COMMUNITY MVP: Longtin proud of Glastonbury Little League

When it comes to Little League Baseball, there is more than one way to measure success.

Sure, winning district and state championships can be important. But ask Glastonbury Little League President Don Longtin what makes a good youth baseball program. He will give you a different response.

“A lot of people measure the success of their program by how many pennants they have up,” Longtin, active in Glastonbury little League since 1967, said. “I strongly believe that that isn’t a measure of success. All-Stars are only about 5% of your program. The real success is the regular season. What we try and impress upon all the coaches is that we are in the kids business. I love baseball, it’s my passion, and if you really care about the game and want it to grow from generation to generation, it can’t just be about the kids who win the pennants. The idea is that we make sure that every player, from 5 to 18 years old has an equal opportunity to play the game.”

Longtin’s leadership has led to an enormous expansion of baseball in the Glastonbury area. When he first started, there were around 350 kids playing. Now, he says it is over 1,400 kids participating.

But the numbers are like pennants. There are more important things. Like creating a love, respect and passion for baseball that will last long after a little leaguer has recited the Little League Pledge for the last time.

“There’s a signal you send to a kid if you’re always batting him last,” Longtin said, explaining why his organization systematically rotates batting order and defensive positioning, “it’s that he isn’t that good. We introduced the pitch count long before the league did in 1997.”

The program has a very high registration rate, impressive when considering the strong soccer and lacrosse youth programs that compete for young athletes in Glastonbury.

All the equal playing time is not meant to get the kids ready to play at GHS however.

“People always talk about getting the kids ready for the next level,” Longtin said. “The ultimate next level, when you think about loving the game and wanting it to continue on, it’s that your son is doing what you did. That he is coaching your grandson. When you have that in mind when you’re coaching, you’re not only teaching how to play but you’re teaching how to coach. We are here to serve the kids. And that way, the game keeps going.”

The list of improvements Longtin has brought to Glastonbury Little League is extremely long, but the dedication ceremony for Ross Field in 1992 is a good example of how Longtin can seamlessly combine his love of baseball with his love of kids.

“We put a lot of money and effort into fields,” Longtin said. “When we built [Ross Field] in the spring of 1991, I spent a lot of time and contacted a lot of people. We got dirt from every major league park in the country, from Cooperstown, Williamsport, and even the Field of Dreams in Iowa. The night that we dedicated the field, May 2, 1992, I had kids from the teams with [MLB] banners on the field, we called each one by name and ballpark, they came on the field and dropped a vile of dirt. When it actually happened under the lights, I was in complete awe.”

If it’s cold out, Longtin doesn’t just sit around waiting for baseball to return. He is also a co-creator of the Connecticut Girls Basketball League for 13 and 14 year-old girls.

“There was nothing in basketball structured for girls but a lot for boys,” he said. “Myself and a fellow from Rocky Hill got together and started a program, and right now we have about 850 girls.”

Longtin and Glastonbury Little League seem to have the same motto. “Everybody plays.”

And as his leadership has proven, when everybody plays, everybody wins.

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