Volunteer receives national recognition for reviving Yough Little League
When Andrew Bergman’s daughter Sidney wanted to join Little League, she was almost out of luck.
“I looked at where the Little League program was at, and it was pretty much nonexistent for softball, and baseball was almost nonexistent as well,” Bergman said. “There was just one T-ball team.”
The Yough Little League’s numbers had been dropping for years, to the point there was barely a league left.
Bergman, of South Huntingdon, decided to change that. He went to Yough Little League President Ken Bach with a big idea.
“Andy said, ‘Let’s do it for free,’” Bach recalled. “And I said, ‘Andy, that doesn’t work, we can’t do it for free.’ and he said, ‘I can raise the money; let me do it.’”
Bergman drummed up sponsors and organized fundraisers. Soon the league had enough money to waive registration and uniform fees, saving players about $50 each.
Bergman, now vice president of the league, also managed to recruit his 5-year-old daughter and eight of her friends to revive the dormant softball team.
That was about six years ago. The softball program is up to 70 players. The baseball program also is on the rise. And Bergman hasn’t stopped working to improve the league.
Bergman has been named 2019’s Little League Softball Volunteer of the Year, chosen from among hundreds of little league divisions nationwide. He will receive his award this month at the Little League World Series in Williamsport.
Bergman, a regional manager with Nutrition Inc., grew up in West Newton. Baseball was a daily pastime.
“We lived on those fields, not only playing there but watching all those other games, too,” he said.
His three daughters have followed in his footsteps, all playing Little League softball.
It’s easy to come up with ideas to improve the league, Bach said. Making them happen is a lot harder. Bergman can do both.
The league’s fields hadn’t been improved in about 50 years, so Bergman got to work, holding fundraisers and securing grants to make $70,000 worth of improvements.
That cash paid for two new scoreboards, an announcers’ booth and a bathroom to replace the portable toilets.
“It’s a big shot in the arm, for the community, and everybody has pitched in,” Bergman said.
He didn’t know he had been nominated for the award until he learned he’d won.
“You’re not in there to get an award,” he said. “You’re in there to give lifelong experiences to these kids.”
Bach said he was determined to make sure Bergman would be nationally recognized for his work. He nominated Bergman and urged parents and players to support his nomination online.
Bergman is popular with everyone in the league, according to Bach.
“The girls love him, the parents love him,” he said.
Bergman said he sees the award as a recognition of the league’s transformation, rather than his own efforts.
“There’s so many people who have played a role there,” he said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .