Connor Bailo always saw himself as a baseball coach and a CEO. The high school junior just never imagined filling both roles before his 17th birthday.
But earlier this year, Connor’s former coach asked him to take over the Trumbull Travel, his old Little League team in Trumbull, Connecticut. Connor happily agreed. And this spring, he’ll try to lead his team of 10 year olds to an East Shore Travel League title — when he’s not preparing for his driver’s license test.
“I love being around kids, and I’ve wanted to coach since I was little,” Connor says. “Sometimes they’re hard to control and to lead, but it’s fun to see what type of influence I have.”
Connor is used to having a positive impact on kids through baseball. At just 14 years old, he came up with the idea for Baseballs for a Better Community (BB4C), a nonprofit organization that collects and donates baseballs to help underprivileged youth experience and fall in love with the game.
BB4C officially launched last year. And as the 2016 Major League Baseball season begins, Connor celebrates the organization’s first anniversary by continuing to reach his goals of collecting one million baseballs and turning BB4BC into an official major league affiliate.
Connor was inspired to establish BB4C during a trip to watch the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, in 2012. As he and his dad bounced from stadium to stadium to watch games, they came across a team from Uganda that was playing without shoes.
“I had seen a story on the news about the Ugandan team,” Connor recalls. “They were so used to playing without basic equipment, like shoes, that even though Little League had supplied them with gear they decided not to wear it.”
The news coverage motivated Little Leaguers and fans to donate equipment to team Uganda and other international squads that lacked basic equipment. But Connor wanted to do even more.
“I was sitting in the stands and it kind of hit me that you can outgrow hats, gloves, or cleats,” Connor says. “But you never outgrow a baseball.”
Photos: Connor Bailo