Bedford Little Leagues take a swing at cancer

Some of the best memories children can have is being a part of a summer Little League baseball team. A clear, summer sky, with nothing but a worn-out mitt and a few friends, is a fun and active way to stay in shape.

But what if they were playing for a greater cause?

Three Bedford Little League teams (ages 8-10) are playing in this year’s summer Jimmy Fund League to raise money for cancer research. Roughly 36 players make up the three teams: a competitive team and two noncompetitive teams.

“Last year’s Bedford’s Little League Jimmy Fund teams raised $500,” said John Mokas, Bedford Little League District 1 treasurer. “This year, so far, we’ve raised over $300, and money will continue to come in until the end of the noncompetitive teams’ season.”

Jaime Saltzman manages the Jimmy Fund competitive team. The team made it all the way to the Final Four but lost to Windham.

“At the beginning of the season, we passed out donation jars to each of the players,” Saltzman said. “We raised money at the concession stand and 50/50 raffles.”

“We’re more playing for the overall cause and not for any specific person,” said Joe Taylor, Bedford Little League District 1 president. “My mother battled with breast cancer, so the disease was something my son was very aware of. I also know of two other Little League coaches who battled cancer and survived.”

Kevin O’Conner manages one of the noncompetitive teams, which will continue to play until mid-August.

“A handful of kids already knew about the Jimmy Fund, because they were Red Sox fans and knew about the program through the Red Sox organization,” O’Conner said. “We’ve only had one home game so far, and it’s really our home games where Bedford residents have the opportunity to donate for the cause.”

O’Conner’s noncompetitive teams’ next home games will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21, and 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 24.

Games take place on the Bedford Little League’s Complex off Route 101 in Bedford. Residents can make donations at the home games through the concession stand, 50/50 raffle and bucket toss, which is a popular fundraiser for the parents. The players throw the ball and see if they can be the closest to the bucket.

“Last away game, our team lost a close one – 11-12 – but our players had fun with their opponents raising money after the game,” O’Conner said.

“It’s been an experience. I’ve been playing baseball since my childhood, and to be able to coach and keep kids active and for a great cause is something I’ll never forget.”

Katelyn Dobbs can be reached at 594-6549 or kdobbs@nashuatelegraph.com.