Lou Cammisa is the Major League Commissioner of the Taney Youth Baseball Association. Taney provides opportunities for more than 1,000 kids from ages 3 to 15 to play baseball, softball or tee-ball.
Cammisa and the rest of the organization help Philadelphia youths by offering good sportsmanship, teamwork, fun and instruction.
Talk about the Taney Organization as a whole.
Taney was established in 1994 by a board of six people who wanted kids to play baseball in areas that didn’t have it.
It grew from about 180 kids total to now we’re just over 1000 kids. We have a footprint throughout the entire city. Apart from Taney, we also have South Philly, Southwest Philly, West Philly, North Philly, Northeast Philly, Fishtown, Kensington Area and Northern Liberties.
We now have a board of about 15 members plus close to 150 volunteers in any one season.
How does Little League Baseball help inner city youths to stay off of the streets and out of trouble?
When Taney was established, that was the goal. We were a nonprofit. I mean, we still are a nonprofit but Little League didn’t come to us and we didn’t join Little League until about three to four years ago.
The goal is to get these kids out and active. Most of these kids will not play baseball outside the city. You know, they’re not going to see much of it. Taney has been expanding to try and get them to play teams in New Jersey and Delaware. For them to be able to play teams from California and around the country, that’s the allure that Little League has with city kids. Kids see that and they want to join Taney.
How does Taney give back to the community?
All our fields are located throughout the city. By volunteering, you’re helping your community. If you live in West Philly and you volunteer in West Philly, you’re engaging with the kids there and trying to get them to play baseball.
Taney, when we went to the Little League World Series, we received a lot of donations and sponsorship. In turn, we made an initiative in the city of Philadelphia. Where they have sub-par leagues, where the tee-ball leagues are somewhat non-existent, we gave them each $15,000 to fund their private tee-ball leagues.
Over the last 4 or 5 years, we’ve also developed a basketball program. We’ve had in excess of about 500 kids who have joined that.
How has the Taney team that went to the Little League World Series helped this program?
The immediate was the parade, the party and a lot of national recognition. Locally, we had a lot of newspapers and TV stations check us out.
What it has done since then is more people wanted to be involved in the Little League aspect of Taney. I think it opened up a lot of kids to playing baseball. We have more than 1,000 kids now. Four to five years ago, we were at 750. We grew by about 300. They want to be a part of it because they’ve seen a team go that far.
– Text and images by Jon DiMuzio and Rocco DiSangro.