During his first term as Mayor of Burlington, Bernie identified the need for a Little League baseball program for the children living in Burlington’s “Old North End.” He enlisted the support of the Mayor’s Youth Office, run by Jane (Driscoll) Sanders.
The Youth Office organized the first Little League meeting on Sunday, April 17, 1982. Ninety kids turned out to play, making it the largest Little League program in the State.
As Jane Sanders tells the story to NPR:
J. SANDERS: He told me, we’re going to start an Old North End Little League. And everybody said, oh, it can’t be done; they just can’t sustain it; we’ve tried. And he said, no, we’re going to do it. Just do a poster, and put it out, and we’ll have everybody meet.
KEITH: That first Saturday, she says 90 kids showed up, along with Bernie Sanders and two city attorneys.
J. SANDERS: Bernie and the two city attorneys were coaches for the Old North End Little League. We got them uniforms. And we still run into people who say, I was on your team.
KEITH: Now, there weren’t actually enough children for age-appropriate teams, but that didn’t stop them.
J. SANDERS: They went from 6 to 16, and we said to the kids (laughter), you older kids have to lob it to the younger kids. So it became the most compassionate and supportive place to be.
The Old North End Little League continues robustly to this day.