Slo-pitch softball in Batavia and the surrounding area was never more popular than from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, but it has made a bit of a comeback thanks to the efforts of Michael Jamil and friends.
Time and again during his three-year stint as leader of the Batavia Softball League at Kibbe Park, Jamil has approached City Council, requesting financial and moral support for the summer rec program, which has grown to 33 teams.
He spoke to the board again on Monday night, respectfully expressing his thanks for what has been done so far and his hope that Council would appropriate some money for the field’s upkeep.
“I have faith that everything is going to work out … little by little I’ll take what I can get,” he said. “We’re bringing hundreds of people to the area.”
Jamil said he understands that the Kibbe Park ball diamond hasn’t been a priority for the past 25 years, but he said the influx of new players should warrant a change in Council’s viewpoint. He said he is hoping the City will provide material (sand, clay) to put on the field to make it level, especially after it rains.
After Jamil’s brief comments, Sid Lovell of Medina, director of the Orleans and Genesee county districts of the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association, addressed Council.
“He (Jamil) should be congratulated,” Lovell said. “Mike has put his whole heart and soul into this effort – getting 33 teams last year – and he looks to have as many this year. (The league) brings many fans, followers, wives, families and friends … and provides some movement commercially in the area.”
Council put off making any monetary commitments (it has a list of requested equipment and material costs), but will take a look at it during budget workshops.
At least one council member is in Jamil’s corner. John Canale said he fondly remembers the heyday of softball.
“Mike has approached us quite a few times, and it really hasn’t hit home,” Canale said. “But as a spectator, it drew me there … when players would go to Big Daddy’s (Ale House on Main Street) and to Sunny’s after the games. It was a big social event afterwards.”
Canale said that “traffic does benefit us and supports local businesses, so let’s take a serious look at this, and really dive into that. In the long run, it will help the professional side of baseball. Good for you, Mike.”