NORWALK, Conn. – New president Richard Clemens is looking to help Cranbury Baseball raise its game as the league prepares to open its season Saturday.
Clemens, a former pitcher at Fairfield University, said the league is looking to build upon changes that have improved overall player experience. Cranbury plans interleague games against Norwalk Cal Ripken, a wood bat league in July and August and an overhaul of its website.
“The whole goal is to provide a great experience for the kids so that they want to continue playing,’’ Clemens said. “We want them to keep coming back year after year.”
Cranbury’s season begins Saturday at Tim Devine Field, where state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. That is the official opening day, but Clemens and the Cranbury board have been busy making improvements as the league heads into its 52nd season.
The league held late winter midweek clinics for the players, giving them an opportunity to polish their skills in advance of tryouts. League apparel is now available for purchase via the league website. Online registration became available for the first time this winter. The season concludes with its travel team visiting Cooperstown, N.Y., in August. Cranbury won a wood-bat championship last year in the New York Tournament. “If you want to play, you’re going to get a chance to play a lot of baseball,’’ Clemens said.
He took over as president from Dave Scarpone and brings his playing experience at Fairfield, where he is one three Stags to pitch a no-hitter. He turned the trick against Hartford in a seven-inning game in 1985. He also has been involved in coaching Cranbury for eight years and has served in various leadership positions with the league.
“We had a group of guys that were involved for a long time,’’ Clemens said. “We’re talking now about doing some innovative stuff to keep the tradition going. This year we updated the website for the first time in 1,000 years, and it’s terrific.”
Some board members have stayed on, including vice president Tom Troy, who runs the umpire program that uses teenagers. Dave Williams and Maggie Halpin have taken the lead with marketing and publicity. Other officers include secretary Jim Coonan, treasurer Richard Sandor and league commissioners Joe Murawski, Jim Coohan, John Bair and Craig Lints.
“The biggest challenge is getting more people involved,’’ Clemens said. “We have a good core group. But we want the parts of the kids who are 5, 6 and 7 years old to get involved. There are a lot of simple things that need to be done.”
Cranbury offers leagues for players ages 4 to 12. Saturday’s opening days includes a skills competition, exhibition play by younger age groups, games and raffles, merchandise, a concession stand and free ice cream for players in uniform.
“It’s a great experience for the kids,’’ Clemens said. “I played all the time growing up. Some of my best experiences in life came in playing youth baseball.”