Little League Groundskeeper of 32 Years Just Loves the Game
by Grace Carmen
Jul 01, 2009 | 6954 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sitting at a white-wooden picnic table overlooking three baseball diamonds, Al Erdmann dressed in a faded blue tank top and jean shorts turned and proclaimed, “I’m the only man in Queens with a 6-acre backyard.” That’s how the Vice President and groundskeeper of 32-years for the Ridgewood- Glendale- Middle Village- Maspeth (RGMVM) Little League refers to his home away from home.

A typical day for the retired carpenter for City University usually lasts from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M., at least six days a week. He takes out the garbage, cuts the grass, and puts more dirt on the field if it rains to clear up the mud at Seither Stadium. And with 975 kids and 60-plus teams counting on him, that’s no small task.

The long-time Glendale resident played in the Little League himself in 1958 and 1959. His son Al played, as well as one of his daughters. He now has three grandchildren playing, ages 12, 7, and 5.

Erdmann coaches a team each year that is reputed to be one of the most competitive season after season. He attributes this to the legacies that pass through. “I had the older brother, so I’ll draft the younger brother as well.” He has also coached triple, double, and single-A players, and even coached Mets/ Yankees pitcher Allen Watson for two years.

All the dedicated groundskeeper gets for his 72-hour work week is a small $100 stipend, yet he continues to come back. His reason? “I love the game of baseball.” And he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon, at least not until his last grandson passes through the League, completing the third-generation of ball players at Seither.

Erdmann is resident cook for all the umpires that work for the League. Highly skilled with the grill, his menu includes hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, Salisbury steaks, and the “best beer can chicken in Queens.” The fields and concession area seemed more like a summer cookout with friends and family than a Little League. Yes there were baseball and softball games going on, but many of the umpires and League administrators have been there for years, and it has become a great place to reminisce and enjoy baseball over a hot plate of food and a cold drink. And nobody looks more at home than Al.

“The maintenance is done in house by your own guys,” explained Erdmann. “It is not a public park. Umpires are available on call and the entire staff is alumni so when we pay them it’s like family.”

As well as running operations at Seither Stadium, Erdmann travels to Europe every year as a volunteer through Williamsport Headquarters. The last three years he has as a game director for the World Series in Poland. “As far as the level of play over there, the best team is usually as good as the best team in New York City, but not the state and not nationally,” he said.

Everyone at the fields knows and loves the dedicated VP. “There’s not enough good words to say about that man,” said Judy Lebau, one of the coaches at the field.

Bill Dwyer, umpire-in-chief for the 11 year-old boys agreed. “They say everybody is replaceable, but not when it comes to Al. What he’s done for the last 32 years, we can’t replace that.” It seems his presence extends far past the minutiae of keeping a Little League running. “It’s not what he’s done for the league, it’s how he treats people,” said Dwyer.
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