The tournament is smaller but still special as the champion wins a Stanley Cup-like trophy called the Cy Williams Cup. The award is named after the late Big League scout and member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
Williams has always been a guest speaker at the league’s annual banquet, and his family donated the cup after his death.
While Zajac has been involved in the league for just over half a century is impressive, it almost didn’t happen.
The diocese shut down the league after its 49th season because of costs and under the pretext that most boys wanted to play football. Jerge, then a St. Martin’s coach, organized a meeting and invited supporters from different parishes interested in saving the league. About 40 people attended the meeting, proof that baseball could work.
They entered into a sponsorship with Bishop Nash Council and Bishop Baker’s Knights of Columbus, who donated $ 2,000 to keep the league alive. Zajac, Jerge, Paul Quagliana and Fran Cleary have been appointed senior officers.
“If it hadn’t been for Jack, the league would be dead,” Zajac said.
However, the league found itself struggling for survival five years later when the Knights of Columbus decided to end the sponsorship. AMVETS Post No. 45 came to the aid of the league, including paying an invoice the league owed the K of C. After 35 years as a sponsor, donations made by the friends of the late Nativity of Orchard coach Park, Ed McGrath, have since helped cover the costs of running the league.