Take me out to the ball game isn’t just a classic New York ditty on its favorite game but a tune that took a NYC boy from Little League baseball to bringing sports back into New York City Parks — bridging community with companies. Since 1978, Yorkville Sports Association, YSA has organized softball leagues, starting with eight community teams. Adolfo Morales, YSA’s founder, realized the need for organized sports teams to take back the parks during the City’s toughest time of crime – the 70s and 80s – when many would not go into the parks. By 1998, YSA was working with 350 softball teams, as well as a full roster of football, basketball and volleyball teams organized with the assistance of high school and college interns.
Today, YSA has 200 softball teams throughout Manhattan and Westchester, as well as twelve football and ten kickball leagues and continues to be a driving force behind advocating for well-run recreation leagues and quality park systems. YSA consulted with the City Parks Department, leading to rebuilding of the current park site, www.nycparks.org.
Along our extensive journey diversity and inclusivity remain a hallmark of YSA. We offer open scrimmages and organize individual players into teams from the start, not only growing championships but long-lasting friendships (including a few marriages!).
With increased demand came additional fields resulting in games outside of midtown Manhattan in parks that were underutilized and in need of repair. Combating initial backlash to travel, YSA convinced players that ball fields were a neutral zone — safe for play. The fields remain secure to this day partly due to YSA’s efforts for availability and repair.
As YSA honed its league management skills, they shared them with the NYC Parks and Recreation Department, creating the template for Park's current permit procedure system. As a NYC vendor in 2003, YSA administered softball leagues with and for the Parks Department.
YSA’s advocacy insures the quality of the city’s many sports fields and the efficiency of administrative systems. With advice, donations and physical help to make the parks the best they can be, YSA was active on the advisory council that renovated Central Park’s Great Lawn and North Meadow.
In the early 90s, when the Parks Department faced a huge fiscal crisis due to budget cuts, YSA organized a letter writing campaign asking the city to increase funding to the Parks Department while encouraging businesses participating in league sports to donate to parks. The response was overwhelming, with many businesses donating and writing to say how much recreational sports meant to their company. YSA has always been hands-on in making sports easy for all residents of NYC.
Sincere concern for sports and community is the driving force behind YSA’s continued advocacy for all sports and for the care and respect of our parks. We solve problems and offer concrete solutions — not just complaints. We stay involved to help improve fields and the park experience, from reporting malfunctioning field lights to repairing damaged AstroTurf and unsafe conditions. YSA continues to lobby for a better system to identify idle and underutilized fields and to promote fair and transparent permit allocation.
While YSA currently only organizes adult leagues, owing to our awareness of the importance of sports in children’s lives we organized and funded youth leagues through our non-profit arm: the Recreational Athletic Cultural Society for Youth (TRACS FOR YOUTH) in Dewitt Clinton and Harlem River Parks. YSA donates time, money, and support to youth leagues and schools, Police Athletic Association (PAL), Youth Service Leagues, Harlem RBI (now Dream), the Talbot Perkins Children’s Services Mentoring Program and Special Olympics. In 1996, YSA was instrumental in organizing the Inaugural NYC Mayor’s Cup Softball Championship, benefiting Citywide Youth Softball Championships that ran for five years becoming a USA Softball sanctioned event of the governing body of United States Softball. Our currently active not-for-profit, the United Athletic Association (UAA) supports baseball, softball and all sports communities (uaasports.org).
Further, the Yorktown Heights branch of YSA is involved in many youth community programs, including D.A.R.E. and the Yorktown Athletic Club.
Well-versed in the politics of league management, YSA has grown over the years, to the benefit of teams, leagues, and communities. Adolfo Morales, or Al as he likes to be called, has come a long way from the parks near his childhood home where he played ball to scoring home runs for his teams by constantly cutting through red tape to get things done. With unyielding persistence, an open heart and mind toward the underprivileged and underserved, concern for community, advocacy, and love of sports, YSA has become the MVP of its field.
At the turn of the 20th century most of the staffing of New York City parks were patronage jobs. In the 1950s and 1960s, public sector unions organized most park workers which was considered at the time the first major political defeat of Robert Moses. During the city's fiscal crisis in the 1970s, the Department of Parks and Recreation City adapted practices such as using welfare recipients and volunteers to do work previously completed by unionized workers and to forge partnerships with nonprofit organizations and local sports league. Yorkville Sports (YSA) was one of those that helped maintain athletic fields prior to use and assumed responsibilities previously handled by the public sector. During this time the Central Park Conservancy and the Prospect Park Alliance were formed.