League celebrates 60th anniversary and district win
By Sabina Mollot
The cold and wind that had been accurately predicted for Saturday morning was no match for the 700-plus members of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League, many of whom celebrated the league’s 60th anniversary with a parade and ceremony.
The parade, an annual event, was attended this year by Bobby Valentine, former general manager to the Mets and Red Sox as well as a former pro player. Following a pair of bagpipers, Valentine marched with the kids, who resembled a moving rainbow in their new uniforms and colorful team banners, through Stuyvesant Town and then on to Con Ed Field.
At the field, Valentine offered the players a pep talk, telling them they should feel sorry for anyone there who wasn’t in uniform, “because if they could, they would trade places with you.”
He added that if players mess up on the field, they shouldn’t worry too much about it, sharing a story about when he was a little leaguer himself.
“I was a hotshot,” he told them. “I was leading the league in home runs.” However, Valentine then admitted he was actually tied with another player for the top spot. He recalled how on the field the league used, there was a rickety fence “that almost hung down by the end of the season.
“I was center field and the other guy came to the plate and he hit a high fly,” Valentine added. “I ran backwards. I was going to get it. I stepped on the wood fence and I fell over the wood fence and I landed on the other side of the wood fence. So you can imagine how embarrassed I was. I was even more embarrassed when I saw the ball coming down right behind second base. True story.”
But, he quipped on his various missteps throughout little league, “I did all those things and I still got to the major league. So get back, get there.”
He also told players — and parents — that they shouldn’t fear injuries, because while they do happen, players eventually learn how to generally avoid them.
“The way you build courage is by practicing,” said Valentine. “When the ball is coming down from the sky, you understand how to get in the right place to intersect that ball.” He concluded by telling parents, another fear kids have is that they will fail, so he advised them to tell their kids a good effort, not the outcome of a game, is what’s most important. Then, he said, “that fear of failure will be diminished. They will know they can accomplish what you expect.”
Other honored guests were the PSLL’s nine and ten-year-old minors division players, who last summer, won a district tournament and were just one game away from making state finals. The district covers most of Manhattan and the west Bronx.
The recent victory, noted Jeff Ourvan, president of the PSLL, “is deeper than any team has played in 60 years of Peter Stuyvesant Little League.”
The champs were then individually presented, by Valentine, with custom made jackets that noted their 2015 victory on the backs.
Other guests included local elected officials: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Council Member Dan Garodnick, whose older son Asher joined the league this year. Hoylman presented the league with a State Senate proclamation in celebration of the league’s 60th anniversary.
The pols all spoke at the podium, with at one point, a bewildered Kavanagh asking, “What’s up with the mustaches?” This was in response to the fact that around a dozen players wore fake mustaches, who then shouted out, “Bobby Valentine!”
Valentine famously wore a fake mustache as a disguise during a game in 1999 from which he was ejected. While free of any facial hair on Saturday, he still clearly appreciated the gesture, chuckling when his name was called out.
The ceremony also included the parents’ pledge, in which parents are made to say aloud that they’ll respect the decisions of the umpires. Andrea Schmidt of Con Ed, who provides the field for the league, also spoke to the kids. Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town, was also in attendance. Julianna Fabrizio sang the national anthem while Kiki Kops recited the pledge of allegiance. A mustache-wearing Alex Ramirez caught the first pitch of the season, thrown by Valentine.