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JUNE 9 - JUNE 17, 2015

To Cricket or Not to Cricket,
Now That Really is a Question!

By Mike Hudson

JUNE 9, 2015

Babe Ruth often posed with children.
Mayor Paul Dyster poses with children who are in the Babe Ruth little league and posted it on his Facebook page.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster wrote an op-ed for the Niagara Gazette this week in which he challenged the veracity of a recent news feature in the Niagara Falls Reporter concerning his sudden concern for the English sport of cricket.

“Someone decided to start a rumor that we wanted to take facilities away from the Little Leagues to use them for cricket. That’s silly. Why would we want to do that?” Dyster wrote.

In our coverage of the matter, we made it clear that we thought taking facilities away from the Little Leagues and using them for cricket was silly as well.

We asked, quite openly, why Dyster might want to do that. But by the time our article came out, the cricket vs. youth baseball controversy had already advanced far beyond the stage of a rumor.

It began on Opening Day for Niagara Falls Babe Ruth League play at Hyde Park on May 16. League President Jeff Cafarella said that, after arriving late and missing the opening ceremonies, the mayor approached him.

Cafarella said that Dyster told him that the league “may have to make room” for a new cricket field at Hyde Park.

“We’re not going to get rid of Babe Ruth baseball, that’s for sure,” Cafarella remembered the mayor saying. “But they (the newly formed cricket league) need a place to play.”

This newspaper contacted the city’s Acting Public Works Director John Caso, who said he had indeed been asked by Dyster what it would take to set up a cricket field at Hyde Park or perhaps elsewhere.

We then contacted Amol Salunkhe, vice president of the Buffalo-Niagara Cricket Club, who said that the league had submitted an application for a cricket field.

Dyster returned the call, and that Hyde Park was discussed as a possible location for play.

A cricket field is as big as two baseball diamonds, and all of the baseball diamonds at Hyde Park are used regularly, as they have been for the half century that organized youth baseball has been an institution here.

Clearly, more than rumor was afoot.

In any event, public outrage – as gauged by radio call-in show commentators and various Niagara Falls forum pages on Facebook – came swiftly.

Few thought this was a good idea, and more were upset that they had to learn about in the pages of this newspaper, rather than by the more normal channel of the elected official in question, Dyster, simply telling them what he planned to do.

Dyster’s op-ed accused us of playing “silly season” politics – echoing a Reporter headline of a week earlier – and referred to comments made by the campaign chairman on one of his opponents.

Those comments did not appear in this newspaper.

There was absolutely nothing “political” about our coverage of this latest crashingly boneheaded idea to emerge from the complicated mind of Paul Dyster.

In any event, if his writing is to be believed, he no longer wants to eliminate youth baseball diamonds at Hyde Park in order to make room for a cricket field.

If he wins reelection in November, the idea may come up again, just as the urbanization of Jayne Park on Cayuga Island has been resurrected.

If the coverage by this newspaper had anything to do with the preservation of the baseball diamonds for another season at least though, we’ll take satisfaction in a job well done.






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Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina