Niagara Falls Reporter
Home | Archive / Search
MAY 19 - MAY 26, 2015

Will Dyster Move to Cut Baseball Diamonds To Make Room for Cricket at Hyde Park?

By Mike Hudson & Frank Parlato

May 19, 2015

This aerial view of Hyde Park where the Babe Ruth little league has played for the last 50 years seems to be the location that Mayor Dyster prefers for a new cricket field. Unless Dyster finds another location for either the little league of the cricket league, it may require eliminating several diamonds now used by the Babe Ruth teams to make room for the cricket field.
On opening day of the Babe Ruth Little League 2105 season - Saturday May 16 - the Mayor was late in arriving. This was the second year in a row he missed the ceremonies. After he arrived Mayor Dyster told league president Jeff Cafarella that Babe Ruth might have to make room to accommodate a cricket field.
"The Mayor said 'they are coming to Hyde Park,'" Cafarella told the Reporter.
Before the Mayor left he stopped to pose with little league players and later posted them on his Facebook page.
Poster for WNY Cricket League
A cricket field is a large circular or oval-shaped grassy ground. There are no fixed dimensions for the field but its diameter varies between 449 ft. and 492 ft., in the center of which is a flat strip of ground called a pitch.

In the game of cricket, the cricket pitch consists of the central strip of the cricket field between the wickets — 1 chain or 22 yards (20.12 m) long and 10 feet (3.05 m) wide. The surface is flat and normally covered with extremely short grass though this grass is soon removed by wear at the ends of the pitch.

Parents take pride in watching their children play.
Two cricket teams from the newly formed Western New York Cricket League.
Council member Kristen Grandinetti substituted for the mayor who was expected to attend opening day at Babe Ruth Little League. Grandinetti apologized for the mayor's unavoidable absence. The mayor arrived later with a political candidate who he introduced to the little league parents as a candidate he was supporting.
In the primer “Cricket Pitch Maintenance” one learns that “A cricket pitch should ideally be even throughout, with no undulations or depressions; well consolidated, giving good and appropriate ball bounce; covered with a dense sward of desirable grasses that have good root density and depth. In addition, a well prepared pitch should be able to withstand three, five-hour games.”
“Most users wish to have a first class cricket pitch, however, the true cost in materials, machinery and especially the skills of a qualified and experienced groundsman do not come cheap,” the book states.
A complex set of instructions on daily rollings, mowings, chemical applications, scarification, drag brushing and fertilizer applications during the off season are required.
The Department of Public Works might wish to subscribe to “The Groundsman,” a monthly British magazine that deals solely with cricket field maintenance.
Note: Generally groundsmen mow the pitch on each day of a match on which play is expected to take place. Once a game has begun, mowings take place under the supervision of the umpires.
While garbage flows over at Hyde Park, the little league officials are told they can't clean it up since that would take away work from city union workers.

The Niagara Falls Reporter has learned that Mayor Paul A. Dyster is considering a plan to build a cricket field in Hyde Park, the city's largest park.
While nothing is formalized yet, the mayor has been quietly organizing a plan to construct a regulation-sized cricket field that, depending upon where it is located, might require eliminating some of the youth baseball diamonds where the Babe Ruth Little League Baseball teams practice and play.

The plan has yet to be announced to the general public, but acting on a tip, the Reporter contacted Department of Public Works Acting Director John Caso about a plan to bring cricket to the city.

Caso confirmed that the mayor asked him to look into building a cricket field at Hyde Park or possibly 61st St. Caso stressed that nothing would be done until the city's Little Leagues were consulted.

"At this point, I have only been asked to research where the field could be sited and how it could be installed and maintained," Caso said.

The Babe Ruth Little League has been playing organized youth baseball at Hyde Park for the past half century.

League President Jeff Cafarella said that Dyster also mentioned the cricket field to him, after showing up late for the league's Opening Day festivities on May 16, and his comment suggested that Dyster has already earmarked the area where the little league plays.

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

Cafarella said he started to question the mayor about specifics, but Dyster cut him off and introduced a female political candidate he was escorting that day.

"I knew then he didn't give a sh-t about Babe Ruth," Cafarella said. "He was busy introducing the candidate. I forget her name."

In recent years, Cafarella has been proactive in trying to get the city to maintain the baseball diamonds in Hyde Park. Cafarella said the Babe Ruth League uses all seven diamonds during the week for practice and play Saturday double headers on the two featured diamonds and the
league would be deeply hampered if they had to sacrifice any of the diamonds.

A regulation cricket field is circular, between 450 and 500 feet in diameter, and its footprint, if located at Hyde Park where the little league diamonds are, would, judging from aerial photographs and maps, most likely necessitate removing two or perhaps three of the currently existing baseball diamonds.

"It's kind of upsetting," Cafarella said. "For the past two years, we have been trying to get the city to make some much needed improvements at Hyde Park.

They don't want to help us, but right away they want to make way for a cricket league. That's the discouraging part."

Niagara Falls resident Howie Ewing, a longtime supporter of the league, was clearly upset by Dyster's "cavalier attitude" toward the 50-year tradition Babe Ruth baseball brings to Hyde Park.

"I don't know how many times we have to get punched in the stomach by this guy before we fight back," he said. "Is he going to seek Council approval? He waits until Opening Day to spring this on us at the 11th hour."

Except for the United States and Canada, the sport of cricket is hugely popular around the world in lands formerly colonized by the British, who invented it some four centuries ago.

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players each on a field at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. The game is played by 120 million players in many countries, making it the world's second most popular sport.

Its rules are complex and Americans, more or less, simplified it into baseball, a game that is still too slow paced for many.

 Cricket matches are typically six hours or more long and championship or Test matches may take as long as five days to complete.

The greatest concentration of cricket fans can be found on the Indian subcontinent, and most cricket enthusiasts in Western New York are originally from India.

The Reporter contacted Amol Salunkhe, the Executive Vice President of  Buffalo Niagara Cricket Club, who confirmed members of his team approached the city, that Mayor Dyster has been in touch with members of the team and that Hyde Park was mentioned as a possible location for their cricket field.

"We filled out an application with the city saying we wanted a facility in Niagara Falls," Salunkhe said. "We are requesting the ground for practice and to host matches against teams from the greater WNY region…. We would like the authorities to help us in our endeavors." The Buffalo Niagara Cricket Club is comprised of Indian American men, in their 20's-through 40-plus with, incidentally, impressive educational backgrounds.

Of the 11 team members, all have advanced degrees: one is an MD, four are PHD's, three are engineers and three have Masters Degrees in Computer Science.

Mayor Dyster also holds a PHD in education.

Salunkhe, who works as Chief Technology Officer for Integral Information Systems of Buffalo, said that the Buffalo Niagara Cricket Club "has taken the lead (to) promote leather ball cricket in the Western New York area and hopes to see participation from teams from Niagara Falls, Lockport, Buffalo, Rochester, Olean, Syracuse, Corning, Binghamton" which Salunkhe points out, will bring players and their families into the city who will shop and dine here.

The team's president, a central figure in the Niagara Falls health care field, is Dr. Nythappan Anand, a board certified neurologist affiliated with Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital.

Besides the concerns of losing baseball diamonds by those who have used the park since they were children, a number of residents are commenting on how their own desires for new amenities at the park were ignored as the mayor "panders to a new elite and wealthy group of potential campaign donors" as one local resident said.

An inspection of Hyde Park shows that it has a wide array of activities available from indoor hockey, an Olympic size swimming pool, trials for nature walks, fishing and kayaking on Hyde Park Lake, and 27 holes of golf.

Yet there are some amenities conspicuous by their absence. First and foremost is the absence of basketball courts and it has been a bone of contention for a number of residents who have petitioned the city for years, with local activist Ken Hamilton leading the charge.

There is also no soccer field.

Some of the amenities are suffering from neglect. The volleyball sand pit is inadequate and the rose garden died a long time ago, even though the city's website still touts it as the perfect spot for a wedding day photo op.
Monuments stand to trees planted 70 or more years ago as memorials to various citizens but, like the citizens themselves, the trees are now gone. The grass on the lawn bowling field is in apparent need of fungicide spray, and picnic shelters, restrooms and playground equipment all suffer from a lack of routine maintenance.

And Jeff Cafarella would be the first to tell you about the spotty condition of the seven baseball diamonds used by the Babe Ruth League.

"The diamonds are not maintained," Cafarella said. "Where the dirt and the grass meet, the dirt has settled and creates uneven lips where kids can trip and balls bounce in unexpected ways. Two of the diamonds are in such rough condition that they can only be used for practice. Three diamonds do not have dugouts with fencing for players safety. Some of those line drive foul balls can come at you pretty fast and it's not always easy to keep eight year olds attentive.

Ewing, reinforcing Cafarella's position, told the Reporter, "They can't even keep the place clean and they won't let us clean it either since that is a union worker's job, so garbage piles up and maintenance deferred. Now Dyster wants to build a cricket field by taking away from the children who play at the park?"

When asked about the concerns of the little league making way for a cricket field, Salunkhe said, "I think there is room for both (baseball and cricket) to coexist."

In the end, someone, perhaps the mayor, will have to balance the interests of the little league, the cricket league, and others who also want equally eager attendance for their day in the park.





Will Dyster Move to Cut Baseball Diamonds To Make Room for Cricket at Hyde Park?
Niagara Falls and India
The President of the WNY Cricket League Comments On Bringing Cricket to Niagara Falls
As Evidence Shows Dyster Knew Real Cause of 72nd Street Water Freeze All Along But Denied It
Time Line Proves 72nd St. Residents Needlessly Suffered with Frozen Pipes in 2015
Motorola Transmits Phony Message to Niagara County
But radio goes bonk when dumb luck (and Harris Corp) step in
Hamister Hotel Still In Process At City Hall
Dyster Decision on Anello Verdict Isn't Very Appealing for the Taxpayer
Engineering Department Overtime Blues Sound Off Key to Trained Ears
NTCC Funded by Locals, Works to Enrich State, Delaware North, Glynn
Dyster Promises More Asphalt in Jayne Park "Unveiling" Ceremony
Dyster's Parking Meter Plan Another Example of Government by Wishing
Tell Mayor to Park his Plan Somewhere Else, a Warning to the City Council
Only in NT - Time for Some Answers at Buffalo Bolt
Riverdale Cemetery to Hold Annual Memorial Day Observance Saturday
A New Niagara Putting the People of Niagara Falls First
Issues, Yes I Have Issues!
Let's Talk About Baltimore
City Hall Jokes
Letchworth gets New Nature Center

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