As players from Major League Baseball’s 30 teams get ready to launch the 2018 season, so do the sport’s future superstars in Bayside.
Officially established in 1952, Bayside Little League has taught thousands of local kids America’s national pastime. The league has teams in multiple divisions open to boys and girls aged four to 17.
Bob Reid, the league’s commissioner, has worked with the organization since 1986. First and foremost, he said, the league offers local kids the chance to play the sport.
“We’re here to offer children a program that gets them out in the field and in the parks to play baseball,” Reid said. “It gets them to exercise, run around, and keeps them physically fit. And, at the same time, they’re learning a sport that’s extremely popular and is America’s favorite pastime.”
The volunteer-based, community-driven league has produced a number of noteworthy players over the years, including major league catcher Dave Valle, who played with teams including the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers in the 1980s and 1990s. Outfielder Mike Baxter, a former Met who played with the team from 2011-13, also played with Bayside. Mets fans know that Baxter’s spectacular catch in left field helped save the team’s first no-hitter, hurled by Johan Santana, on June 1, 2012.
Most recently, Bayside Little League alum Charlie Neuweiler, 19, became part of the Kansas City Royals’ minor league system. He was a fifth-round pick in last year’s MLB Draft.
“There have been many more players who have made college teams, minor leagues and the majors,” Reid said.
Aside from learning to play the sport, players learn how to be part of a team, cooperate with others toward a common goal and how to lead.
“[The league] is teaching them how to get along with others and how to have each other’s backs. That rolls over into every day life,” Reid said. “It also teaches them how to be leaders, call plays and take charge.”
The little league organization also fosters lasting friendships.
“The friendships are lifelong and the memories are some they’ll never forget,” he said.
Spring 2018 registration is now open into the first week of April. Interested players can sign up on the league’s website.
“Our motto is, ‘We turn no child away,'” Reid noted. “We really mean that.”
As always, the organization will officially kick off their new season with the Bayside Little League Parade on April 14. The annual parade will run along Bell Boulevard and end at Crocheron Park.