By Bill Parry
The boys of summer and their families made Bell Boulevard their own Saturday, as the Bayside Little League kicked off their season with a parade to the playing fields of Crocheron Park.
Commissioner Bob Reid, running the league for more than 25 years, gave the honor of leading the march to 12-year-old Alex Hawkins, a right-handed pitcher for the Bayside Rebels.
“We’re really excited to start a new season,” Alex said while holding the American flag high. “It’s fun playing baseball and learning how to be a team player.”
The comment brought a smile to the commissioner’s face. A Baysider for 49 years, Reid became the head of the league in 1991.
“This never gets old. It’s always new when you’ve got kids 4, 5 and 6 years old,” Reid said. “We’ve got 31 teams with kids ages 4 to 12. It’s important for the community to get these kids out there on the baseball fields to be active and learn to be good citizens. This is where lifelong friendships are formed. All around you see interest in youth sports waning and the numbers dwindling, but here we’re trying to strengthen the interest each year.”
Reid served in the Police Department for nearly 34 years before retiring as a detective in September 2008. During the offseason he works with local businesses, which sponsor teams and coordinates a yearly cleanup of the fields in Crocheron Park to encourage responsibility among Bayside’s youth.
“It makes our kids better citizens,” Reid said. “We teach them how to work well with others, how to assist and support other people. It comes down to being proud of their community no matter where they are in life.”
The Bayside Little league began in 1952.
“Generations of Bayside kids have gone through this league,” state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said before the parade stepped off. “This parade is one of our great community events. It’s great for the community.”
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) shared more than a few high-fives along the parade route.
“Seeing all of our kids out here marching through the community is always special,” he said. “It’s just a great family event.”
It’s the type of Americana Brian Carr was hoping for when he moved his family to Bayside eight years ago.
“You can say that, for sure,” Carr said, marching behind his 4-year-old son Brendan. “I’m the first year manager of the team sponsored by the Martin A. Gleason Funeral Home. This has a great neighborhood feel to it. I’m really looking forward to getting the season started.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr