The Bayonne Little League season ended on June 15, with Hudacko’s Pharmacy defeating Houlihan’s in two games at Dennis P. Collins Park. This season, one team, and its nine-year-old star pitcher etched their names into the city’s baseball history as the first in 65 years to go undefeated and win the championship.
Logan Chi, a fourth-grade student who attends Horace Mann School, pitched a perfect game earlier in the season, striking out 14 batters throughout five innings (the game was cut short due to time constraints). According to people familiar with Bayonne’s Little League history, Logan may be only the third to pitch a perfect game. What’s more, his performance helped the team go undefeated, winning the championship after the team won only one game last year by forfeit.
Little League Baseball is a long-held tradition in Bayonne. After all, legend has it that the game was invented only a few miles north. Every year, elementary-school-age kids from across the city compete at the picturesque Dennis P. Collins Park, where the Bayonne Bridge is so close it could catch a home run.
The league is supported by local businesses that sponsor teams. Unlike professional sports, or even high school and college sports, winning is not as important as the life experience kids get when they come together to work toward a common goal. Of course, the common goal is to win but it’s not the sponsors’ main concern.
“Winning makes it more fun, but as a sponsor you’re not like an owner, picking players and coaches. You just want to give back to the community and keep kids out of trouble.”said Pete Halecky, owner of Hudacko’s Pharmacy, which has been sponsoring Little League teams since Halecky’s grandfather, John Hudacko, owned the store. “I’m glad it happened to us,” Halecky said.“It’s something Logan will never forget, and he should be proud of himself.”
“The chemistry of this team on and off the field has been fantastic.” – Jennifer Chi
Jennifer Chi, Logan’s mother, said that Logan is, indeed, proud. His Little League team’s success extends far beyond its 18-0 record. According to his mom, he was also hungry. His first words coming off the field after the win were, “I am hungry. Can I get a hot dog?”
“The chemistry of this team on and off the field has been fantastic,” Chi said. “Each of them finding a space on the team to grow and learn. Friendship took off from day one and made this team the team they are today.”
“I’ve been coaching for 16 years, and this is a very special group of kids,” said Mike Boehm, who coached Hudacko’s this season and last. “Everyone was so excited.”
Boehm said there was much excitement during Logan’s pitching game, with his teammates staying true to classic baseball superstitions, avoiding sitting next to Logan in the dugout for fear of jinxing him. “As it was going on, it was almost like the major league,”said Boehm. “The whole team was making plays for him. They all worked together.”
Support from parents and coaches from every team has been outstanding, said Chi, and contributed to the players’ growth. That Logan’s father, John, also coached must have made it that much more fun for the Chi family.
“I have loved every minute. I have never seen a group of parents with so much support for every single kid that entered onto the field, whether it was their kid or not,” said Jennifer Chi. “It truly has been an amazing season.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at email@example.com.