WEBSTER, N.Y. – Like most summer days, the Rochester Ridgemen’s baseball players spent Jun. 16 on the diamond honing skills. However, the players weren’t working on their game but on that of the members of the Webster Athletic Association Challenger Division.
The players, whose team participates in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, spent the afternoon at Empire Park helping with a game between the Dodgers and Yankees of the Challenger Division, which aims to provide a baseball opportunity for kids with physical and mental disabilities.
“It was neat to get out there and see the kids’ smiles and the pure joy they get out of playing the game,” said Ridgemen pitcher/infielder Joel Belk. “As you get older and play at higher levels of baseball, people tend to lose that joy for the game and it becomes more like a business, but seeing these kids laugh and encourage their teammates and even the other team reminded us why we play the game.”
For WAA Vice President Bob Dayton, it isn’t often that his players get the opportunity to work with college players.
“The players were wonderful with our WAA Challenger kids during the game at Empire Park,” says Dayton. “The support and assistance from the guys was a nice display of their character and faith.”
The Ridgemen seek excellence in both baseball and serving the community.
“It was a great afternoon,” says Ridgemen General Manager Chris Rainwater. “Our guys want to be a blessing in the Rochester community this summer, but today we were blessed by the opportunity to hang out with these kids.”
This is the team’s first season in the Rochester area after playing as the Alfred Thunder for several years. The Ridgemen, who play their home games at Webster’s Basket Road Stadium, recently announced their new identity after being known as the Rochester Athletes in Action.
“With the move to the Webster area, we really wanted our team name to be meaningful to the community,” says Rainwater. “Through talking with some local people we were told that the old high school’s team name was the Ridgemen, and we thought it would be a perfect fit. We are really excited to be here this summer and to be a part of the baseball tradition in the Webster area.”
Ron Kampff, WAA Challenger Baseball Commissioner commented, “It’s nice to have athletes who care about the community and not just themselves. We are very fortunate to have a team like this playing in Webster.”
The Webster Post/Webster Herald contributed to this story. Photo courtesy Webster Post/Herald.