Dan Gisonno is stepping down as the president of the Pine Hill Little League (PHLL), completing a successful three-year reign as leader of the organization. He was the player agent for three years before becoming president.
Gisonno, 40, was the on-site coordinator and master of ceremonies for the Lynn Home Run Derby that concluded Sunday at Pine Hill’s Chris Spagnoli Field. Pine Hill is also hosting the Lynn City Series that concludes this week.
PHLL board members and parents credited Gisonno for his years of dedication and efficient management of the organization.
“Dan was always all about the kids,” said vice president Jill Avery, who will be the new president. “He did a great job for our program and we’re all grateful to him for his dedication and outstanding leadership.”
Avery said the league will recognize Gisonno with a special presentation at the awards banquet.
“It’s a surprise,” said Avery, refusing to reveal what the league’s plans are for a suitable tribute to its popular administrator.
Though he is stepping down as president, Gisonno will be returning to the coaching ranks in the league. His son, Matt, is graduating, but his 11-year-old son, Daniel, will be playing in the league next season. Matt and Daniel were members of the 12-year-old All-Star team this season.
“As the president and a league administrator, I can’t manage the All-Star team and things like that, so I wanted to be part of the All-Star tournament in my last year ,” said Gisonno.
Gisonno said player participation in PHLL has declined since he started in the league seven years ago.
“The numbers have decreased every year,” said Gisonno. “When I first started, it was up to 250 players, now we’re down to around 150 – that’s 100 fewer kids.”
Gisonno said he would support a merger with West Lynn American Little League.
“I don’t see how it can sustain without a merger,” he said. “I know West Lynn’s numbers are way down and so are ours, so it would only make sense.”
He said the selection of a 12-year-old All-Star team for the District 16 Williamsport Tournament has become unbalanced in the city.
“We picked 13 kids out of 16 age-appropriate (11-and-12-year-olds) for our All-Star team,” said Gisonno.
He advocated for a city-wide merger that would mean two Little League organizations for the entire city.
“I think two leagues in the city would be great,” said Gisonno. “I don’t think you’ll ever see it happen, but that would be great. That would be a great push forward for the city. I would back a merger 100 percent. I would be all for a merger. I think it would be one of the best things for the city.”
Speaking about All-Star tournament competition, Gisonno said there’s a reason that Lynn Babe Ruth is a district champion almost every year while the Little League teams struggle to advance in District 16.
“Why do you think Lynn Babe Ruth is in the championships every single year?” he said. “One team. One town. I think if Lynn had one or two Little League All-Star teams, we’d be able to compete out of the district level and we’d be in the states every single year because the All-Stars would be so good.”
He noted the recent success of the Peabody Western Little League program that won District 16 this year and sent a team to the World Series in 2009.
“Peabody West is a monster – they won everything this year,” said Gisonno. “They just have so many kids to choose from. I think the Lynn presidents have to sit down with the district staff and have a legitimate conversation and say, ‘These are the numbers, this is where we are, the numbers have been consistent for years and what should we do, what can we do to make this better.’ I think that’s what needs to be done. Little League is dying and it’s too bad.”