PITTSFIELD --It was a crisp, clear morning at Springside Park on Saturday, the perfect conditions for opening day of the Little League season. It was the type of day Don Gleason would have loved.
Gleason, who had served as District I Little League administrator since 1985, died last July at 77 following a six-month battle with cancer. It was the first time in decades Gleason wasn't in attendance for opening day, but friends and family said he was there in spirit as the ceremonies kicked off with the dedication of the Donald Gleason North Little League.
"He would have been thrilled," said Gleason's wife, Pat.
Pat Gleason said the North Little League field was an important place for her husband because it was where he first got involved in youth baseball in the city.
"I think he's smiling down from above," said Pat Gleason.
Gleason first joined the North Little League in 1968, serving as its president. He went on to become president of the Pittsfield Little League and later the District I administrator of the Massachusetts State Little League.
Members of Gleason's family were on hand for the dedication, as well as a number of city and state officials.
Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi read a proclamation describing Gleason as one of the city's most dedicated advocates for children and sports. Bianchi said Gleason worked so no child was excluded from the youth baseball because of financial issues, and he also noted Gleason's 43 years working with the CYC basketball program.
Bianchi said Gleason was the "quintessential American guy. He had maybe a rough exterior to some, but he had a heart as big as all outdoors."
Mike Burton, who took over as district administrator last July, said Gleason worked tirelessly for the kids and he hopes he can do the job half as well as his predecessor.
Burton said Gleason was also well respected by Little League officials from across the state and his contributions locally can't be understated, adding, "He was Little League in Pittsfield, Berkshire County and District I."
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