Two decades ago in Harlem, a kid had a hard time finding a place to play ball. Empty, garbage-strewn lots doubled as playgrounds. Fields were scarce, organized teams scarcer. That all changed in 1989, when Iris and Dwight Raiford started Harlem Little League. Now, over 20 years later, the league has more than 600 boys and girls ages 5 to 18 playing on 42 teams, including two teams for disabled children.
On Sunday April 15, 2012, the Harlem Little League played the the West Coast Japanese Little League on the Friendship Field at Marcus Garvey Park, Madison Ave. E. 120th Street to 124th Street. Family, community residents, and special guests participated in the Opening Ceremony which included special messages from Dwight RaifordCo-Founder of the Harlem Little League, Assemblyman Keith Wright, Lloyd Williams, President & CEO The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, the former First Lady of Japan Mrs. Hosakawa, Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Chief of Mission, the Consulate General of Japan in NY, Voza Rivers, Executive Producer, and Katsuya Abe, International Producer New Heritage Theatre Group.
The game, which was won by the West Coast Japanese team (8-3), was enthusiastically watched by a cheering crowd of parents and sports enthusiasts. The Little League game was presented by Harlem Little League Commission, International Baseball Education Committee (IBEC USA), New Heritage Theatre Group, and The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.
The mission and purpose of the International Baseball Education Committee in USA (IBEC USA) is to foster friendships among youth of various ethnic groups through baseball and their global cultural exchange program. IBEC USA believes this program will educate the youth of the world to become better citizens, learning a sense of love, community, respect and appreciation through the sport of baseball.
New Heritage Theatre Group is the oldest not for profit black theatre in New York, celebrating their 48th Anniversary.