Gravesend’s Our Lady of Grace Athletic Association kicked off its baseball and softball seasons with an Opening Day parade on April 28 that drew more than 500 players, parents, and fans to Monsignor Sclafani Field on Gravesend Neck Road.
The association’s vice president, Steve Peskin, said the festivities — which included four games to get the season started — are a rite of passage for neighborhood players who harbor dreams of someday turning pro.
“The kids were really excited,” Peskin said. “For some, it’s the first time they’ve put on a uniform, so it’s a big deal.”
But Peskin said the games teach youngsters life skills that extend beyond the baseball diamond.
“Baseball is really secondary,” he said. “Players learn the value of teamwork, camaraderie, and work ethic.”
Roughly 340 baseball and softball players aged 4 to 16 compete each year in the 20-team league, which also boasts six travel teams that take on squads from other neighborhoods across the borough.
Our Lady of Grace founded the athletic association in 1956. In 1992, the group took over the Gil Hodges Little League, which started as a sandlot organization in the 1950s but was later renamed after the Brooklyn Dodgers icon.