If you mention Edgewood Little League (ELL) most people today assume that you are talking about the “Eastern Regional Little League Complex” but to be more accurate, the ELL was founded in 1959. The following gentlemen were the initial board of directors and officers of the newly formed league for boys. Luke M. Dunn President, John Gerzanick Vice President, Douglass Wooley Secretary, William Connolly Treasurer and Gary Stange was the Player Agent.
At that time Title 9 was not enacted and no girls were allowed to play let alone register for Little League Baseball.
The league consisted of 5 teams known as the Athletics coached by Norman R. Fournier (2012 Bristol Sports Hall of Fame Inductee), the Orioles coached by Lester Albee, the Pirates coached by Ronald Yacawyck, the Senators coached by John Sims and the Phillies coached by Roy Jacques. We believe these coaches were also part of the board of directors.
Each team had 15 players and the Minor league consisted of 40 players. There was no registration charge to players who wanted to play for the Edgewood Little League.
The Bristol Board of Education did own the land that Edgewood Little League played on since their first chartering with Little League in 1959. The land was considered wetlands so there was not much use for it as far as the school was concerned. The current field where the Senior and Junior League now plays adjacent to the small commuter parking lot, we believe, was owned by the Bristol Water Department.
In 1964 the field that would become known as Breen Field had its orientation altered to move home plate from first base to its present position of home plate at Breen.
The Giamatti Center was originally to be constructed in the Pine Lake area of Bristol. The site work for Pine Lake came in at a cost of over 7 million dollars. That was only for the site, not including the construction of any buildings. Dr. Creighton Hale, then the President and CEO of Little League International, indicated to Mayor John Leone that another site had to be found or Little League would have to consider another site in Connecticut or another state in the 11-state region to construct the East Regional Center. Lenny Valentino, then ELL President, suggested Edgewood for consideration.
Mayor Leone “negotiated” with the Board of Education and we believe the Water Department, to transfer the land described to the City of Bristol. As part of the agreement with Bristol and Little League International, the 17 acres of land was transferred to Little League International as its owner. The contract with Bristol, also allowed the Edgewood Little League use of the property as long as they remained a Chartered Little League with the National Organization.
As for the first female, from 1951 through 1973, Little League was for boys only. In 1974, Little League rules were revised to allow participation by girls in the baseball organization following the result of a lawsuit filed by the National Organization for Women on behalf of the first female to play Little League, Maria Pepe. Maria played for the Hoboken Little League in New Jersey. Kathy Houston was the first female player to play for Edgewood circa, 1974.
Leon Breen was a constant financial benefactor of Edgewood Little League and the name sake for “Breen Field”.
The gentlemen pictured above: (l to r) Dan Sutula (project foreman), Cliff Choate, Al D’Amato and Bob Fiondella were responsible for the fundraising that led to building the Edgewood concession building in 1979. Al D’Amato, a long time board member served as Treasurer and in 1991 he took over as President. Bob Fiondella, served in many capacities, the last being President and in 2015 he was elected into the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame.