A Baseball Ruling Creates A New Opportunity
Jul 16, 2013Posted by james

During a Little League playoff game last summer, a boy with the Brewster team of Putnam County had to leave the dugout. An opponent protested his presence since he was not a roster player, and because his wheelchair created a liability issue.

Evan Sussman has had cerebral palsy since infancy. While he and the team were disappointed by the ruling, matters have turned out just fine for him and other players.

Soon after, Evan was allowed back in the dugout. He threw out the first pitch for the team’s next game. He and his teammates, and their families, received 20 tickets to a Yankees game from the local Stop & Shop supermarket, and then they received a matching donation of tickets from the Yankees.

Before the game, Evan was on the field during batting practice. He met the players and he fired strategic questions at manager Joe Girardi. “Can you tell me why,” asked Evan about a previous game, “you decided to switch the pitcher?”

The surprises didn’t end there. Rawlings heard about the story and sent Evan a personalized glove. Some things, though, had to wait for this season.

Evan’s mom, Karen Kushnir, is a special education advisor. When this all began, she was saddened by the circumstances. Then she spoke with officials of the Brewster Little League. The conversations led to the creation of the Brewster Challenger League for special-needs players. Many parents and students who wanted to help Evan and others like him in the community contributed their time to create two Challenger League teams.

Evan, his mom and others did not become discouraged on that day when Evan had to leave the dugout. Instead, they turned a disappointing situation into a new opportunity. Now baseball is providing more children in Brewster with the opportunity to have fun.


A Pioneer Still On His Game
Jul 03, 2013Posted by james

Did you ever hear of Ossie Schectman? He’s 93 now, and he lives in a senior living community in Rockland County. He has a quick smile and is a favorite of the staff.

Ossie was a collegiate All-American basketball point guard on two NIT championship teams at Long Island University. He also is in the National Basketball Association record books, having scored, on November 1, 1946, the first basket in NBA history.

Okay, so he isn’t as familiar a name as Michael Jordon or LeBron James. But, he should be, or at least he should be remembered and highly regarded by those who have come to play after him.

Ossie was “a tireless worker who drove fiercely, passed smoothly and set up the plays,” wrote Arthur Daley of The New York Times when he described Schectman’s role in a victory over DePaul at Madison Square Garden before a crowd of 18,318. Daley continued: “With the hard driving Ossie Schectman blazing a trail the Blackbirds unleashed a sizzling rally that sent them ahead…LoBello was the high scorer with 12, but Dolly King with 11 and Schectman were the real stars.”

Ossie received similar kudos for leading LIU over Loyola during 1939 and Ohio University during 1941 in NIT championship games. He was a baseball player, too, and he had a tryout with the New York Giants. Since the NBA didn’t exist at the time, he first played for the Philadelphia Sphas (South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) and for a semipro baseball team on Long Island. None of this, though, led to lasting fame and fortune. With a wife and child to support, his primary source of income came from working in New York’s Garment District.

But, after World War II, he did get to play for the Knicks when they were in the Basketball Association of America (pre-NBA) and he finished third one season in the league in assists. As already noted, he scored the NBA’s first points.

While none of his hard work led to a lot of money, he isn’t bitter. He still loves the game and recalls that he had a great life that just happened to include sports.

It’s great to be involved in sports during our youth and young adult days. The structure, discipline and competition teach us a lot about life. A chosen few are destined for fame and fortune. Many others do quite well in the professional, collegiate, or high school game as coaches, instructors, or in management. Even more like me find other ways to remain in the game while channeling our sports experiences into successful business careers.

When all is done, let’s hope that we all can be like Ossie and reflect on a great life that just happened to include sports.