Rockville Centre Little League celebrates 73 years of youth baseball


Hundreds of youth baseball players and their parents gathered in front of South Side Middle School on Saturday morning for the start of the annual Rockville Centre Little League opening day parade. Teammates celebrated the start of the 2024 spring season as they marched along Maple Avenue, towards Hickey Field on Sunrise Highway, for the start of the opening day ceremonies.

“The RVC Little League opening day and the Class of 2024 Hall of Fame induction was an exciting celebration of the past and present for baseball and softball,” Little League Commissioner Frank Keating said. “Special thanks to those who worked hard to make it possible and also to those who attended.”

Founded in 1951, the Rockville Centre Little League has continued to mentor young athletes eager to practice, learn and play our nation’s pastime for the last 73 years. Through the decades, league teams have gone on to win more than 100 district championships, 24 Nassau County championships, 20 Long Island titles and four state championships.

The opening day ceremonies were followed by the second annual RVC Little League Hall of Fame induction ceremony, recognizing 11 former players, coaches, administrators, and founders and three championship-winning teams — including the first Long Island Little League Champions in 1956, the first Metro New York State Little League Champions in 1972, and the first and only New York State Babe Ruth 13-year-old League Champions in 1974.

“The Hall of Fame celebrated founders from the 1950s, coaches from the 1950s and the 1970s, players from the 1970s, and administrators from the 1990s and 2000s,” Keating said. “Many of those inducted have passed or were not able to be with us, but their family members attended and were clearly happy and emotional.”

Honorees included players Don Pintabona and Ed Rooney — who were both in attendance — as well as Pete Gibson and Phil Schifini Jr., all four of whom played for the 1972 Metro New York State Little League champions. Rooney and Schifini also were part of the 1974 New York State Babe Ruth 13-year-old League champions.

The induction ceremony also recognized coach Joe Pette, manager of the 1956 Long Island Champions and nine-time regular season/playoff contenders, coach Phil Schifini Sr., manager of both the 1972 New York State Little League champions and the 1974 New York State Babe Ruth League champions, coach Joe Cantwell, former league president and coach of the 1972 Metro New York State Little League champions, administrator Tom Callucci, a former league president who helped launch the softball program in 1995, administrator Jim Tarpey, former league chairman and vice president, and league co-founders Ed Bligh, who served as the league’s first president from 1951 to 1954, and Tony Maeder, who served as the league’s fourth president from 1958 to 1963.

Following the presentation, Rooney, a six-time All-Star and 1978 Long Island High School Athlete of the Year, was invited to the plate to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to start the season.