CANTON, May 6, 2023 – For most of his life, Canton’s Stan Krzanowski has been around the fields of our youth.
When he was a youngster, he played Little League baseball on a field on River Road in the late 1940s where a storage unit business sits today. He played at the Dyer Avenue field where he was good enough to be selected to Canton’s All-Star team into the Little League state tournament.
He was a four-year starter at Canton High in the late 1950s on a baseball field carved out of the far side of what is now the playground at Canton Intermediate School because Bowdoin Field had not been built yet by town residents.
After Krzanowski and his wife Diane decided to raise their family in Canton, Krzanowski joined Canton Little League in the late 1970s to coach his son, Steve, and his friends. Krzanowski, 81, has been with the organization ever since – the last 46 years.
A grateful town and Little League organization honored Krzanowski on Saturday by naming the new Little League softball complex on the Canton High campus in his honor. He threw out the first pitch before the first game of the day began.
Appropriately since it was the first pitch before a softball game, he fired an underhanded pitch to the plate.
Krzanowski has done a bit of everything with Canton Little League. He has been coach, manager, player agent, a member of the Board of Directors and the league president from 2000-13. He started the billboard initiative in 1988 for local businesses to support Little League.
In the past decade, he has shepherded the construction of dugouts and upgrades to baseball and softball fields across the town. He went before the town boards to get the necessary approvals. He lined up quality contractors to build the dugouts.
“He is an unstoppable force of nature,” said Greg Brisco, a former Little League coach and member of the Canton Little League Board. “He is just for everything good you want with baseball or softball. He has been behind it and he has been able to come up with the money. He has been this force of nature for good.”
Today, he is the league’s Director of Projects and Sponsors.
“I think what most people forget is that most parent volunteers come in while their kids are playing and when their kids graduate from the program, they stop. Stan never did that,” said Bob Bessel, Canton’s First Selectman. “Stan remained with the program. He has been a stalwart advocate for the program. His persistence is a really a model for all of us.
“I look at him as an example of what it means to really serve the community,” Bessel said. “He is doing it for the kids. He isn’t doing it for grandstanding or anything like that. It’s all about the kids and you can see that.”
Krzanowski coached baseball through 2000. He helped start the girls softball program in 1989.
“One of the things that drove me to get a softball team going is my daughter (Amy) didn’t get to play. I saw that a lot of girls wanted to play but they didn’t want to play baseball,” he said.
He started a Connie Mack baseball team, an American Legion baseball program, a Jaycee-Courant team and a Babe Ruth team.
“I just love baseball,” Krzanowski said. “Any way I could be involved in baseball or softball I took. I enjoy watching the kids. I take great pleasure watching these different age groups play on all of these different fields. It’s nice to see everyone out there enjoying the fields.”
When he started the billboard fundraising program, he sent information to dozens of businesses around town. “We had 24 billboards which we made ourselves,” Krzanowski said. Nearly 35 years later, it’s a much smoother process. Many businesses simply renew their billboard donation each year.
These funds provide Krzanowski with money to improve the fields.
“My thing has always been whatever field Canton Little League uses, be it baseball or softball, we’ll try to make it better,” he said. “Through the years, we’ve done whatever projects we could.”
Projects included dugouts, protective fencing, batting cages, snack facilities and storage buildings.
Plenty of upgrades were done at the Little League field on Dyer Avenue and at the fields on Symonds Avenue at the Willem van Gemeren Complex.
While most athletes participate in Little League through age 12, some continue on Junior Division and Senior Division up to the ages of 18. Canton has fielded Junior and Senior Division baseball and softball over the years.
When dugouts and protective fencing were needed for Bowdoin Field, Krzanowski spearheaded the project. He went to numerous town boards and many meetings to get the needed permission.
Krzanowski secured area businesses to do the work. Rich VandeBogart’s Stoneworks poured the cement floors, Mutch Nicer Enterprises, owned by Bob Mutch, built the dugouts with Royal Construction doing the roofs. Horton Electric did any electrical work that was needed.
“In many ways, they outdid themselves. They were paid but they put in a lot of extra effort to get it done correctly,” Krzanowski said. “There were a lot of things they did behind the scenes and contributions (to the projects) they did for free.”
Dugouts and protective fencing were built around the baseball fields at Bowdoin Field and Mills Pond along with the high school softball field.
With the completion of Stanley Krzanowski Field, there doesn’t seem to be a need for any major projects around the town’s baseball and softball fields. “There is always something somewhere to be done,” Krzanowski said. “I have a list.”
He didn’t arrange for a sign with his name to be placed under the scoreboard in center field at Krzanowski Field. It was unveiled Saturday to the applause of dozens there to see the dedication.
“I think it’s an honor and I appreciate the recognition,” he said. “It gives you a nice feeling that the things you’ve done are appreciated. It’s nice.”