David Palumbo got some news he wasn’t expecting last Tuesday, but it was exciting news all the same.
The president of Warwick National Little League, Palumbo found out that his league was getting an honor on a countrywide scale. National earned the regional ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program) Award, one of just five winners in all of America.
Over 5,000 Little Leagues are entered for the award, but National is one of the select few that received the honor.
The league has a history of safety success, having won the ASAP National Award in 2007. This year’s honor was given out to National thanks to the work of Palumbo and the league’s safety officer, Bob Bubar, who constructed the league’s safety plan prior to the season.
“When the league called me up, I had no idea,” Palumbo said. “Me, nor Bob knew. It surprised the both of us.”
Bubar felt the same way.
“We thought it was a hoax until the lady started verifying our information,” he said.
The process to win is a simple one, which is why Palumbo never expected his league to win it in the first place. Every year, Little Leagues around the country are required to submit a safety plan.
Once all of those are submitted, Musco Light – one of the sponsors of the ASAP Awards – holds a contest to determine the five regional winners.
Introduced in 1994, ASAP has already increased Little League's overall safety awareness and reduced insurance costs for participating leagues.
“I’m very proud of the league winning this award,” Palumbo said. “We’re a small league, but a good league.”
The submitted plans themselves are comprehensive, ranging from the playing field to the surrounding area and the game-viewing experience.
“How to run the field, making sure the kids are hydrated the right way, making sure the equipment is good, putting yellow stuff on top of the fence, all of that,” Palumbo said.
Bubar elaborated on the plan, which includes proper gear for the players, breakaway bases, inhalers and epi pens readily available, batting cage regulations and quite a bit more.
Drawing up the plan is no small task.
“A lot goes into it,” Bubar said. “It’s all about the kids.”
Earning the award has its perks too, beyond just recognition. Palumbo and Bubar will be brought out to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn., in August, with their families, all expenses paid.
Once there, they’ll be honored with a luncheon, and a national winner will be chosen of the five finalists. The national winner earns $10,000 to be put toward the Little League.
That’s still a ways away, but if National does end up as the national winner, Palumbo already has some ideas for where the money will go.
“If we win, we’d like to upgrade the bleachers and put in a warning track, maybe make one of the fields a bigger field,” Palumbo said.
Regardless of how it finishes out, though, it’s already been quite an honor for a Little League in Warwick, Rhode Island that thought its baseball season was already over.
“It just blows my mind,” Bubar said. “There are over 5,000 little leagues in America. Just to be top five out of 5,000-plus, that’s a pretty special accomplishment.”