Lyme-Old Lyme Little League Honors Jay Berryman's "Distinguished Service"

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Published on Lymeline.com on May 6, 2011: The weather was kind last Saturday as Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Little League celebrated Opening Day under sunny skies with games for children of all ages, the ever-popular dunk-tank, food galore, colorful face-painting, and, of course, those all-important opening games of baseball and softball.

During the more serious part of the day when the teams were introduced, the Pledge said, various announcements made and acknowledgments given, a special award was presented to long-serving Little League volunteer James "Jay" Berryman.

Berryman had been lured to the ground on the pretext of explaining to the large crowd a little about Steve Shaw, after whom the LOL Little League Distinguished Service Award is named. Mr. Shaw tragically passed away in 2008 as the result of an automobile accident, leaving behind his widow Marylee, daughter Lindsay and son Patrick, who still live in Old Lyme.

Berryman, who is a partner in the law firm of Suisman Shapiro in New London, told the players and parents that he could, "Sum up Steve," as a "Real competitor, but also a true friend." Berryman went on to describe Shaw as, "The ultimate team-mate ... and selfless in his commitment to the league to the point that when you realize your kids aren't going to play for the Yankees or the Red Sox, but you keep going ... and giving ... anyway."

Shaw had coached his own son along with many more Lyme-Old Lyme boys for numerous years and then went on to serve as an umpire, while continuing to support the Lyme-Old Lyme Little League, Babe Ruth and Major League organizations in a variety of ways until his untimely death.

Berryman tacitly described Shaw as, "Someone who would (metaphorically) beat your brains out during a game and then go out with for an adult beverage afterwards."

The tables were turned when Paul Reid, current president of the LOL Little League, then presented Berryman with the 2011 Steve Shaw Distinguished Service Award winner. A clearly surprised and very emotional Berryman commented afterwards, "It was a good thing I was wearing sunglasses."

Reid noted Berryman, "Began his service to Lyme-Old Lyme Little League in 1996 and, although he no longer has children in the league, he continues to serve the league on an as-needed basis to this day."

According to Reid, Berryman's service started, "As a coach in the instructional league. As his sons grew he moved up the ranks, coaching in the Farm League and then moving on to the Majors. Jay spent a few years as the Manager of the Major League Red Sox. He was also involved with District All-Star level play most notably as a coach of the 11/12 All-Stars under manager Steve Shaw. "

But Reid explained, "Jay's love of the game did not stop with coaching. His intelligence, attention to detail and mental capacity served him well as he took on the challenge of umpiring in both the baseball and softball programs. He oozes professionalism ... never pompous, never demeaning, but always in control ... courteous, but stern with managers and coaches ... always timely and positive for the kids."

Despite the widely-held esteem for Berryman on the field, Reid mentioned that it was perhaps his off-the-field activities, which were most valuable to the League. Berryman was a key factor in moving from the informality of the organization prior to 2001 to the "more professional " group they are today, still faithfully following Roberts' Rules of Order as first required by Berryman many years ago.

Reid concluded, "Jay epitomizes the characteristics expected of recipients of the Steve Shaw award."

And an almost speechless Berryman -- a rare event -- confessed, "I am beyond touched. Steve was my friend, which makes it so special. This is one of my coolest moments ... possibly the coolest."