Little League Prepares To “Light Things Up” With Fundraiser

The Manchester Little League’s facility on Ridgeway Boulevard features five ball fields, one of which is Joe Carter Stadium named after the top sponsor of the league. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  MANCHESTER – The Little League season may be over but supporters of the Manchester Little League (MLL) which marked its 60th anniversary this year, are invited to “light things up” at their upcoming Gift Auction.

  The rain or shine event will run from 5 to 9 p.m. on September 9 and has no entry fee. It will be held at the league’s Pavilion at 2425 Ridgeway Boulevard. Prizes include a Yeti cooler, a Solo Stove Bonfire, as well as a 50/50 raffle, a free MLL 2024 registration, gift cards for local businesses and a lot more. You preorder mini charcuterie boards and the event is BYOB.

  Fundraising has always been an important part of the work done by the League’s adult members, MLL Board member Sandy Drake said. She credited Joe Carter’s generosity and noted that his late daughter Carrie Ann “who died of cancer was one of the first girls to come through the program here. Joe Carter is one of our most loyal supporters. Tri-State, that family donates a lot to us as well.”

Mason’s Alley provides some all-star history of the league noting some famous tournaments. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  During a tour of the facility provided to The Manchester Times, Drake pointed out some of the various expansion projects that were accomplished through fundraising efforts. She noted sponsors like Hesse Construction “they helped us do the field and do the stone walls.”

  She also noted the many supporters who “come out and help. This is what helps us keep our costs down to probably be the lowest cost for the kids to play which is so important.”

  The league’s club house features many photographs, trophies and other historical artifacts that serve to remind the players and organization leaders of the six-decade heritage of the ball club.

  “We meet once a month with all our Board members to go over what is going on, what’s the plan to coordinate tournament schedules for the season,” Drake said.

  “The town helps us maintain the fields. They cut the grass and pick up the trash for us. The field looks very professional. We host a home run derby for District 18 because we have the best complex in the county,” she added.

  The 2020-2022 pandemic impacted the league but “we still played. For those that didn’t feel comfortable playing they just didn’t. We made sure we had a good sanitation system. They wore masks although they didn’t have to if they were outside,” Drake added.

  Rich Zingaro has served as president of the league for the last 19 years. His children came through the program as well. “I have a wonderful group of volunteers.” There are nine members on MLL’s executive board but a regular Board as well.

A Monument wall features various Manchester Little League organization members whose efforts and continued work are honored as supporter of the year on an annual basis. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

 “We have 30 board members. That is one of the things that make this work, most Leagues might have six or seven on their board, but we have many members and everyone does a little bit and that helps significantly,” Zingaro said. “I had two kids on the team who are older now and have their own kids.”

  “It is a great place to come to,” Board member Mitch Kutchens said. He has been with the League for 24 years. “Everyone loves this place” he said regarding the Charles J Hesse III two-story indoor training facility that opened in 2010. MLL moved from a field on Wilbur Avenue to its current 25-acre property 30 years ago.

  “It is all about the kids,” Kutchens said. He serves as an umpire and part of the equipment committee.

  Coming up in October, MLL will host a One Pitch Softball fundraiser for a local family in need. “Each year we pick a family for a fundraising softball tournament here. One year a local State Police Trooper who had been in a bad car accident was aided through this annual event,” Drake said.

A large stone wall used for handball is popular among Little League players. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “Everyone puts their heart out in here and when our kids aged out, we stayed and that is basically what we have on our board are those whose kids have aged out of the program. It is hard to leave, you don’t want to leave because what you started you want to maintain,” Drake added.

  Kutchens and Drake showed off Carter’s Field on the property. “We have five fields altogether. We have a major league field, it used to be softball but that has fallen here on the wayside but we still have girls that play but not softball, baseball primarily. The teams are co-ed. My daughter came through the softball program here.”

  “Rich Zingaro’s field is Field 2. His heart is here as well,” Drake added. There is also Hesse Field where kids can go to play t-ball or whiffle ball.

  Deceased supporters are remembered on the field that features an area with memorial stones. Trees were also planted on the field to honor those who have contributed to the League’s success. “These trees are quite an honor to those who get them. There is a lot of meaning to these trees,” Kutchens said.

  “The core of Little League is about relationships and the friendships you make for a lifetime and town unity,” Kutchens added.

A Manchester Little League volunteer waters one of the five ball fields at their facility on Ridgeway Boulevard. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “It is just amazing what history we have here but we couldn’t do it without our sponsors,” Drake added.

  For further information about MLL call 732-341-8320, e-mail or visit

*Editors Note: This story ran in the September 9th print edition of The Manchester Times. We incorrectly identified Carrie Ann as Marion by mistake. We apologize for the error and we apologize to the Carter family.