Some 25 years after playing for Canton Little League Stan Krzanowski enrolled his son in the organization.
Before long he moved from the stands to the dugout.
“I was standing there; next thing I knew I was the coach,” Krzanowski said.
That was in 1977 but Canton Little League proved to be a long-term commitment and today Krzanowski serves as president, board chairman and treasurer.
He held many titles over the years including player agent, vice president, and treasurer. He even managed the majors Giants team, which he had played for as a kid.
“Whatever was needed,” is how he describes being called on for various tasks. “I grew into it.”
Thirty-five years with the organization may have been enough to qualify Krzanowski for the national award he is set to receive next week but he chose to do a few other things as well.
For one there’s the Community of Concern and Canton Youth Services Bureau, where he’s been instrumental in initiatives, including after-school programs, “The Cave” teen center, which offers activities for High school students on Friday nights and middle school counterparts on Saturdays.
He's also been involved in numerous field improvement projects.
For good measure, he’s been active in the Canton Volunteer Fire Association, and volunteers at such events as the annual Lobsterfest and Sam Collins Day celebration.
Krzanowski fills part of his days with three grandchildren but also coordinates fundraisers, seeks grant opportunities, sells ads and billboard space to local businesses, organizes volunteers to work on fields and restocks refreshments and supplies at the Cave. He even empties the garbage.
Wendy Jenkins Van de Bogart, who was involved with Canton Little League for 10 years, several as vice president of baseball, said Krzanowski spends countless hours working behind the scenes.
“The amount of time he puts in that nobody knows about is amazing,” she said.
Krzanowski said it's just engrained at this point.
“It’s become part of my life,” he said. “I enjoy accomplishing tasks. If you set your mind to it, you find people will help you.”
Krzanowski said he also enjoys seeing youth play ball and grow up. In some cases, he’s seen players he’s coached come back with their own children.
Monday night, Krzanowski will celebrate his 71st birthday in New York City by receiving a Lewis Hine Award for Service to Children and Youth. The honor is given to just a handful of people each year by the National Child Labor Committee. It's named after the NCLC photographer who documented early-20th century exploitation of children. The organization states that it honors "those individuals who, as professionals or volunteers, give of themselves and go the extra mile for the well-being of young people."
First Selectman Richard Barlow nominated Krzanowski.
“When I saw the letter for nominations, I immediately thought of Stan,” Barlow said.
In addition to interactions with Krzanowski in his official capacity, Barlow has a long history with the honoree.
As an 8-year-old growing up on Thayer Avenue, Barlow knew Krzanowski as the captain in neighborhood "sandlot" games. Krzanowski liked the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that wasn't popular in Canton but could boast the talents of another Stan — “The Man” Musial.
Krzanowski, known for his skills at second base, had some success as a player in Little League, on the “sandlots” and later in high school. His 1951 team in Little League were district champions and the school won a state title while he was there.
Krzanowski has been “the man” for Canton baseball, Barlow said.
“The number of youth who have benefited from Stan’s volunteer efforts over the last thirty-five years is lengthy,” Barlow wrote in his nomination letter. “If there were one word to describe Stan’s volunteer efforts it would be unheralded. He asks what’s needed and then delivers. No fanfare. No celebration.”
Julius Fialkiewicz, town native, business owner, park and recreation commissioner and former selectman has also known Krzanowski for numerous years. He said the honor is well warranted.
“As long as I’ve known Stan, he’s been an asset to the town and he deserves this,” Fialkiewicz said.
Krzanowski said the most important part of the honor is to thank those who have supported the various youth efforts.
“I would like to thank my wife Diane, son Stephen, daughter Amy, the many volunteers that contributed in many ways, the business community and the employees of the town of Canton for their continued support and understanding, which made all of this possible.”