Lifelong youth sports advocate will be sorely missed

Scott Kinzinger and I sat at the scorer's table during last year's Honesdale Little Baseball Association's championship week.

The Grove Street sports complex that bears Scott's name was absolutely buzzing with activity.

The Senior Division finals were playing out right in front of us at Fred Reisch Memorial Field.

Meanwhile, an exciting consolation contest was unfolding at Joe Cobb Field while an impromptu all-star practice took place on the Ed Rickard diamond.

The parking lots were overflowing with cars. The concession stand was hopping … delectable scents filled the late-summer air. Fans packed the stands, lounged in folding chairs and cheered for their team.

Scott had his hands full on this particular day. He was acting as announcer for the Senior Division game, keeping score, eating a hot dog and holding court simultaneously.

There was a constant stream of kids and parents coming up to him to ask questions or just say hi.

Despite all the apparent chaos, Scott appeared to be in his element.

“It doesn't get any better than this,” he said with a smile during a brief respite in the craziness. “I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world tonight.”

Lifelong Advocate

For me, that line perfectly sums up Scott Kinzinger's personality.

I've known him all my life, ever since we ourselves were playing in the HLBA more than 40 years ago … never suspecting that he'd eventually become one of Wayne County's most passionate youth sports advocates.

And so, I was stunned and saddened when I received a text message early Wednesday morning informing me of Scott's unexpected passing.

It took me most of the day to come to terms with his death. After all, Scott has been a fixture in my professional life for a quarter century.

I'd hear from him first in mid-February as Little League sign-ups drew near. We'd then trade phone calls and emails weekly until August when the season finally wound down.

He always made sure I had all the information I needed and faithfully submitted game reports for his beloved Wayne Bank Dodgers, win or lose.

Friendship

Scott was a complicated man … a big guy with big appetites and strong opinions. He enjoyed a large circle of friends, but also had the ability to rub some folks the wrong way.

No matter which camp you may have fallen into, though, one thing is undeniable: Scott always put the kids first.

“That's the reason it was fun to work with him,” said longtime HLBA official Charlie Rollison. “Scott stepped on some toes over the years, but you needed to understand why. He always put the kids first and I respected him for it.”

Scott served as president of the league for many years. More importantly, he was a volunteer coach who had a positive impact on an entire generation of youth baseball players.

For his efforts, Scott was inducted into the Wayne Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. That same year, a sign was erected at Fred Reisch Field, naming the Grove Street Sports Complex in his honor.

Fond Farewell

One of the things I'll always remember about Scott is his generosity. He constantly gave of himself and of his time.

For example, Scott put up a post on social media this week. He had several extra fishing poles at home and wanted to share them. His solution? Give them away to local kids who didn't have one.

In addition to his generosity, Scott was well-known for his organizational abilities.

Charlie Rollison is the current HLBA president. He and Scott have known each other for decades ... sometimes as adversaries on the field and other times as colleagues sitting on the HLBA's governing board.

“To say that he was important to Honesdale Little Baseball would be an understatement,” Charlie said. “We're having a board meeting tonight to try and figure out where we go from here.”

Charlie has struggled to come to terms with Scott's passing, but he wanted to express one sentiment above all else:

“The most important thing that I'd like to say is that Scott was my friend. I miss him already.”

So do I, Charlie. And do the kids of Wayne County.

RIP, Scott.