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Ballfield officially named

May 10, 2017
By ED FRANKS (efranks@breezenewspapers.com) , Pine Island Eagle

Approximately 75 people arrived at the Pine Island Elementary School baseball field to celebrate the naming of the field "Coach Andy Harley Field."

Harley coached Pine Island Little League for nearly 30 years.

Opening comments were made by one of his former players, Dylan Geraci, who started playing T-ball with Harley nearly 30 years ago when he was 7 or 8 years old. He also went on to play Major League and Senior League baseball.

Article Photos

Left to right: Rebecca Diamond, Olivia Diamond, Kay Harley, Jesse Harley, Stella Harley.

ED FRANKS

"This is an awesome turnout and I thank you for coming tonight," Geraci said. "We're here to honor 'Coach' Andy Harley. Andy was a loving husband, a great father and he was a baseball coach to hundreds of kids. We're here today because of the impact Andy had on Pine Island Little League and his players."

About 30 years ago, Harley was invited to coach Little League by Pine Island resident Carlyn Herring. Harley began coaching the T-ball team that his son Jesse was playing on. As Jesse moved up through the league Harley moved up until they both reached the Seniors.

The home field for the Pirates was, and still is, the baseball field located at Pine Island Elementary School.

"When the field was built, it was in very bad shape," fellow long-time coach Mike Shevlin said. "Today it's a great field and it's safe to say that without Andy Harley, the fixing up of this field would probably not have happened.

"This is a great thing when we honor one of our coaches," Shevlin said. "As a coach you don't know who you effect. A coach can be tough and even yell at you. Sometimes just a couple of words ... 'Great catch' ... can change a kid's whole outlook and that kid becomes a different person. Coach Andy made that kind of impact on so many of our kids."

"Coach Andy took baseball and coaching very seriously," Geraci said. "In this day and age when you get trophies for showing up, that wasn't good enough for Coach Andy. We were going to practice hard and if I messed up, Coach didn't worry about a politically correct way to let me know about it. I could see the frustration build up in his face, he'd throw the bat down, and throw his hands in the air. That frustration was there because he cared and I can't thank Coach enough for the lessons of life that mistakes have consequences."

The original idea to name the senior field "Andy Harley Field" came from his son Jesse.

"My great-grandfather played baseball in the Major Leagues at the turn of the last century for 9 seasons," Jesse said. "Several years ago, a field was named after my great-grandfather and I remember thinking that was awesome that so many people think that highly of him is a great honor.

"Then it was at my father's funeral two years ago that it occurred to me that naming this field after my dad would be awesome," Jesse said. "This day took a long time to get here and there are many, many people to thank starting with Pine Island Elementary Principals Rob Mazzoli and Steve Hook and thanks to Honc Industry for the plaque and stand.

"As a son, it's interesting to see how many people he affected," Harley said. "Hearing and reading how he was a mentor and father figure to others means a lot to my family. It's easy to put your own dad on a pedestal but when other people say the same thing it means a lot."

"Naming this field after Andy Harley has been a long time coming and well deserved," Carlyn Herring said. "It's no coincidence Coach Andy's teams experienced unprecedented success and it's no coincidence many of coach's former players have gone onto successful and happy lives. It is no coincidence some of Andy's players are now coaches themselves, passing on what they learned to the next generation. Coach Andy's players have self-belief because of the belief Coach Andy had in them."

"True success doesn't happen overnight or by accident," former player Chris Jock said. "Andy taught us that without overcoming struggle with hard work and a relentless desire to never quit success would be meaningless.

"Life offers more challenges than just taking the trash out or studying to get into a better college," Jock said. "Fortunately, Andy was there to better prepare us for life. 'Never Quit' that was it that was Andy's way. That's what he was all about and I still have a box of game balls that say 'Never Quit.'"

Coach Harley's family and players lined up at the first base line to recite the Little League Pledge:

I trust in God

I love my country and will respect its laws

I will play fair and strive to win

But win or lose I will always do my best.

 
 

 

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