By Sabina Mollot
By Saturday morning, a downpour that had gone on throughout the night cleared up just in time for one of Stuyvesant Town’s most important annual traditions, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade.
Hundreds of kids, clad in their new, colorful uniforms, marched alongside former Mets player and coach Mookie Wilson from First Avenue to Con Ed Field, where they got a pep talk from Wilson and a ceremony highlighting the league’s recent victories.
Jeff Ourvan, the league’s president, discussed the $16,000 the PSLL just received as a result of the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” lawsuit settlement. Ourvan said the funds, which came from unclaimed checks from the settlement, would be spent on batting cages as well as turf repairs.
Ourvan also praised players who last season, he noted, took home some impressive tournament wins.
Of a 13 and 14-year-old girls’ softball team, Ourvan said, “It was the first time in PSLL history we went on to play a state tournament.” The nine and 10-year-old baseball team and the 11 and 12-year-old team also each won a Manhattan championship.
“It shows you the quality of our league is improving,” he added.
This being the inaugural year of the league’s Challenger Division for disabled players, a guest speaker was David Saville, a former Challenger ball player with Down Syndrome. At the field, Saville, who is now employed as an equipment manager for the national football team at Clemson University, told the kids, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
The next speaker was Wilson, who, while standing on the bleachers, told the crowd he thought the parental support of the league and the private turf field was pretty impressive.
“You have a corporate sponsor creating an opportunity for your kids to enjoy baseball for over 60 years,” he said. “I know this is something you think you see everywhere, but you don’t.”
Wilson also praised the players who, earlier in the ceremony, received jackets for their teams’ aforementioned victories, before admitting that the ring he got for the 1986 World Series is still displayed prominently in his closet.
“The first thing I see is my ring,” said Wilson with a smile. “You guys got jackets this time, but the ring is still coming.”
Wilson added that he thinks baseball is a sport all kids should learn to play.
“Even though what you do is as an individual, it’s still a team sport,” he explained. The friends made through playing are also important, with Wilson saying former Red Sox player Bill Buckner is one of his best friends.
“That’s what baseball does. You play against the guy, but tomorrow you never know where it’s going to lead.”
Wilson, whose real first name is William, is best known for hitting a ground ball that came through Buckner’s legs during the 1986 World Series game.
Wilson then shared how he had learned to play baseball in his backyard, with his parents not “stressing” about how well he played. He said his father told him, “Every day do your best and some days it will not be good enough, but it’ll be your best and that’s all anyone can ever ask.”
To the coaches, he added, “Understand that every kid is special. You have a responsibility not only in the game of baseball, but the game of life.”
He then spoke a bit about is former team, saying members seem to be in good shape. “The only problem the Mets have is they don’t have me playing,” he said.
Wilson also admitted he didn’t think the parade was going to happen that day, with temperatures being in the 30s and the earlier rain.
“I’m excited to see this turnout,” he said. “I saw the email that said this would be on rain or shine, I thought ‘yeah right.’ I’ve heard that before.” He also confessed, “Anything under 50 degrees, I don’t work too well.”
Addressing parents as well as kids, Wilson added that all the work that gets put into the league will ultimately be worth it.
“I promise you that,” he said. “It’s not in vain. Win or lose, they’ll remember the day. They’ll remember days when it was 34 degrees, listening to me talk.”
Wilson then went on to throw the first two pitches of the season to two players, Joey Ramos and Amanda Haspel, before signing autographs and posing for photos with the kids alongside mascot Mrs. Met.
A few elected officials were also at the event, including Council Member Dan Garodnick, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Comptroller Scott Stringer, who remarked that Wilson was one of his heroes when he was young. A somber-sounding Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh later tweeted he had to miss the event due to budget negotiations in Albany.