Alex Menachery’s years-long journey to the Eagle Scout is finally coming to an end: The 18-year-old West Hempstead resident has been officially approved for the highest rank in the Scouts, a year after starting his Eagle project, to commemorate West Hempstead’s 1962 Senior League World Series heroes.
Big League Baseball is a division of Little League Baseball for players ages 13 and up.
Minashiri, a June graduate of Chaminade High School in Minola, sat for his final Eagle interview on August 25, when Scout guides Tom O’Neill and Ron Paracha accompanied him as he presented details of his project. Now all that’s left is for the leaders in Scout Troop 240 to schedule the official Eagle Scout party at one of the monthly Honor Courts.
Menacheri’s interview took place exactly one week after the 60th anniversary of West Hempstead’s victory in the Seniors’ Association World Championships on August 18, 1962. As he had completed work on the memorial in April, he waited for the anniversary to celebrate his achievement.
The decision to commemorate the historic team, the first from Long Island to win the First Division Series, came after lengthy deliberation. “When I was deciding what I wanted to do for the Eagle Scout project, I was trying to think about the things that had the greatest impact on me at West Hempstead,” Menacheri explained.
“At first I was looking at the church, Saint Thomas the Apostle, because I’ve been there since I was really young, or the Knights of Columbus,” he added. “But they have a lot of stuff already renovated, and they already had the Eagle project that was done a couple of years ago, so I started expanding to other places in West Hempstead.”
“My mom and I stumbled upon an article from Patch from 2012, where he talked about the team, and how Echo Park was very much built on that team,” Minacheri recalls. “I’ve been in the Little League since I was really young, and I’ve never heard of this team. I don’t think any of my friends who have played in the Little League know about this team.”
Mishari hopes to revive interest in a forgotten piece of history. “I thought maybe I should create something so that not only everyone who plays Little League at Echo Park, but the whole town will know about it,” he added. “I just wanted to give some history to the forgotten city.”
Menachery emphasized the role of the 1962 team in developing Echo Park from an informal community meeting place into a convenient park in the town of Hempstead. “It’s very different than it was back then. That whole area was actually just a baseball field, pretty much surrounded and covered with trees,” he explained.
“It was just an area that was turned into a field by the community,” Minashiri continued.
“It was not something the government or the town of Hempstead owned at the time. It was just the families of the area who dug the playground so the boys could play. After they won, it started turning into a more serious and organized field.”
In order to place the plate, Menachery chose a place near the field, not far from another plate, this plate in honor of the West Hempstead Lions. The new metal plaque contains an engraved image of the team, a list of players’ names, a special note acknowledging the team manager and coach, and a credit note to the Menachery and Boy Scouts. In addition to installing the panel, Menachery also built a paved area surrounded by plants adjacent to the panel.
The 1962 first division team, led by manager Joseph Sarkona, won the national championship in the league’s second year of existence. Sarcona was a World War II veteran, awarded the Order of the Purple Heart for his service in North Africa and Europe. When the Herald spoke with Menachery as he prepared to start the project last fall, Sarcona’s son, William, expressed his appreciation for Menachery’s efforts.
“It honors the baseball team, my hometown, as well as my father, and Echo Park, who all played a part in this significant achievement, which was a first for Long Island, the first baseball title in a Little League World Series,” Sarcona said. .
Menashery has yet to think much about his Eagle Party—understandably, as he’s starting his first year at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, where he’s planning a seven-year medical program, with a specialization in orthopedic medicine.