By Sabina Mollot
On Saturday, hundreds of young baseball and softball players and their parents marched through Stuyvesant Town to Con Edison Field for the annual Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade.
As always, they were led by a pair of bagpipers from First Avenue to around the Oval to the field for a brief ceremony where former Mets player Nelson Figueroa gave a pep talk. Local elected officials also showed up to wish the players a good season, which has already begun with a record number— 800 kids in the league. There were also a few new teams, bringing the total to 74 across 14 divisions.
At the field, PSLL President Seth Coren announced that the number of female players has also gone way up.
“In 2003, there were 75 girls playing softball,” he said. “Today we have over 200.”
Coren then introduced a few former players who went on to pursue careers in sports.
Figueroa also had some encouraging words, telling the players, “Thank your parents for making this happen for you in a tremendous environment. Thank them because it’s a special time in your life.”
He then echoed the sentiments of previous PSLL parade guests who’d been pro players, remarking that the space he played on in his youth was nothing like the privately-owned turf field he stood on. Previous guests have included Doc Gooden, Keith Hernandez and Jerry Blevins.
Figueroa also advised the Little Leaguers not to let their failures on the field upset them. “You learn from those failures and you turn them into successes.”
Figueroa added, “You want to model yourself after your favorite players and work as hard as they do.”
While looking at one of the younger players, he said, “When I was your size, I was having big dreams of baseball.”
Figueroa, now an analyst on Mets broadcasts, played with the Mets for two years from 2008-2009. He also played for the Phillies, the Diamondbacks, the Pirates and the Astros.
He concluded the ceremony on Saturday with the first pitch of the season to baseball player Cade McClure. Two other first pitches were thrown at the same time for the softball and Challenger divisions. Participating were Sophie McElroy, Gianna Denis, Ray Velez and Louise Dagett.
Other guests at the event — who in keeping with Little League tradition, kept their remarks brief and about playing ball — included PSLL alumnus Council Member Keith Powers, Council Member Carlina Rivera, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Comptroller Scott Stringer. Representing Stuyvesant Town was Melissa Planko, managing director at Blackstone. Also in attendance were former Council Member and current tee-ball coach Dan Garodnick and Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s longtime right hand who’s also a PSLL mom.
Additional league news includes the installation of a third batting cage at Con Ed Field, an expanded picnic area and bleachers moved closer to the field of play, a re-leveled spectator area, and newly sodded field at a nearby play space at Murphy’s Brother’s Park.
In an email to PSLL families, it was also announced that there are expanded programs at Stuy Town’s Playgrounds 1 and 3 and a new PSLL camp in July. Another opening day event will be held for the PSLL’s Challenger Division for players with disabilities on April 14.