VBSL Celebrates Opening Day

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It was the kind of windy weather that makes pitchers and outfielders crazy, but that didn’t matter to any of the children who participated in the opening day ceremony for the Verona Baseball & Softball League (VBSL).

The youth sports group is fielding 54 teams this year, and many of its 500 players gathered on Centennial Field this morning and then marched up White Rock Road to Liberty Field for the ceremony. This was new for VBSL, which used to have its players gather at the entrance to Verona Park and then march up Bloomfield Avenue to Everett Field. VBSL fields teams for boys and girls in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Today’s ceremony was also a tip of the cap to the earliest days of youth baseball in Verona, with players and coaches from the past recognized before the first balls were thrown. They included Ken and Gary Kistner, who started a VBSL precursor, the American Legion team. Ralph Betcher, who played on the 1974 state championship American Legion team, went on to play baseball at Montclair State University (MSU) in the college World Series.

VBSL’s special guess (l-r): Brian Hill, Jimmy Hill, Jamie D’Angelo, Ralph Butcher, Gary Kistner, Ken Kistner, and Angelo Pomarico

Jimmy Hill, one of six Hill siblings who played recreation ball in Verona, was aLso a VBSL coach for eight years, and his son Brian, who played for VBSL’s Minor, Major and Pony leagues, at VHS and MSU. The Hills are now the owners of Jimmy’s Family Kitchen, which took over the old Miele’s space on Bloomfield Avenue.

Jamie D’Angelo was coached in Verona Little League by his father Paul, and played for Ken Kistner on a Verona Legion team as well as at VHS, he was recognized as an All-State player in his senior year. He now owns the D’Angelo Insurance Agency in Verona. Finally, VBSL recognized Angelo Pomarico, who coached VBSL teams for 14 years and served as its president for four years.

The ceremonial first pitches were thrown out by the captains of the VHS baseball and softball teams, who all came up through the VBSL teams.

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1 COMMENT

  1. How wonderful to read about Verona baseball. All three of my sons played since they had gone to our lady of lakes school! Always a great bunch of coaches and soo many fun times ! Miss this days. !! Good luck to a great program and another great year!

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