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Opening Day of the Red Hook Youth Baseball League

Saturday, April 28th marked the opening of the 15th season of the Red Hook Youth Baseball League. The beautiful spring morning began with a ceremony of short speeches and traditional first pitches by honored dignitaries and supporters of the league, including: Kings County District Attorney Honorable Charles J. Hynes, Council Member Sara M. Gonzalez, Felix Palacios, Community Liaison for Speaker Christine Quinn, 76th Precinct Police Captain Jeffrey Schiff, John McGettrick, President of the Red Hook Civic Association, and Honorable Judge Alex M. Calabrese of the Red Hook Community Justice Center. The ceremony concluded with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem sung by Pat Sones, a Red Hook resident and longtime friend of the League. Immediately following the ceremony, exhibition games commenced in which Hynes' Heroes defeated the Defenders, and Southern Trucking defeated Gibbs' Brooklyn Youth Association Royals. The League receives generous support from Council Member Gonzalez, and individuals teams are sponsored by the Kings County District Attorney's Office, community members Lou Sones and Brett Taylor, Chris and Liz Hanson of the Southern Trucking Company, and Mr. Romles Gibbs of the Justice Center, respectively.

Thanks to generous donations, there is no fee to play in the League. The League was founded by a partnership between the local Justice Center, AmeriCorps volunteers, and community members and continues to be entirely volunteer-run today. True to its roots, the League is about more than balls and strikes and the coaches and volunteers work hard to instill in the young boys and girls the highest standards of sportsmanship, leadership, and respect. 

Honorary first pitchers echoed the League's mission to not only provide a venue for structured, competitive baseball, but to also encourage success in school. Ian Young, League Co-Commissioner and President of the SAYO Grays League which has sent 32 ballplayers to college on scholarships the past 2 years, spoke of his pride in seeing his former players go off to college as a result of their sports involvement, saying "Going to college is much more important to me than having one of my players play professional baseball."

The season had been in jeopardy when four of the ballfields were closed in March by the Health Department due to soil contamination from being the former site of a lead-smelting plant. (The fields are still in the process of being cleaned and renovated.) However, thanks to the hard work of Eddie Vargas and others at the New York City Parks Department and numerous public officials and civic groups who advocated on behalf of the League, we were given permits to other Red Hook ballfields and able to have a season.

 Hon. Charles J. Hynes remarked he used to play baseball and still has quite a powerful arm! 
Hynes greets the players of "Hynes' Heroes" coached by ADA's Paul Vitale and Brandon Smith. 
Council Member Gonzalez offers encouragement to the Defenders. 
League Commissioners welcome the teams (from left, Brett Taylor, Pete Morales and Ian Younge) 
New Police Captain Schiff wishes the ballplayers a great season before throwing out his pitch. 
Red Hook Civic Association President John McGettrick gives a heartfelt message to the youth. 
Felix Palacios speaks of his Red Hook roots and love for the neighborhood. 
Pat Sones delivers a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem while the Southern Trucking team looks on. 
League Founder and 13- year Commissioner James Brodick (right) speaks with team sponsor, Mr. Gibbs of the Justice Center.
The boys and girls of the Defenders get ready for game time! 
Put me in, coach!
Juvenile Justice Corps member and assistant coach of the Defenders Annelly Chalas encourages her team. 

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