hannah Rosenberg is a photography intern at Inside Press and a senior at Horace Greeley High School where she was a photo editor for The Greeley Tribune. She will be attending Cornell University in the fall.
Additional Info from the Town of New Castle:
*The procession proceeded as follows: New Castle police escort; Color Guard of Chappaqua Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts; Parade Marshals; Dignitaries-Federal, New York State, Westchester County, Town of New Castle Board, Justices and Officials, and Clergy; Chappaqua School Board and Chappaqua Library Board; The Kerry Pipers; World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq-Afghanistan Veterans, NY Guard, Gold Star Mothers, and Military Vehicles; 5th New York Regiment-Revolutionary War Squad; Parade of Historic Flags; Town of New Castle Senior Citizens; Horace Greeley High School Band; Chappaqua Girl Scouts, Brownies and Daisy Troops; Robert E. Bell School Band, Chappaqua Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts; Community Organizations; Chappaqua Elementary Schools Band; American Youth Soccer Organization; Chappaqua Pre-School Parents Association; Seven Bridges Middle School Board; Town of New Castle Fire Commissioners; Chappaqua and Millwood Fire Companies; Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps; and town of New Castle Police Escort.
** World War II Veteran Biographies compiled by David Egerton; read by Chappaqua Girl Scouts Troop 2576: Private William Viscomi, U.S. Army, 4th Armored Division-read by Christine Maffucci. Sargent Peter J. Lynch, U.S. Army 78th Division-read by Emma Grace Jorgensen. Following these readings was The Honor Roll of the New Castle War Dead
*** Mr. Luttwak is the founder and CEO of DHC Real Estate Services, a certified service-disabled veteran owned business. Founded on the belief that real estate is the ‘where’ that enables all we do as a nation, DHC is a full-service commercial real estate firm that combines the successful execution of real estate strategies with a sense of purpose and exceptional service to its clients. A seasoned real estate professional, withmore than ten years of transactional experience, Mr. Luttwak has worked with many of the world’s most demanding enterprises and completed numerous real estate transactions worldwide. Hisreputation for delivering value and unrivaled customer service was honed during more than a decade at Cushman & Wakefield, where Mr. Luttwak worked in the New York City headquarters alongside the Chairman of Global Brokerage. Prior to entering the private sector, Jonathan served six years as a United States Army officer reaching the grade of captain. He qualified through Airborne and Air Assault school and deployed to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terror. Mr. Luttwak is deeply tied into the community professionally and personally. He is the Vice President of the West Point Society of New York and an officer on the Board of the West Point Jewish Chapel Fund. He is also an active contributor to numerous charitable organizations and passionate supporter of initiatives that serve to better the veteran and active military community. Mr Luttwak earned his Bachelors of Science undergraduate degree in systems engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Columbia Business School with concentration in real estate.
On January 1st, the Town of New Castle released new regulations regarding standards for recycling. Previously the United States used to export much of its recycling waste to China. Unfortunately, China recently stopped taking this foreign recycling waste. The new “Dual Stream Recycling” policy supports the town of New Castle’s goal of recycling as much as possible, while reducing recycling fees. Inside Press asked Town Supervisor Robert Greenstein to help clarify the new regulations. He offered the following tips:
1. Separate recycling into cardboards and papers or plastics and glass.This way, the materials are easier and cheaper to process once received.
2. Clean plastics and glass recyclables of food residue, or the entire load can become contaminated and therefore will be treated as trash.
3. Throw out pizza boxes, as most have food residue and grease that contaminate the paper and cardboard.
4. Don’t put recyclables in plastic bags because the bags jam the processing machinery. Reuse plastic bags and take them to stores that recycle.
These changes help make the entire recycling process more efficient and less costly, he said.
Michael Cicale, New Castle’s Recycling Center Foreman, explained that recycling is a “for-profit” business and the new rules were implemented to help ease the process of receiving recyclables. He further stated that many recyclable items end up being thrown out due to a high contamination rate.
Residents on ‘Chappaqua Moms,’ an online forum for community members, discussed the new regulations. Diane Bernstein said she has found ways to donate and reuse goods that cannot be recycled and would otherwise have to be thrown away. For example, Bernstein collects empty and clean medicine bottles for an organization that distributes them in Africa to people who cannot afford these containers, which are needed to keep pills safe from moisture and away from small children.
The Problem with ‘Wishful Recycling’
In a joint statement, Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) members Kathy Schreiber and Jennifer Mebes Flagg told the Inside Press: “The SAB is working with the Town on continued education efforts to help residents understand the new rules and curtail “wishful recycling” which is when people put things in recycling bins they hope are recyclable or think should be recyclable.
Unfortunately, wishful recycling contaminates recycling collections, turning the entire load into garbage while increasing processing costs.” The new regulations, they insist, increase people’s awareness about how recycling works, and reduce the town’s costs.
Ongoing efforts to reduce waste town-wide include the Town’s Food Scrap Recycling Program. Residents bring all their food waste to the recycling center, even bones, shells, and meat that are not good for backyard composting. Participants pay $25 for a kit which includes collection bins and compostable bags. According to the SAB, the pilot program already has 200 participants. The food scraps are taken to a commercial composting facility in Ulster County, but with more towns starting food waste collection programs, the hope is that Westchester County will open its own municipal compost facility.
Take it Or Leave It Shed
Locals can donate usable household items for others to take and reuse at the volunteer-run shed. Residents also frequent Facebook as a way to post and advertise donated or on-sale items.
Despite the efforts, various residents expressed confusion. Susan Oliver told the Inside Press,“I spend way too much time figuring out the new regulations which are posted on my refrigerator.”
Yet Diane Langham Bernstein noted that “for the first time in years, I had a full trash container and my recycling ones were half of what they used to be.” The criticism seems to revolve around specifics that can be hard to understand or confusing. Take wax paper boxes. “Is that considered “coated cardboard” and therefore trash?” wondered local resident Susan Oliver.
As we approach Earth Day on April 22nd, the town wishes to continue raising awareness about these new recycling policies, making New Castle an example for other communities to follow.
Be a Recycling Champ …
1. Separate bottles, cans, glass and plastics #1-#6 from cardboard and paper.
2. Make sure all recycled goods are separated and ready for curbside pickup.
3. Refer to the town’s recycling schedule.
4. Consider joining the food-scrap recycling program.
5. Put extra reusable bags in your car, for when you go to the store.
6. Many supermarkets have machines, in which patrons can dispose bottles in return for a small payment.
7. Bring reusable water bottles, hot beverage and food containers to school or work to avoid the need to recycle.
The assignment sounded easy enough. For one month I would keep a “gratitude” journal where I’d make note of things in my life that I feel grateful about. I’m a relatively positive person and I assumed this would be a walk in the park and now that I mention it, something like a walk in the park is the exact type of thing I should show gratitude towards! This was going to be fun and, perhaps, even enlightening. And then I started the actual journal.
The day I began the journal I was ending a summer trip with a few friends in the great American southwest. We were all going our separate ways and at the airport I found myself sitting alone in the terminal people-watching and taking in the mall-like environment. With the concept of gratitude on my mind, especially after a few days with long-time buddies, I took out the journal to, presumably, write about my good fortune in having these relationships. However, before I could jot down a single thankful syllable I saw something that explicitly made me feel gratitude. My first entry went like this: At this moment I am extremely grateful to not be a mid-western gentleman struggling to eat a slice of airport pizza with a plastic knife and fork. This journal entry was simple, accurate and pathetically insubstantial. However, my first thought immediately was that I wished my just departed friends had seen this because they’d find it funny too.
A few days later I was with my family in Chinatown about to order a feast in our favorite restaurant there. Charlie was headed back to college the next day and hitting this restaurant pre-departure had become a nice tradition. I knew going in that it would be an admittedly lightweight no-brainer for me to write about my gratitude towards the remarkable crab/pork soup dumplings we were imminently going to devour. Yet after perusing the menu and making our choices, like the proverbial light bulb, a moment I was grateful to experience occurred: After ordering what we sincerely believed, was a reasonable amount of food the waiter looked me in the eye, paused and simply said “too much food.” I told him that we knew what we were doing and to please carry on. This humorous moment immediately made me think of my father, a great gourmand, and how proud he would have been of his very hungry family. What a sweet moment!
Later that night, journal in hand, I was thinking about the evening and considering how it was just filled with things I am thankful for. Just the mere fact of the four of us being together was now a special thing. Not even to mention my daughter’s stunning inner and outer beauty, my gorgeous wife’s remarkable intelligence along with my son’s ongoing evolution as a scholar and compassionate human being. However, the journal entry I ended up with was: Charlie drove us to Chinatown this evening and he was incredibly proud of his well-executed, under pressure, Manhattan parallel park. I re-read this entry and admittedly it may sound slight in the context of an exploration of personal gratitude. However, I felt fulfilled, grateful even, noting that my boy has embraced the ability to find beauty, meaning and humor in the mundane acts of daily existence.
Upon reviewing my journal entries, I was initially disappointed in how flimsy they seemed. I never considered myself shallow but there sure seemed to be a lot of entries that involved food, humor and way too many about playing softball on the newly crowned New Castle “B” league Champions, The Dirty Mac! OK, perhaps that one is just a tad shallow. So, I reviewed every journal entry and quickly realized, with some relief, that upon closer examination all the entries, even softball, were connected to those things one would assume they’d be thankful for: Family, health, love, relationships, etc.
I whole-heartedly recommend keeping a gratitude journal even if it’s a finite endeavor. A daily pause to consider what we are grateful for can be insightful and somehow just feels appropriate in these trying times.