After dedicating more than four decades of his life to coaching in Oceanside Little League, Mike Levitan’s name will now christen a ballpark in the hamlet he has spent so many years coaching in.
On Nov. 5, Oceanside Park Field No. 3 was named in Levitan’s honor.
“It’s something you think about every once in a while and you never really think it’s going to happen to you,” Levitan said, reflecting on the honor. “It was something — it was hard to put into words.”
Some of Levitan’s former coaches, peers and players attended a ceremony unveiling a plaque for the ballfield along with Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito. Levitan, 69, played in Oceanside Little League from 1955 to 1962 and has coached from 1972 to the present day. He was president of the Oceanside Federal League from 1977-79, founded the South Shore Sharks travel baseball team in 1978 and served on the Oceanside Board of Directors from 1980 until 2015.
“Anybody who commits most of their life to the children of any community definitely deserves to be recognized,” D’Esposito said. “I really think that every time that there’s someone, if they’re willing to give the time to really mold our youth into good people, they should be recognized.”
Field No. 3 is now undergoing renovations, but when it is complete, Levitan’s name will greet those who come to play the sport he loves. Tom Collins, who nominated Levitan for the honor, said that Levitan is the “main source” for baseball history and has long been passionate about local history and the tradition of the sport.
“His work throughout the decades is legendary,” he said. “He is as vibrant now as he was back then. … He deserves to have a plaque to preserve his name in Oceanside history.”
Levitan said the connection to his players is what he has enjoyed the most about coaching. He noted that the very first player he coached, Jim “Jimbo” Ricker, was in attendance to see him receive the honor, which he said was very special to him. He added that he often spends Christmas with the families of former players and has coached two generations of athletes. “I always say when I hit a third generation, I’m going to stop,” he said with a laugh.
Levitan spent most of his life in Oceanside and then played center field for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and then decided to get into coaching. Helping mold young athletes is something he has cherished.
“Working with a kid who possibly can’t do something and then they work on it and then they’re in a game and they do it, and it’s successful and they turn and look over and they smile,” Levitan said. “When you get that, that’s what it’s all about.”