Downtown Little League Opens the Season, Drawing Former Mets Pitcher John Franco
By Josh Williams
BATTERY PARK CITY — The Downtown Little League season opened this weekend with a crack of the bat as former Mets pitching ace John Franco threw out the ceremonial first pitch and local elected officials cheered on the young batters.
Over 800 kids between the ages of six and 16 will participate in the city's youth baseball leagues this year, which start with t-ball for the little kids and end with the fast pitch league for the older players, dubbed the "majors."
"We are really excited about this season. In addition to our games here, we will also travel to the Staten Island Stadium and play games on the same field where the Yankees minor league team plays," said Tom Merrill, who has been the president of league since 2004.
One of the unique features of this league is that each team in the "majors" is named after one of the storied all-black traveling professional leagues that criss-crossed the country from the 1880s to the 1950s.
"I've played in these parks since I was 6 so this feels like home for me," said Moses Rubin, 12, who pitches for a team called the Grey's and has been working hard in the off-season.
"I've been working on my four-seam and two-seam fastball, and I hope to hit one out of the park and break a window," Rubin said.
The games are held on Wednesday nights and weekends at the Downtown Little League Ball Field, located at Murray and West Streets.