September 20, 2019

Girls Little League Pioneer, Robert F. Amaral, Honored

EP City Council names girls softball field, "The Robert F. Amaral Field."

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The East Providence City Council at its June 18, 2019 meeting, voted unanimously to name the girls little league field at Pierce Stadium after a long time league volunteer, Robert F. Amaral. The field has been unnamed for decades after former Central Little League president Amaral lobbied the city for its construction. "Girls were not able to play Little League Baseball according to national rules until 1974," said at-large councilman Bob Rodericks. Rodericks sponsored the request to name the field for Amaral. "Bob Amaral had been a strong advocate for girls to have the opportunity to play in organized Little League. In 1974, and due in major part to the diligent resolve of Bob Amaral, girls in East Providence began to play organized Little League softball. Girls also have the option to play on a baseball team," Rodericks told his council colleagues.

"I want to thank the council for this great honor. It was a pleasure to have helped these girls play softball," Amaral told the audience after the award. "It wasn't fair that just the boys could play and not the girls. My daughter asked me at dinner one night why we don't play and I was always with the boys. I got the look from my wife and I said okay, you get enough girls and we'll play," said Amaral. The Amarals lived near Pierce Field at the time and upon driving home from work the next night, Robert Amaral found over 16 girls waiting at the field. "I got some equipment and we played ball," he said. Amaral's two daughters and wife Barbara were among other family members and former players in the city hall audience Tuesday night.

"I saw the laughter and smiles of those girls on the field and I had to bring this to the attention of EP Central LL." It took a while but Amaral lobbied some reluctant male little league officials to allow girls to play in the league. In a nearby city, a girl was planning a lawsuit to gain the same right. "After a five hour meeting with league officers they said girls could play but only if I ran the division and raised any necessary funds. In two weeks we raised enough sponsorships and we had a large group of girls playing ball," said Amaral. The girls weren't allowed to use the boys fields or league funding but they persevered with Amaral at the helm. Eventually the city built the girls their own field which is the same field now named in Amaral's honor many years later.

Amaral, now 84, was a Little League volunteer for thirty years. During this tenure he served as a team manager, director, League President and a New England District Administrator for girls team softball development. Amaral is 1954 graduate of East Providence High School and a 1961 Graduate of Rhode Island Electronics Technical School.

"Mr. Amaral is a great mentor, coach and friend to many of us," said a former player and one time league president Tim Costa who attended the council meeting. Current EPCLL president Chuck Michael was in attendance. "All of our little leaguers congratulate and thank you, Mr. Amaral," said Michael. Riverside Little League president Brian Rutkowski and Rumford president Eddie Wencis were also present along with many Central Little League board members.

"Our family is so proud of dad, and it was great to see old players there to honor him too," said Amaral's daughter Robin Amaral Lozito. "What a great celebration for our dad and all girls who enjoy the game," added Barbara Amaral Farrand.

The East Providence Central Little League is in its sixty-seventh year of existence. East Providence Central Little League officially started in 1953 with four sponsors and a handful of volunteers.

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