Little Leaguers compete for baseball bragging rights

Home run: Stefano Priante tees up at the second annual Pitch, Hit, and Run skills challenge in Bergen Beach on April 11.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Youngsters competed for baseball bragging rights at the Bergen Beach Youth Organization’s second annual Pitch, Hit, and Run skills challenge, which was sponsored by Major League Baseball and took place at McGuire Fields on Bergen Avenue on April 11.

More than three dozen Derek Jeter wannabes showed up to show off their talents, according to event organizer Joe Heaney.

“All of the kids are looking to play baseball in high school, college, and the big leagues,” he said.

Future blue-chip prospects between the ages of 7 and 14 practiced firing fastballs into a makeshift strike zone, took turns swatting line drives into the outfield, and held foot races from second base to home plate.

Most of the participants came from the neighborhood’s 12-team Little League.

Heaney said the contest taught the Little Leaguers teamwork — even as they faced off for prizes.

“We encourage the kids to root for each other,” he said. “Everyone went out and had fun.”

The winners of the skills showdown will take part in a regional contest on Staten Island later this spring.

The top players advancing to a national competition during All-Star Weekend in Kansas City in July.

The Bergen Beach Youth Organization also runs summer youth programs and provides after-school and graffiti-removal services.

Major League Baseball has 30 teams in two leagues that compete for the right to play in the World Series each fall.

The popular bat-and-ball game known as America’s national pastime dates back to the 1840s.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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