BLOOMFIELD, NJ – The Sri Lankan Navy Baseball Team made its first visit to the United States last month.
While here, they made a pit stop in Bloomfield at Wright’s Field to play the Bloomfield Buzzards in an exhibition game. The Bloomfield Buzzards are an amateur baseball franchise currently made up of three adult teams, ages ranging from 18 to 54 years old.
The June 7 matchup, in coordination with the Sri Lankan Navy, was set up by Sri Lankan native Rajiv Fernando and sponsored by the Amateur Baseball Association of Clifton. Special accommodations were made by the Township of Bloomfield and their Parks & Recreation Department to get the field prepped and roads cleared.
The five-hour event was staffed by volunteers of the Bloomfield Babe Ruth League. The entire game was live-streamed and remains posted via Facebook through the Bloomfield Buzzards page which now has more than 3,300 views internationally.
Sri Lanka took the lead in the first inning and held it most of the game. The score got within two runs, with Sri Lanka up 10-8 going into the ninth inning. Sri Lanka tacked on another two runs, making the final score 12-9 in their favor.
While the game itself brought much excitement for all in attendance, it was the pregame ceremonies and especially the seventh-inning stretch that most were talked about as it was conducted with Sri Lankan traditions. Be sure to find the Facebook post from a computer and fast forward to 2 hr 15 min to see the seventh inning stretch (“dance-off”) between both teams.
After the game, Buzzards Manager – Jonathan Cipollina said, “I’ve played a lot of baseball in my years, but this was the most fun. Hats off to our new international friends and congratulations on a great outing. You guys are complete gentlemen and we were honored to host not only your first game on American soil, but also your first game ever played under lights.”
Between all three Buzzards teams, there are 42 men on the total active roster, of which 26 were dressed for this game. “The only stress I had this game was figuring out a way to get all 26 Buzzards into the game, even if it was playing them out of their normal position. Our guys were all deserving to play in this inaugural game and possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Cipollina added. Rajiv Fernando commented, “Thank you to the Township of Bloomfield and the Bloomfield Buzzards for your hospitality. Another big thank you for the random Sri Lankans who came down to support and watch their countrymen play.”
Over the next few days, the Sri Lankan Team went on to beat the Branchburg Tortugas, 11-3; then lost to the Bergen Bulls, 3-1; but came back to beat the Wood-Ridge Titans, 9-4. The commissioner of the Amateur Baseball Association, Larry Frank, stated, “What a great experience for all involved. I’m very proud of each of these teams and their respective townships for making accommodations to get these games played on schedule with very short notice. Aside from all four games being competitive and entertaining, everyone played a part in making this visit from the Sri Lankan Navy Baseball Team most memorable.”
Anyone interested in playing local amateur baseball in New Jersey from April through November, ages 13-17, can connect through www.BloomfieldBabeRuth.com or for ages 18 to 35+ through www.AllStarTeamStats.com.
Editor’s note: This article was submitted by Christina Jacobsen