Vol­un­teer hon­ored

Lit­tle League coach marks 40 years of ser­vice

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JON BUZBY JonBuzby@hot­mail.com

Most peo­ple don’t do any one thing for 40 years. But in 1978, Dave Mil­som’s vol­un­teer coach­ing ca­reer at Ne­wark Amer­i­can Lit­tle League be­gan. Nearly 40 years later, he’s still man­ag­ing the same team and on Mon­day night, Ne­wark Mayor Polly Sierer read a procla­ma­tion at a city coun­cil meet­ing rec­og­niz­ing Mil­som for his years of ser­vice.

“When I got a call from the mayor’s of­fice about the award, my first re­ac­tion was to say, ‘No thanks,’” Mil­som, 75, said with a laugh. “I was re­luc­tant. I’m not re­ally big on pub­lic­ity. I’m not a head­line seeker.”

Mil­som’s vol­un­teer ten­ure at Ne­wark Amer­i­can be­gan in 1978.

“When my son, Dave Jr., turned 8 years old I took him and signed him up,” Mil­som re­called. “Some­one there knew me and said, ‘There’s a guy who can coach. We need a coach.’ He re­cruited me and signed me up.”

In 1981, when his son moved onto the ma­jors di­vi­sion, Mil­som be­came the man­ager of the Delaware Tire Ori­oles. Then, when his son aged out of Lit­tle League, Mil­som de­cided to stay on as the man­ager of the Ori­oles and has served in that role ever since.

“I en­joyed do­ing it and to be hon­est with you it got, eas­ier,” Mil­som said. “The hard­est thing to do is coach your own kid. It’s hard on you and hard on your kid.”

Mil­som didn’t play or­ga­nized base­ball as a kid be­cause there was no Lit­tle League back in the 1950s. In­stead, he fell in love with the game the old fash­ioned way – play­ing in the sand­lots.

“I wasn’t very good be­cause I had a vi­sion prob­lem,” he ad­mit­ted. “It’s tough to play base­ball when you have trou­ble see­ing the ball.”

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Con­rad High School in 1959, Mil­som took a job at NVF in Ken­nett Square. He and his wife, Dot, even­tu­ally moved to Ne­wark where they raised their two chil­dren – Dave Jr. and daugh­ter Do­ria – and he made the de­ci­sion to vol­un­teer with Ne­wark Amer­i­can.

“I just en­joy it. It’s my hobby,” he said. “I like get­ting out and stay­ing ac­tive. I en­joy see­ing new kids come in and progress and grow and leave as teenagers.”

Mil­som has also served in sev­eral other vol­un­teer roles dur­ing his ten­ure.

“I’ve done just about ev­ery­thing, ex­cept be pres­i­dent,” said Mil­son, who has spent the ma­jor­ity of his 40 years also serv­ing in some role on the league board of di­rec­tors.

Vol­un­teer­ing is a com­mit­ment that of­ten brings with it fam­ily sac­ri­fices. And al­though Dot doesn’t vol­un­teer at Ne­wark Amer­i­can – “Her hob­bies are other things,” Mil­som said – she was on hand for one very spe­cial night.

“We had a game the day of our 50th an­niver­sary, and it was a week­night,” Mil­som rem­i­nisced. “I con­vinced her that af­ter 50 years we could cel­e­brate on another day. Our team mother or­ga­nized [an on-field cel­e­bra­tion] and had both of us come on the field be­fore the game. They gave us a gift card for a din­ner, flow­ers for Dot and an­nounced the an­niver­sary. That was it. Play ball!”

“We did take a long week­end and went to An­napo­lis a few days later,” he added, smil­ing.

Mil­som has seen many changes in youth base­ball over the years, but none as sig­nif­i­cant as the type of bats used to­day by kids of all ages.

“When I started we had wooden bats, and now they’ve in­volved into these su­per bats,” Mil­som ex­plained. “Lit­tle kids are hit­ting it out of the park.”

The num­ber of home runs hit this up­com­ing sea­son might de­crease be­cause the rule con­cern­ing bats has been al­tered and Mil­som, for one, is glad to see the change.

“Lit­tle League has a new rule that has banned all these high-per­for­mance bats,” he said. “Still not back to wooden, but they pretty much feel and sound like wood. It’s a safety is­sue for pitch­ers. Bat­ters hit the ball so hard, line drives hit right back at the pitcher are dan­ger­ous. It’s a ma­jor change, but I think it’s a good one.”

The other ma­jor change dur­ing his 40 years has noth­ing to do with the tech­nol­ogy of equip­ment.

“The league has shrunk,” he pointed out. “When I started, we had eight teams in the ma­jors di­vi­sion and now we are down to four. I just think there are fewer kids in the area. The kids in the de­vel­op­ments we serve have grown up and moved away.”

De­spite the de­crease in num­bers, Mil­som still finds sat­is­fac­tion in his role.

“I have en­joyed see­ing new kids come in and progress and grow and leave as teenagers,” he said with a hint of emo­tion in his voice. “I’ve seen them be­come doc­tors and lawyers and have other suc­cess­ful ca­reers.”

Mil­som has no plans of end­ing his fa­vorite vol­un­teer ac­tiv­ity any­time soon.

“It’s en­joy­able, and you meet a lot of good peo­ple,” he said. “The par­ents, play­ers, um­pires and other coaches. It’s a nice cir­cle of friends you end up mak­ing.”

And in Mil­som’s case – gen­er­a­tions of friends.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Dave Mil­som Sr. has vol­un­teered for Ne­wark Amer­i­can Lit­tle League for nearly 40 years.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.