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Vernon's Little League had a humble beginning in
The Mount Vernon Little League was organized and
founded by Andy Karl in 1949. Karl, a major
league pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies,
founded the four original teams with the help of
longtime Mount Vernon resident, Steve Acunto and
John Branca, the brother of legendary Brooklyn
Dodgers pitcher, Ralph Branca.
Acunto, a former professional boxer and founder of the
Association for the Improvement of Boxing, Inc.,
who still resides in Mount Vernon, was one of
the pioneers of the league and managed one of
the first four teams. In the picture (left) he
is shown with Rocky Marciano, co-founder of
American Association for the Improvement of
Boxing, Inc. Soon after the picture was taken,
Marciano was killed in a plane crash.
"I had loved the game since playing at St. Francis
Xavier as a youngster, so managing one of the
first four teams was gratifying and a worthwhile
endeavor. We originally played our games at
Longfellow School Field," said Acunto.
At one point in the early 1950's, the National
Little League required Mount Vernon to have four
teams for every five-thousand population in the
city, causing a big monetary dilemma for the
league. Fortunately, a group known as The
Little League Team Mothers got involved in
helping to raise money for umpires, uniforms,
baseballs, etc. They also held bridge parties
and other fundraisers, some held at O'Connor's
Restaurant, located on Third Street at the time.
With the expansion of the teams, new playing fields
were needed. The new sites included: Hutchinson
Field, A. B. Davis Field, and a few games were
played at Nichols Junior High School. Later on,
at Baker's Field, they had four more diamonds.
Baker's Field was lost when the city had Mount
Vernon High School built there in 1963.
"The community spirit and sponsorships of the clubs were
really amazing, as were the parades from the top
of Gramatan Avenue to Third Street," said
The need for additional room for a Pony League, an
offspring of Little League (ages 12-15) took
place when Brush Park, a large area which had
become unsightly, as a depository of old cars
and junk of every kind, was cleaned up.
On Acunto's team in 1955 was the son of Judge Harold
Woods, a Mount Vernon resident and
African-American. His son, Lance Woods, was one
of a handful of African-Americans kids playing
in the league in the early 1950's.
Saturday, April 19, 2008, over 300 Little League
players marched into Brush Park to take part in
a classic slice of Americana — 2008 Opening Day
ceremonies of the Mount Vernon Little League.
Those who attended that year's Opening day
ceremonies witnessed history in the making,
since the fields at Brush Park were named “The
Ken Webster Fields at Brush Park.”
Thanks to the effort and sacrifice of the original
organizers of the
Mount Vernon Little League, Mount Vernon has one
of the most successful
all of Westchester county.
(top right) shown with his team in 1955. Lance
Woods is standing in front of him.
Steve Acunto (top
left) shown with his team in 1954