April 4, 2015 By Michael Florio
What started as a Bar Mitzvah project with the aim of helping little league kids in Detroit has two years later turned into a full-on game between two little league clubs—Detroit Police Athletic League vs. the Upper West Side.
The relationship between the two clubs began when Maxwell Murray, a 14-year-old who lives on the Upper West Side with his mother and in Sunnyside with his father, was required to do a Bar Mitzvah project with purpose of helping an organization or charity.
Maxwell, an avid Detroit Tigers fan who inherited a passion for the team from his grandfather, decided that he would help the Detroit PAL little league club get much-needed baseball equipment.
Maxwell and his brother, Nathan, are known among other baseball-loving kids in Sunnyside for spending hours at Lou Lodati Park playing ball most weekends.
Maxwell, a player for the Upper West Side Little League team, asked family and friends to donate equipment by setting up an online account.
The fundraiser drew donations from people across the globe. In the end he was able to provide the team with about 25 pairs of cleats, several gloves and catcher’s mitts. He soon learned that the cleats are being passed down from child to child in Detroit.
Shortly after his project, his late-grandfather took him—and his mother’s family to Detroit to watch a game. As part of the trip, the Detroit PAL invited him to join them and play a game. They told him how much they appreciated the equipment, given the hard times many of the club’s parents are facing.
Eighteen months later, when Maxwell’s brother Nathan turned 13, he too decided to help out the Detroit PAL as part of his Bar Mitzvah project.
Nathan, too, inherited a passion for the Tigers and has been playing little league baseball since he was 5 years old.
Nathan, following the lead of his brother, set up an online account and started fundraising.
His quest was even more successful—by promoting the cause with Facebook.
He was able to send the Detroit PAL about 30 pairs of cleats, gloves and mitts.
Soon after, the Detroit parents contacted the boys’ mother and said that they wanted to come to New York and have a game against the Upper West Side team. Many of the Detroit children, who have been fundraising to come to the Big Apple, will be staying at the homes of the West Side little leaguers.
Many of the Detroit kids have never been out of the greater Detroit area their entire lives.
The Detroit children have been given permission to take a day off school and their trip is being viewed by their school as an assignment, where they have to keep a journal of their travels.
The Detroit team’s next fundraising goal: to get tickets to a Mets game.
Disclosure: These are the children of Christian Murray, founder of the Sunnyside Post