O’Neil’s Legacy Lives on Challenger Little League is Named in Her Memory

The Alice O’Neil Challenger Little League held its Opening Day ceremonies Sunday at Volunteer Field. Local dignitaries and league officials participated in the festivities. Front row are City Councilor William Trahant, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, Mary Upton, Patrick O’Neil, and City Councilor Peter Capano. Back row are Donley Cennami, League Chairman Tom Dill, League President Steve Scranton, Michael Phelps, City Councilor- at-Large Paul Crowley, and District 16 Administrator Joe Baglieri.

The Greater Lynn Challenger Little League is now the Alice O’Neil Challenger Little League.

League officials unveiled a new sign displaying the new name during Opening Day ceremonies Sunday at Volunteer Field.

O’Neil, who passed away in January, founded the baseball league for individuals with physical and mental challenges 21 years ago.

League President Steve Scranton, who works at General Electric, said renaming the league in Mrs. O’Neil’s honor was a fitting tribute to her.

“Today is our first day as the Alice O’Neil Challenger Little League,” said Scranton, whose son, Steve Jr., previously played in the league and is now manager of the Lugnuts team. “Alice never went for the attention – she just wanted to let the kids play. But our board felt this would be a great tribute to Alice and all that she did for the children of this community.”

“This is a well-deserved honor for Alice,” said Mary Upton, a friend of Mrs. O’Neil’s, who attended the Opening Day ceremonies.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy addressed the gathering including the 50 players in the league before throwing out the first ball of the 2011 season. Mrs. O’Neil’s son, Patrick, caught the first pitch of the season.

“We’re looking forward to another great season of Challenger Little League,” said the mayor. “Without Alice O’Neil here, it does seem a little different – maybe a bittersweet day that we’re starting here.  I’m sure Alice would want us to all continue on and have fun and that’s exactly what you’re going to do. To all the players, to all the buddies, the coaches, the parents, and officials of the league, I wish you a great season and play ball.”

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