Little League, East Greenwich, RI, baseball, softball, youth, sports, challenger


The History of EGLL

In 1952, East Greenwich Little League became part of the International
Organization of Little League Baseball. Under the leadership of Robert
L. Cragan, four teams were established, and it is believed that Solomon
& Silverman, E.G. Hardware, E.G. Dairy and E.G. Fire Department were
the first four sponsors.

Bob Cragan played three varsity sports for U.R.I.—baseball, basketball
and football. After graduating, he played professional football for the
RI Steamrollers and a semi-pro baseball. Bob’s love for the game and
his tremendous energy inspired him to employ the efforts of several
hardworking townspeople to build a Little League field.

In 1954, he found his “field of dreams” in a far corner of a privately
owned cemetery. The patch of land was down an embankment,
divided by an active stream. There was no access to this swampy lot,
but that did not stop Bob and his hardworking crew. Bob’s motto had
to be “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, for they broke through a
road off Reilly Avenue, redirected the stream through a large culvert,
and constructed what is today known as Cragan Field.

Among the pioneers of East Greenwich Little League were the first
President, Fred Miller, first Treasurer, Bill Carr, Herb “he can fix
anything” Wilson, Jim Philbrick, Town Treasurer Herb Cooper, Ralph
Marden, Bill Brennan, Ellsworth “Bud” Harding, Earl Burnes, and Jim
MacNie. Along with several others, these men worked long and hard
in the spring of 1954, together with the volunteer assistance of Frank
Coslor’s construction company, to complete Cragan Field.

Spring fever and Little League Baseball had taken hold, and now a new
problem was surfacing—the League had expanded to eight teams and
more fields were needed.

What now? What else?! Build a new field! In the winter of 1954–55, Bob
pulled his loyal crew together and discussed their problem with the
town. The EGLL was willing to build another field, but the town had to
come up with the land. In the early spring, the Town Council agreed to
give the meadow behind the East Greenwich Academy to the crew for
construction. This time, Cliff McKenna volunteered the services of his
construction company and together, with the founders of EGLL, built
what is today known as Academy Field.

Although the field is quite different from the scratched out sandlot playing surface,
the diamond, benches, and backstop are all in the very same position.
Academy Field was completed by opening day in 1955 with proper celebration.
Players in their gray flannel uniforms lined both sides of the field, while
the National Anthem played and the flag was hoisted. On hand to
throw out the first baseball was the President of the Town Council, Ray
Crompton. Ray praised the Little League for establishing the field for
the town, and credited the League for taking the initiative to create
recreational facilities for the town.

Two months after the completion of Academy Field, Bob Cragan died
suddenly, suffering a heart attack at the age of forty-four. In his memory,
the cemetery field was dedicated to him; his spirit and energy will
forever stay with us. The Robert L. Cragan Memorial Field is still owned
by the E.G. Cemetery Corporation and leased to the Town for the
exclusive use of the Little League.

Academy Field is a town field which is now used for many recreational activities
including Little League. Since those early years, the EGLL has grown substantially.
All told, 16,000 youths have gone through the League. Parents who once
watched their children, are now watching their grandchildren.
The Softball League, established in 1972, allows many of our fine
female athletes to play competitively and prepare for teams at the
junior and high school levels.

The baseball program continues to expand and is responsible for many
of the state titles at the junior and senior high schools. Numerous
championships have been claimed in both the baseball & softball
programs, including Regional, State, New England and Northeast