Stan Kokoska was known as, “The Father of Little League in Poland” where he started the first Little League activity in Eastern Europe, in Poland. Stan Passed away on December 21, 2017 at the age of 86. He had been a PNYBF National Representative to Poland for 28 years. He went to Poland to find his roots in 1987 and while on tour that summer, saw boys without an activity. He went to Warsaw to meet with Polish officials regarding Little League baseball and then contacted Williamsport, PA headquarters. As a result, after great effort, Poland became the first Communist country in Eastern Europe to start LL Baseball. Now, there are numerous East European countries participating and his work has spread everywhere.
Stan took early retirement from the Connecticut State Department of Education to follow up on the wishes of Little League that he organize the whole country (Poland). He enlisted the help of long time fellow worker Tony Arnista to create a Foundation “The Polish Little League Foundation”. This was later changed to avoid a conflict with a similar Foundation in Williamsport. The “Polish National Youth Baseball Foundation” was thus a reality. Kokoska and Arnista were long time colleagues in the Connecticut State Department of Education as consultants and had similar interests in their Polish activities. Both taught Polish Folk dancing
The Board of Directors, through donations, collects tons of items from numerous baseball leagues. They were repaired, packed, stored and shipped by Kokoska. Stan also traveled all over Poland introducing and coaching baseball many years. He taught Polish coaches how to re-lace gloves, fix chest protectors, build baseball fields, utilize training techniques, etc.
Stan learned how to repair desktop computers and fix those donated to PNYBF, at his expense, for Poland. Thus, through the Internet, he became able to communicate more quickly than with mailing letters that often take more than seven days to go one way.
Stan Kokoska served in the US Third Division in Korea as an Infantry Lieutenant and was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor after a daylight raid on an outpost in Korea.
He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BS Degree with Physics as a major. He received his Masters Degree from Rensselaer in New York in Sciences. He was an instructor for eight years in Windham Technical School and then became an administrator in Vocational-Technical education as a Director of the Hartford Skill Center and concurrently Vocational Satellite at the Enfield Prison.
He has been president of several groups; Polish American Congress District of CT, Pulaski Citizens Club of Willimantic and the Willimantic Kiwanis Club to name a few. He was also elected Mayor of the City of Willimantic and was the first Polish American to become Mayor of that city. Little League named him Eastern Regional volunteer of the year in 1989.
His love of sports and his desire to teach children led him to his hobby of coaching Little League and YMCA Basketball for ten years before he left to help Poland establish LL. His son Tom was a football and baseball star at Yale and was awarded seven varsity letters in the two sports. For four years at Yale, Tom roomed with and caught for Ron Darling, former NY Mets pitching star. Tom’s Yale connection led Stan Kokoska to meet President George Bush Sr. President Bush was a Yale baseball captain and was going to Poland to meet Polish Governmental Dignitaries and at Stan’s request the President agreed to help Polish LL by meeting with the four new teams in Warsaw in July 1989. They were Jaslo, Kutno, Rybnik and Wroclaw. Here, President Bush presented the first Little League Charters in Eastern Europe.
You can help support Stan’s dream of bringing baseball to all Polish Children by making a contribution in the name of the Polish National Youth Baseball Foundation, PNYBF and mail it to 222 Ocean Drive East, Stamford, CT 06902. Because of Stan Kokoska’s dedication, Baseball is expanding in Poland today. Any questions you can call Al Koproski at 203-323-9944.