By Sabina Mollot
In what has become one of the community’s most beloved traditions, hundreds of children and their families marched through Stuyvesant Town on Saturday morning for the annual Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade. The event, which kicked off a season of youth baseball, softball and teeball, was celebrated with a ceremony at Con Ed Field following the march that included a surprise visit from retired pro baseball player Dwight “Doc” Gooden.
While at the field, the famous pitcher who played for the Mets and the Yankees as well as the Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, told the young players he understood the importance of little league.
“Because I know that we all start here,” said Gooden. “You’ll develop friendships that will last forever.”
The Tampa native also advised the little leaguers to: “Play hard. Respect the rules. Respect the umpires. Listen to the coaches” and as for their fellow players, “Cheer them up, because one day you’ll need the cheering up.”
Another tip was simply for the players to do their best. “When you guys are at practice, practice hard because how you practice is going to be how you play. Don’t cheat yourself and don’t cheat your teammates.” But most importantly, he concluded, “Have fun and enjoy the game.”
Along with the visit from Doc, the event was also made special for the PSLL due to its getting to celebrate a 2013 District 23 Majors Baseball tournament team — the league’s first title in 57 years. Additionally, this season will also be the league’s first time playing on an AstroTurf field rather than a grass one. The long-awaited conversion to turf, first proposed a decade ago, was sponsored by the field’s owner, Con Ed.
A rep for the utility, Vice President of Environmental Health & Safety Andrea Schmitz, told the players how seeing the field covered in AstroTurf was important to her personally. “It means a lot to me because I’m a resident of Stuyvesant Town,” she said. “So I know how important the field is.”
Other guests who spoke at the field included three local elected officials: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick.
In his brief pep talk, Garodnick told little leaguers if they play hard, it doesn’t matter if they win or lose games. This prompted PSLL President Peter Ramos to jokingly inform Garodnick that his son, Asher, had been traded.
Also included in the ceremony was the singing of “God Bless America” by PSLL member Kiki Kops and the national anthem by members Jamie Kurtzer and Maya Donovan. All the members then took the little league pledge to always do their best, followed by the parents at the field being made to take their own pledge to offer positive encouragement to their kids and respect the decisions of the umpires. The event then concluded with Gooden throwing the ceremonial first pitch of the season, which was caught by PSLL player Ethan Pascale.
The Peter Stuyvesant Little League, established in 1956, today has over 750 members between the ages of five and 16.