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Baseball clubhouse in South Scranton gets needed upgrades

Brian Pusey hits the ball during the Lackawanna County Challenger Division baseball game on Sunday at the South Scranton Little League.
Aimee Dilger
Brian Pusey hits the ball during the Lackawanna County Challenger Division baseball game on Sunday at the South Scranton Little League field.

Paul Guzzi was first at bat on Sunday.

He struck the ball, pitched by Michael Christ, and ran the bases in his electric wheelchair.

His mom Nancy Guzzi cheered from the sidelines.

"Fly, baby fly," she cheered.

Paul's been a member of the Lackawanna Challenger Division team since he was 8 — this year he turns 38.

The team's home base is the South Scranton Little League's Harmon Field. The division recently got a state grant to upgrade the field's clubhouse bathrooms and add a privacy room that doubles has a disaster shelter for the community.

Nancy Guzzi said the clubhouse upgrades are great. She is a firm believer in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"Everything should be ... no matter what, I don't care if the building's 190 years old, it should be accessible," she said.

The bathrooms in the cinder block clubhouse are standard. There’s no grab bars near the toilets. The doors aren’t wide enough for some wheelchairs. Some of the players who need routine medical assistance have to go home during the games. With the upgrades, they can play until the end.

State Rep. Kyle Donahue grew up playing at the field. He helped secure the funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The Rotary Club of Scranton is also supporting the project.

"This project really aligns with our mission of helping the community, helping people with disabilities and helping children ... realize their potential," said Joe Riccardo, a club member involved with Challenger.

Challenger offers three different sports: baseball, basketball and soccer. They have around 186 athletes on the teams, said Steven Polishan, a coach and team dad. Baseball is their flagship sport. The late Betty Bellantoni and husband started the division in 1991.

Christ's son, Michael, loves baseball. He has been in the league since he was 5. He’ll be 30 in September.

"In a regular league a lot of coaches they're afraid that they're going to get hurt, so they won't do it," he said. "Here we take every precaution we can and we make sure they all get a chance."

Brian Pusey plays center field.

“I love to play ... every year I come here to play," he said. "My favorite part is to have fun and be … active with the kids.”

Daniel Glynn catches the ball.
Aimee Dilger
Daniel Glynn catches the ball.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.

You can email Kat at katbolus@wvia.org