SPFYBA and the FYO Merge to form Scotch Plains-Fanwood Baseball League, Open Registration for Inaugural Season
After operating as separate leagues for more than a half-century, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Youth Baseball Association (SPFYBA) and the Fanwood Youth Organization (FYO) have merged.
The combined organization, now known as the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Baseball League (SPFBL), has opened registration for the spring for players from pre-K through 12th grade. The divisions are T-Ball/Rookies (K/Pre-K), Minors A (1st grade), Minors AA (2nd grade), Minors AAA (grades 3-4), Majors Division (grades 5-6), Seniors Division (grades 7-9), and Prep Division (grades 10-12).
"The leadership of both FYO and SPFYBA are firmly convinced that a new single entity baseball league will offer significant benefits to the 1,200+ local children and their families who participate in organized baseball each year," said Neil Kaufman, co-president of the new SPFBL and former SPFYBA president. "A unified league that serves one constituency will create more efficiency, allow for better resource planning and sharing, offer cost savings, and will eliminate the need for parents to choose between two largely identical town baseball programs."
"Ultimately, SPFBL is committed to offering a league that holds high the values of good sportsmanship, fair play, honesty and loyalty, and most importantly, fun," said John Quinones, co-president of the SPFBL and former FYO President. "Both FYO and SPFYBA were committed to the very same things, and to that end, there is no change in the overall philosophy of the new, combined league."
Merging the two leagues was an idea that had been discussed informally over the past years. Both organizations had a proud history of serving our community’s youth well for a combined 110+ years. Both leagues had core ideals and principles that each felt differentiated it from the other. However, over recent years, it became apparent that both organizations shared a common goal and were much more philosophically aligned than previously thought.
"During preliminary meetings between FYO and SPF, it became apparent that maintaining separate, parallel leagues served little purpose and was actually counterproductive," Quinones said. "Combining the two leagues would result in greater standing in the community (i.e. a larger organization), allow us to maximize our limited volunteer staff and field availability, and provide an opportunity for our youth to play in a single league."
The leadership of the two leagues held a number of meetings to discuss and work through the merger, which was eventually approved by both Boards in the fall. Registration opened just before Christmas and will continue through Thursday, January 31st through both former league sites (www.fyobaseball.org and www.spfyba.org). Registrations made after January 31st will be charged a $20.00 late fee per player until February 15th, when SPFBL registration will officially close.
"The one thing that we find over and over again no matter how many times we look at it is that when you ask the kids what they want from their baseball league, regardless of their age or playing ability level, it’s always that they just want to play baseball with their friends. To the kids, it’s that simple," Kaufman said.
Having a larger number of players will open up the opportunity to field multiple "A" and "B" level travel teams for several age groups. Both leagues were in the process of expanding travel opportunities for baseball-loving youth players at all playing levels. This trend will continue, and is another philosophy both leagues had in common.
"So to be clear, there will be no contraction in the travel program. Actually, quite the opposite will occur," said SPFBL travel director: Bill Gale. "In this first year, we’re already seeing record signups for the travel program, which may allow the league to put forward up to 4 or 5 teams in an age group. The number of ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams will be dictated by the overall talent level of the players in that grade level."
The emphasis of our travel program will be on developing players so that they all leave the travel season better players than when they arrived," Gale added.
"I think it's great that all the kids in town will get to play together in one league, just like it is for all the other sports," said Tom Baylock, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School varsity head coach and player and coach development director for SPFBL. "The merger is a good thing. It will be a lot of fun for them to play against their friends.