The Dodgers may have left Brooklyn in 1957, but as Borough President Marty Markowitz pointed out in his address to over 2,000 young ballplayers at the annual Little League parade this past Saturday, “baseball will always be alive in Brooklyn.”
The spirit of spring was in full force as the youngsters, their families and coaches marched, mitts and balls in tow, from Seventh Avenue and Second Street all the way to the Prospect Park Bandshell where the 2011 Little League season officially kicked off. Residents aligned the avenue with signs reading “Play Ball!” and “Batter Up!” in support of the youngsters. This annual rite of spring is the largest of its kind in all of the boroughs.
The excitement of a new season was evident in every kid decked out in a uniform, but the volunteer coaches were equally excited for the start of the new season.
Louie Lacarbonara, a first year coach and a lifelong Yankees fan, said that he was even more anxious than some of his Park Slope sluggers. Still, the event was all about the kids.
“The kids get inspired to be out here,” Lacarbonara, 28 said of the parade. “It psyches them for their season.”
David Rawson, 48, another first year coach, volunteered to coach the 7- and 8-year-old Spurs in hopes of sparking his son’s interest in the sport. He said that his son finds baseball boring, but is hoping his coaching skills can change that.
“He’s going to play somewhere where the ball won’t be, maybe right field,” Rawson joked.
But at least one of the Spurs players, Seamus Rohrer, was looking forward to his team’s game later that day.
The young third baseman and Pittsburgh Pirates fan was happy to be with all of his teammates. He made it clear that he was a good sport.
“It’s our first game, so it’s probably going to be a tie,” said Rohrer.
The guests of honor, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, preached the same merits of sportsmanship that Rohrer embodied.
Other city officials were on hand, including City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Steve Levin.
Sporting a Mets sweatshirt, de Blasio tried to pump up the Mets and Yankees fans in attendance. After the roar of the Yankees supporters drowned out those of the Mets, de Blasio offered his condolences.
“Turn to a Mets fan because they need your support,” de Blasio told the crowd.
After a rendition of “Take me out to the Ballgame,” the guests of honor threw out ceremonial first pitches to the children on hand, and the 2011 season officially got underway.
On a day when young and old alike came together to celebrate America’s pastime, John Cortese, 85, a longtime Park Slope resident and former head umpire of the neighborhood leagues, marveled at the budding young ballplayers in front of him.
“It’s beautiful,” said Cortese, who has been involved in little league for 59 years. “Can you imagine anything better than this?”