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Field named in honor of legendary Island Park coach

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Weather conditions may not have been ideal, but that didn’t stop Island Park Little Leaguers from playing at the newly christened John “Jack” Leddy Memorial Field last Saturday.

The day marked the inaugural games played at Shell Creek Field after it was renamed in honor of the late IPLL icon, a longtime league coach, leader and president.

“Whether as a coach, board member, district representative or league president, Jack Leddy’s spirit embodied the core principles of Little League — character, courage and loyalty — and through his actions, he instilled those principles in the players and coaches whom he served as a leader,” the IPLL said in a statement. “We congratulate the Leddy family on this well-deserved accolade and thank the Town of Hempstead for honoring Jack Leddy, and look forward to the first game played on the newly dedicated Jack Leddy Field at Shell Creek.”

Leddy began coaching in 1968 and a year later served as the Island Park representative to New York District 30, which became Little League International. In 1970, he became the IPLL president while also serving 30 years as administrator of District 30, which encompasses Little Leagues in Oceanside, Rockville Centre, Lynbrook, Long Beach/Lido Beach, Freeport, Baldwin and East Rockaway, and he was the liaison to the Eastern Region of Little League International.

The renaming of the field in Leddy’s honor came after Hempstead officials voted on it. Town Supervisor Don Clavin and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who lives in Island Park, attended Saturday’s ceremony.

“We’re proud to join with the Island Park Little League and the family of the late local legend John Leddy, to honor his memory at a ballfield where memories will be made for years to come,” Clavin said.

D’Esposito lauded Leddy for his passion and hard work. “The Island Park Little League is still going strong today because of the leadership and commitment of John Leddy,” D’Esposito stated. “The Town of Hempstead is proud to join with John’s family and local little leaguers to dedicate this Shell Creek Park facility as John ‘Jack’ Leddy Memorial Field.”

Alongside his wife, Carol, also known as “Mrs. Little League,” Leddy kept the Little League afloat in Island Park for many years. Their dedication helped the league grow.

“The Island Park Little League is proud and grateful to have this honor bestowed on a man that is considered the cornerstone of our foundation,” the IPLL said in a statement. “Jack Leddy gave selflessly to the children of our community for years, and was respected and revered by his players and peers. Many of our past players that were coached by Jack — some now with grandchildren of their own in the league — will undoubtedly share in the pride and joy we feel, as they knew the man and experienced his enthusiasm and dedication to the sport of baseball and the kids that played it.”

When the announcement of the honor was made last December, Thomas Leddy, one of John and Carol’s five children, said the family was proud of the designation. “It was a passion and a love for my father to see the kids play ball,” Thomas said. “He was involved in Little League for 30 years and was all in on it, in addition to working a full-time job six days a week.”

Tony Bellissimo contributed to this story.