For the 29th straight year, Randy Frankel will take his spot behind the backstop at Stan Lederman Field in Pittsburgh’s iconic Frick Park. When Squirrel Hill Baseball begins its season this week, Frankel, the league’s director, will be on hand enjoying what he believes is the flourishing league’s best attribute.
“What I like is that kids get to meet other kids from all different backgrounds and communities,” said Frankel. “It’s not just kids from Squirrel Hill. We draw kids from all over the city of Pittsburgh.”
When Frankel began his tenure nearly three decades ago, Squirrel Hill Baseball was “mostly Little League,” he said. The children who participated were between the ages of 9 and 12 years old. Since those days the league has grown. Opportunities now exist for children as young as 3 and as old as 17.
“The program now is a lot more diverse,” said Frankel. “There are the Junior Pirates for 3- to 5-year-olds, the Future Stars for 6- to 8-year-olds, and Division II for 9- and 10-year-olds; 11- and 12-year-olds are in the Bronco League, and the Pony League is for 13- to 14-year-olds. We also have the Colt League for 15- to 17-year-olds. And we have two levels of girls softball — 10 to 12 and 13 to 15.”
Along with softball, another program that Frankel has implemented is training camps. Throughout the year, Frankel partners with the University of Pittsburgh by having children attend a college baseball game and afterward receive training from the players.
For years, such opportunities have benefited those involved with Squirrel Hill Baseball. More recently, Frankel has searched for ways that the league itself can be a source of betterment.
This year, “to give back to the community, we are going to hold our first Clean-up Frick Park Day,” he said. Kids and parents involved in Squirrel Hill Baseball will join together in what Frankel hopes will become an annual activity.
“We want to develop these projects over the next few years to give back to the community.”
When Frankel became director 29 years ago he inherited the position from Stan Lederman.
“Stan and [wife] Lynette really paved the way for making my job as easy as possible,” said Frankel, although scheduling can become quite challenging.
“We have over 75 Orthodox players who normally wouldn’t be playing baseball because it’s a weekend and weeknights program, but we accommodate all of them,” he said.
Before the season starts, Frankel said that he sits down with a calendar of Jewish holidays and candle-lighting times and tries to satisfy everyone’s requests. He is happy to do so because of the outcomes achieved.
“The biggest thing in working with kids is you see them improve their skills, see them make friendships with kids not only from Squirrel Hill, but also from different communities, different backgrounds and different schools.”
Even after all these years, Frankel is still excited to be in the game.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I get tremendous satisfaction out of this, and I know that a lot of people are looking forward to the season starting.”
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.