HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - The sights and sounds of baseball returned as Hasbrouck Heights Little League celebrated the opening of the 2021 season on Inserra Field Saturday morning.
Unlike previous years, there was no parade through town to the field. Opening day ceremonies were scaled back in light of the ongoing pandemic. But that didn't prevent players, parents, and community leaders from welcoming the new season after a year off due to COVID-19. The league has 255 players in baseball and softball this year.
The league recognized the 18 12-year-olds who will be playing in their final season. Each player was called out and shared his favorite memory and posed for photos with his family.
Hasbrouck Heights Little League president Neil Peterson welcomed the parents.
"It's been a joy for us to see players on the field on all levels," he said, and told the players to have fun throughout the season. He also thanked the borough's DPW and Executive Board in helping prepare the fields and facilities for the day.
Hasbrouck Heights Mayor Jack DeLorenzo and Councilmembers Ron Kistner, Steven Reyngoudt and Michael Sickels were also in attendance. DeLorenzo recalled his time playing on the field, and wished the players good luck on the season.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by longtime DPW employee Joe Fadden, who will be retiring this summer.
Reyngoudt also addressed the players. His father was a veteran and past president of HHLL, who recently passed. He was the last person to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in 2019, before the COVID shutdown.
"This field is very special place for me," he said. "It represents a very special time in my life. A time my dad was a coach, an umpire and the president. A time when my mother was yelling at me from the bleachers. And a time when I'll never forget winning a championship. I still remember who was pitching. I still remember who the right fielder was who caught the ball when the celebration began."
"You guys might not realize this now, but this is a very special place for all of you. Take a minute. Look around. Soak it all in. Remember your teammates., your coaches, the smell of this grass, and the fresh air. They won't be easy to forget it, I promise you that," Reyngoudt continued. "And you all have something else to remember: you and your coaches overcame so much just to be here, and make sure that the memories of Little League can actually be made."