Darien Little League honored at Hall of Fame Awards dinner
Published 9:53 pm, Wednesday, October 20, 2010
OLD GREENWICH -- The largest Little League organization in the United States was honored Monday night, as was the man responsible for its growth.
Tony Farren, the ongoing four-year president Darien Little League, accepted the award of Darien Sports Person of the Year in front of more than 600 people Fairfield County Sports Commission's sixth annual Sports Night Hall of Fame Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich.
Farren was humble and insisted the award was taken on behalf of the Little League organization it town, but it was under his guidance and leadership that 1,474 boys and girls signed up for Darien Little League this past year. There are 5,969 Little League leagues around the country, and Darien tops them all in participation numbers. The 5-to-12-year-old-player infrastructure also includes the Challenger program, which allows mentally and physically handicapped children to play.
"When you see the joy on their faces, that's really what makes me most proud," Farren said Monday night.
Farren was one of many representatives who received such an honor during the dinner, as each town had a person, team or organization recognized for excellence in sports achievement.
"It's a great achievement and honor, but this is for Darien Little League," Farren said. "I'm proud of what we've been able to achieve, and it says something about the parents and the kids in (Darien) that such a small town gets so much involvement and participation in the sport."
It was a big 2010 for the organization, too. In May, the town got recognition from Governor Jodi Rell, as she dedicated a day as Darien Little League Day across the state. The 12-year-old softball team won the District I championship, and four baseball teams in two divisions advanced to the semifinals in their respective district tournaments, with one of them advancing to the finals.
As the News previously reported, Farren has stated he's just as happy about the league's growth as he is for Operation DLL Cares program in which the league collects essentials and sends packages overseas to the United States troops involved in the war effort.
Founded in 1952, Darien Little League has seen its participation numbers spike intensely in the past decade. In a town that covets its good football, lacrosse and hockey, how did Little League baseball manage to wrangle in so many players?
"You look at what's been done, participation-wise, with the current high school baseball coach and the previous one," Farren said. "There was a three-year period, after the high school was being built, that the team didn't have a home field. ... But the coaches continued to build the youth program."
In other awards, the New Canaan girls ice hockey team took home the Sports Person of the Year distinction, which is what Darien's girls ice hockey team did in 2009.
"It was a real pleasant surprise, believe me," Rams head coach Rich Bulan said about receiving the honor.
A year after Darien supplanted New Canaan as the dominant team in the conference -- the Blue Wave girls won the honor for their town in 2009 -- the Rams took the title right back.
"We got to return the favor," Bulan said with a laugh. "Darien very much deserved it last year, and it was very nice for them to recognize us as far as this year. I just thought it was really cool for two towns like Darien and New Canaan to have back-to-back hockey teams being represented as sports persons of the year."