Ever since town and recreation officials decided that there was a need to return to Little League baseball, after nearly two decades of playing under the banner of Amateur American Baseball Congress' Bambino baseball, the town has gone out of its way to promote the game and help the local youngsters develop their skills in the national pastime.
The latest example of that dedication to baseball comes over the next few weeks, when the newly formed North Bergen Little League will hold its first-ever Little League MVP baseball camp at the facility on 76th Street.
The camp, which will be under the guidance of professional instructor Joe Mauro, will have three sessions, Aug. 9-12, Aug. 16-19 and Aug. 23-26, daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Fridays of each week are reserved as rain dates.
Mauro, who runs the All-Pro Baseball Academy in Lyndhurst and has tutored hundreds of aspiring local baseball players over the last seven years, is excited to get the chance to bring his coaching and teaching expertise to North Bergen.
"I was asked if I could be a part of North Bergen's Little League moving in the right direction," said Mauro, who was a professional catcher for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League for two years. "I've worked with Rafael [Madieros, one of the organizers of the Little League camp] and his son Alex for the last two years. He asked if I could do him a favor and run a camp in North Bergen. I've done them before in Newark and Wallington, so I had no problem with it. I think a camp like this will be a good stepping stone for North Bergen, as they get back to Little League baseball."
North Bergen Little League President Julian Cosma feels that offering the camp to the youngsters will be a positive thing.
"Our main goal is to keep kids interested in playing baseball," Cosma said. "Even with our Little League season over, we felt that this camp would give the kids of North Bergen and neighboring towns a chance to learn about the game from professional instructors and players. The camp directors have been very helpful to give us the opportunity to hold the camp here."
Another positive aspect of the baseball camp has been the generosity of the businesses in the community. Madieros has been getting commitments from many different merchants in North Bergen and Guttenberg that have donated money in order that some underprivileged youngsters could attend the camp. Tuition for each week's session is $140, with discounts for multiple sessions.
"The businesses have been very helpful, donating money for the kids who can't afford the camp," Cosma said. "They're really going out of their way to help us out. Rafael did all the legwork in meeting with the merchants. As soon as they heard what we were doing, they were very pleased to be a part of it and wanted to get involved to help the kids."
Some of the North Bergen merchants donating money to sponsor youngsters to attend the camp include the Coach House Diner, the Jagged Edge Spa and Salon, DiClemente Contractors, the Moose Lodge and Vainieri Funeral Home.
Manhattan Jewelers in Union City and the Green Kitchen restaurant in Guttenberg have also been supportive of the MVP baseball camp.
Mauro said that the camp will feature instruction on all baseball fundamentals for youngsters ages 8 through 12.
"I've worked with a few kids from North Bergen, and I know that there are talented kids there," Mauro said. "I'm looking forward to the chance to work with those kids."
Cosma said that the initial Little League camp took a while to get started, but the response has been positive.
"Like everything else we've done, we're in the beginning stages," Cosma said. "It's basically been done on a short notice. But we really felt the need to give our kids more instruction. In terms of baseball, the township is still growing. I think this is something we will be able to offer our youngsters every summer."
Cosma said that the North Bergen Little League will also offer a fall baseball league for the first time, beginning in September. The new league will be offered to either North Bergen or Guttenberg residents, ages 9 through 11, and will have games on weekends from September through November. Registration for the new Fall Ball league will take place next month.
For more information about registration for either the MVP Little League camp or the Fall Ball League, call (201) 868-5181. For registration for the MVP Little League camp, you can also call the All-Pro Baseball Academy at (201) 935-0550.