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Franklin Township Baseball League Holds Delayed Season-Opening Ceremony

The Franklin Township Baseball League honored the memory of 13-year-old Andrew Russoniello, who was killed in an auto accident in August 2016.


It was later than usual, but the Franklin Township Baseball League was able to hold its season-opening ceremony on April 22.

It was an abbreviated ceremony, held under threatening skies. While there wasn’t the usual parade up Franklin Boulevard from the Pine Grove Manor School to the baseball complex on DeKalb Street, there was a mini parade of the teams, holding their banners, onto the main field.

There was also the traditional singing of the National Anthem and a special acknowledgement for the family of Andrew Russoniello, the 13-year-old township resident and Little League player who was killed when the bicycle he was riding was struck by a car on Amwell Road in August, 2016.

A plaque that the Russoniello family helped design was debuted, followed by thanks from Chris Russoniello, Andrew’s father.

“We would just like to thank everyone and the whole Franklin community who have come out and supported us,” he said. Andrew “was so exited about all of this.”

“That was the one thing I would say about watching him play, he was always so excited when everyone was successful,” Russoniello said.  “I remember one time a friend, Buck, was pitching against him, and he said, ‘Dad, I want Buck to pitch really well and I want to knock the ball right out of the park.’ That was how he played the game.”

“I know his spirit will be here, watching you guys and cheering for all of you,” he said.

Also speaking were Mayor Phil Kramer, and Township Councilman James Vassanella (D-Ward 5).

“I want to thank all the parents for giving their time to the youth,” he said. “It takes a village, and you’re part of that village. You don’t have to be the mayor of a town or a councilman to help, you guys are helping at the grassroots and I appreciate that, and the town appreciates that.”

Vassanella, who played in the township Little League, said the baseball complex is “one of the most important facilities in the entire township and has been and always will be for the youth in our township.”

Vassanella noted that the complex will be getting new restrooms in the summer, and that the council has taken steps to expand the complex’s parking lot.

“We look forward to assisting the Little League, and your leadership, in improving this facility,” he said. “This facility is golden.”

The league’s roughly 350 children play on 27 teams, said FTBL president Chuck Turano.

“I just want to say thank-you to all the players and the families and the friends,” Turano told the crowd. “You guys are the heart and soul of this league, especially the parents, because you guys have to endure rainouts, practices, games, schedules, things like that.”

“We understand it’s a really busy time, but we really do appreciate your support, you guys entrusting your children with us,” he said.

2017 FTBL Season-Opening Ceremonies

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