North End Dodgers Play Four Games Versus North Adams

For the 30th consecutive year, a North End baseball team, ages 13-15 travel to the western part of the state to North Adams to compete in the La Festa Baseball Exchange.

The series started in 1989 by a group of men from both cities to find a way to connect the smallest and the largest cities in the state.

Joe Sgarano of the North End and Toni Abusi of North Adams who both worked for Secretary of Transportation Fred Salvucci coordinated a group of people to help out North Adams put together a street festival, similar to the North End feasts.

Once the street festival plans were completed, the group decided to work on something to have the use of both cities interact on something fun, like a baseball series and a North End team trekked out to the western part of the state to play baseball.

The team had no idea what to expect as it seemed whenever a local team played out of town they lost, usually badly. However, well before the team arrived to North Adams, they were winners before a pitch was ever thrown.

John Fiumara and Joe Sgarano of the North End Knights of Columbus headed West before the team and were interviewed on local radio and talked about the street festival and the baseball series.

The nine local players were escorted to the street festival like visiting dignitaries along with coach Carl Ameno. It was a sight to be seen and somehow the North End team managed to win the game.

After the game, everyone ate together and celebrated a friendship that began that day and has lasted 30 years. As luck would have it, the North End Knights (name of the team then) were participating in several other leagues and there was simply no time to fit in a rematch or reciprocate the great time that North Adams provided.

A year later, with time to plan, the La Festa Baseball Exchanged between the two cities officially began.

The most recent trip to North Adams was not so good on the score board for the local team but the fun, sportsmanship, friendship and the legacy of the Exchange continued.

A team made up of many 13-year-olds put up a great fight but eventually were on the losing end of both games.

These young men set the stage for future series with grit, spirit and determination.

As they have done for 29 years, the team, the North End Dodgers hosted North Adams for another two-game series played in East Boston and Charlestown because of construction at Puopolo Park.

North Adams once again won both games scheduled during the North End Against Drugs (NEAD) annual Family Fun Festival on August 3 and 4.

The Dodgers were coached by Ralph Martignetti and Joe Bova.

Mayor Tom Bernard throughout the first pitch at the North Adam game on Saturday night.

The Canales family, George and his wife Nancy, their sons Michael, David, Jason and their wives Kate, Dawn and Jill along with Toni Abusi, John Lipa and a host of others were thanked for the hospitality that was second to none.

Hats off to Kevin and George who have volunteered to empire the games in North Adams for 29 years.

The teams split the two games in thge North End.

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