As always, Bob and Tina Muzikowski are our founders and spiritual guides. Bob served as President until 2010 and then became Chairman of the Board, while Tina served as Treasurer until 2011 and then became Board Member Emeritus, as they are both pursuing the full-time success of Chicago Hope Academy (see below). See the listing of other officers on the Contacts page.
In 1991, Bob and Tina and other community leaders began helping youth in their neighborhoods by starting the Near North Little League in the Cabrini-Green Housing Projects. This League won a Point of Light award from former President George H. Bush and a Youth Services Award from HUD and Secretary Jack Kemp for its outstanding role in helping to change the lives of children in urban Chicago.
In 1993, the Muzikowski’s founded the East Harlem Little League in New York City, where Bob grew up, graduated from Columbia University, and began his insurance business.
In 1995, they expanded Little League baseball to the Near West area of Chicago, where the Muzikowski family still resides. The Muzikowski’s teamed up with neighborhood resident and local school teacher/coach/mentor Michael F. Clark to inspire many volunteers into action and build a field of dreams called Livingston Field named after the late David Livingston, Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District until 1998. For the first three years, the field was called “Tri-Taylor Field” to recognize the location’s neighborhood. In addition, the League greatly appreciates the strong civic and community support of Mayor Daley and his Department of Planning and Development, Aldermen Dan Solis (25th), Bob Fioretti (2nd), Walter Burnett (27th), and Ed Smith (28th), the Chicago Park District and Superintendent Tim Mitchell, and Dr. Ken Schmidt, President of the Illinois Medical District.
Regarding the League’s impact, Bob Muzikowski said, “There is no one big, magic solution to the complex issues facing urban communities today. But there are 500 or 5000 little solutions that can add up.” Bob Muzikowski is the author of “Safe At Home” (Zondervan 2001), a personal account of his life and his work with needy children and their families. He was played by Keanu Reeves in the 2001 Paramount movie “Hardball”. Mayor Richard M. Daley said, “Bob Muzikowski’s baseball program has touched the lives of hundreds of kids and made Chicago a better city. He is living proof that one person can make a difference.”
In 2004, Bob and Tina and a wonderful group of donors and believers bought the closed Children of Peace– St. Callistus campus from the Archdiocese of Chicago a block away from Livingston Field and resurrected it as Chicago Hope Academy. The completely renovated Christian high school opened its doors in 2005 to a full class of freshman along with a smaller class of sophomores. Each year the Academy has added another class of freshman to now be a full four-year high school with a waiting list. This school environment is an extension of Bob’s and Tina’s vision to serve youth and their families year-round for full athletic, as well as spiritual and academic development. Chicago Hope Academy givers also refurbished Altgeld Park in partnership with the Chicago Park District as a multiplex for regulation size football and soccer games in addition to baseball. The $300,000 upgrade included a sprinkler system, resodding, and lengthening the whole field, including a new retaining wall, lighting, and scoreboard.
In 2009, the Chicago Park District officially acquired Livingston Field from the Illinois Medical District. In 2012-13, they spent over $1M using TIFF funds to rebuild the park by removing the cul de sac and adding an additional 20 feet of field space. Artificial turf and full lighting was installed. The new turf includes two baseball fields and one overlapping soccer field with portable nets. To the west of Livingston Field, a fenced-in community park with a bocci ball court, walkways, and benches was added. 2012-13 also marked the installation of college-grade artificial turf at Altgeld Park and additional stands and periphery fencing through a cost-sharing partnership of the Chicago Park District and Chicago Hope Academy.
The Near West Little League is in its 23rd year (2017 season) and is chartered by the U.S. Little League in Williamsport, PA. NWLL is a volunteer effort. We’re always looking for committed coaches and umpires to positively impact the lives of the players.