America’s great national pastime has kicked off in Bay Ridge.
On April 6, the 68th Precinct Youth Council, St. Anselm Youth Activities and the St. Ephrem Youth Program held their Little League opening day ceremonies at three different locations within the community and the weather couldn’t have been better.
In fact, it was the perfect day for a ballgame as the three little leagues geared up for what they all hope will be a championship season.
The 68th Precinct Youth Council was the first to kick the season off at a 9 a.m. ceremony held on its field which is located at 8301 Shore Rd.
“This takes me back 20 or more years,” state Sen. Andrew Gounardes told this paper. “I used to play here at the 68th Precinct. I was on the light blue team and I played here and then moved over to Bay Eighth Street when I was older. Great memories, great time. I loved playing baseball at the 68th Precinct Youth Council and it’s great to be here again today.”
The league’s Baseball Commissioner Tommy Henderson was extremely pleased with ceremony. “For over 50 years the kids of Bay Ridge have been looking forward to the opening day of the 68th Precinct Youth Council baseball program,” said Henderson.
“This year did not disappoint,” he went on, noting that Gounardes and City Councilmember Justin Brannan “were on hand to throw out the opening pitch.”
In addition, he said, “Albert Caceres of Allied Building Maintenance Corp. was awarded the John Gavigan Award for his tireless efforts in making the Frank Schnurr Ballfields some of the most desirable fields to play on in Brooklyn.”
Eugene Sheremeta’s son Max plays in the league. “This means a lot to me to have my son participate on the team,” he told this paper. “I like that it offers him a chance to socialize with other kids as he’s learning about baseball. He gets better every year and he really has fun with the other kids. And it’s healthy to be outside.”
St. Anselm began its opening day ceremony at 10 a.m. at St. Anselm Field in McKinley Park at 76th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, and according to Chris Auletti, baseball commissioner for the organization, it was a perfect day to kick off the season. He thanked Co-Commissioner Rob Pampinella, Softball Commissioner Eileen Johnson and Co-Commissioner Billy Basso.
“Our program is exploding,” said Auletti. “For many grade levels we are having to split up and create new teams due to overwhelming registration. St. Anselm’s program is not limited to just St. Anselm families. We have many children who join from neighboring schools both public and private.”
Auletti explained that this was the second year St. Anselm teams were celebrating on their new field and added how grateful he was for the youth to have the luxury of their own playing field.
St. Ephrem kicked off the season at Shore Road and 95th Street with the church’s priest on hand to deliver a blessing. Baseball coach Mary Donnelly was especially proud of her daughter Liza who was a pitcher on the St. Ephrem team.
“Today’s our first game, the Eagles versus the Mets,” she said. “We’re so glad everyone came out to support us. It’s a wonderful program and today we’re St. Ephrem strong!”
Brannan admitted that he was a child at heart when it came to baseball, attending all three opening day ceremonies.
“This takes me back to being a kid and my days in the St. Pat’s little league right down the road from here and how exciting it was on opening day,” said Brannan.
“This is really the official start of spring, you know. To see this many people out and the parents involved and the coaches and volunteers, this is what makes Bay Ridge such a great community.”