Randy Novick asked which hand the player threw with.
He held up his left hand, which was already gripping a softball. Novick, patient and personable, found a glove that fit. As he adjusted it for the player’s hand, Novick recalled a visit to the man’s group home and how much he had enjoyed it.
It was just another Saturday as American Softball entered its second full season after Novick revived it last year. The league works with five group homes for mentally disabled people throughout Queens. There are about 50 players who all get a chance to hit, run the bases and play the field.
“The players are just happy to play because the rules are, there are no rules,” he said. “It’s nice to get to see the players do something they normally wouldn’t do.”
This year, it was easier to get started for Novick. Last season, he had problems finding a field and getting funding.
He said he hopes the league can one day expand citywide or even across the country.
Novick, a Howard Beach resident, credited State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich for supporting his efforts. The organizer recruited coaches from counselors to childhood friends who wanted to lend a hand.
Addison John, a counselor at Services for the UnderServed, said clients normally start looking forward to the game by the middle of the week. Services for the UnderServed provides support for individuals with mental illness and other challenges.
“They love it,” John said. “As Friday comes, they’re ready to go.”
The coaches include Dore DeQuattro, a musician and lifelong friend of Novick’s. DeQuattro said he has enjoyed being able to give personal attention to the players. He added while his band regularly plays for the developmentally disabled, the league lets him get to work with individuals on a one-on-one basis.
“I just love these guys,” he said. “I love to give them a little extra personal attention.”