By Isaac Greszes
On Sunday of last week (June 22), three Great Neck teams, playing at St. John’s University, completed a sweep of their respective division championships in the Jewish Community Little League (JCLL). The league, which is chartered by Little League Baseball, comprises various teams from Long Island and Queens, including Great Neck, Plainview, Hillcrest, Kew Gardens, and Jamaica Estates. There are three divisions: Minors (3rd- and 4th-graders), Majors (5th- and 6th-graders), and Juniors (7th- and 8th-graders).
In the Minors division, the Great Neck 4th-grade team completed a turnaround season with a championship amongst a field of 10 teams. After going 1–6 the previous year, the team turned things around by going 7–2 during this regular season.
In the Majors division, the Great Neck 5th-grade team had an impressive perfect season. Their story began four years ago when, as 2nd-graders, they entered the Minors division amongst mostly 4th-grade teams and won the B championship. The next season in the Minors division, as 3rd-graders, they went undefeated and won the A championship. Last year, as 4th-graders, they played up in the Majors division with primarily 6th-grade teams. Despite their impressive performance, they lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions. This season, as 5th-graders, they just capped another undefeated season and won another championship, outscoring their opponents 101–13 in 10 games.
In the championship game, the Great Neck Majors came from behind twice to beat a tough KGS team 6–5. Butch Rubin, executive director of JCLL, called it “the most exciting game in the last ten years.” The Great Neck Majors team intend to play up again next season in the Junior division as 6th-graders and continue their historic JCLL journey.
In the Juniors division, Great Neck played KGS. Great Neck, the number-one seed after finishing the regular season 6–2, won 2–0.
“As far as I know, this is the first time in the history of the league that all three championships were won by Great Neck teams,” said co-commissioner Elie Cohen. The Junior team was coached by Mr. Cohen with Dr. Mordi Dicker. “The kids worked very hard this season and it really paid off,” said Dr. Dicker.
Sunday’s games were all played with the American flag flying at half-staff in memory of Marc Katz, who was a dedicated communal leader and served as president of the JCLL for over 30 years and who suddenly passed away the previous Thursday. For next season, the league will rename the playoff games the Marc Katz Memorial Championship Series. v