The day's festivities began on Carroll Street in Park Slope, with a parade that marched along Seventh Avenue before reaching the park entrance at 9th Street. Cheering little leaguers, wearing their respective team uniforms and carrying gloves and other equipment, in preparation for their first games, accompanied the Brownsville Recreational Center Marching Band to the park Bandshell for the ceremonial first toss of the season. A large crowd gathered there for a pep rally as elected officials hyped the crowd for the upcoming season.
"Whether you win during the season or come in second, baseball is life experience," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who stressed the game's educational qualities. "Your life will be what you do on your own and how well you work with others."
Opening day is a special time for Brooklynites, whose beloved Brooklyn Dodgers left the borough in 1957. More than five decades later, baseball remains as popular as ever in the County of Kings, if not more so. This year, 2,380 boys and girls will play for 170 teams in 2,205 games.
Coming just days after the Mets and Yankees unveiled their new stadiums, excitement for the little league season opener was especially high. Yet, on Saturday, Markowitz urged baseball fans to remember the community effort involved in making baseball a reality in Brooklyn.
The borough president reminded the youngster preparing to play ball that it would take the collective efforts of hundreds of players, umpires, coaches, maintenance crews and parks volunteers to put together another successful season. Such a large undertaking requires massive cooperation from borough residents, said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe in remarks at the ceremony.
If the day's massive turnout of volunteers was any indication, enthusiasm is one problem the Prospect Park Little League won't need to worry about this year.