Photos by Rich Corozine
It all does seem timeless. And not just the game itself — you know the absence of a clock and all that; fair/foul lines that stretch into infinity; the offense has the ball but is playing defense; the purpose of the game is to get home…all the Zen stuff — but even more, this past Saturday’s New Paltz Baseball/Softball Association (NPBSA) opening day parade down Main Street. It’s like deja vu all over again, to quote the Yogi Master, Mr. Lawrence Peter Berra (the long-retired Yankee catcher still alive at 90 after all those seasons in the summer sun), with the usual 600-or-so kids and their smiling parents meandering from the New Paltz Middle School to Hasbrouck Park, where they partied for awhile in the spring chill.
And of course there is that look, that baseball (and softball) look that kids have. That look that says no matter how big or coordinated one is you can still play the game. You don’t have to be Derek Jeter or Big Papi Ortiz or Mike Trout or Matt Harvey to get in your licks, field a grounder, catch a fly ball or throw a strike. The game isn’t considered the “national pastime” for nothing.
So, since 1995 the New Paltz Baseball/Softball Association has been the official Town of New Paltz program for kids age five to 15, and starts every season with the parade down Main Street. The NPBSA is chartered through the Cal Ripken (Hall of Fame shortstop with the Baltimore Orioles who holds the record for most consecutive games played) and Babe Ruth (arguably the greatest player in the 150-year history of the game and holder of the “Most Hot Dogs Consumed Before A Game” record — set in 1921 and still stands) Leagues, which give the association full access to the fields throughout the town. As an added bonus, the NPBSA has recently funded new dugouts at Dressel Field, the Clearwater Complex and the new softball field out at the New Paltz Sports Park. The NPBSA sets up the schedules, puts on clinics (winters at the 4-H facility at the fairgrounds), orders and distributes uniforms and equipment, as well as provide the coaching for the many teams that play the game here in town.
This year’s teams read like a list of New Paltz businesses, with kids carrying banners and wearing the uniforms of: First Care, Gardiner Engineering, Lunati Builders, Main Street Bistro, One Main Financial, Village Pizza, Marshall & Sterling, Oremus Foundation, Viking Industries, TKE Indians, Diamond Car, Karma Road, A-1 Portables, Goodfellas Barber, P&G’s, Modern Freight, Wiedenkeller Insurance, Rycor HVAC, Clarkson’s, PBA Rays, Kniffen Builders, Rob Rich Law, McGillicuddy’s, HV IT Solutions, Hudson Builders, SeaKill Builders, Dedrick’s, Smitty’s, Direct Fleet Service, HV Impressions, Upstairs at 9, Plaza Diner, Masseo Landscaping, Rifton Equipment, Ulster Savings, Kalleco Nursery, Rino’s Pizza, GEODIS, DeMaio Insurance, Mainetti’s, Mary Sheridan Insurance, PDQ, LaBella Pizza Bistro and New Paltz Family Medicine…in other words, nearly everyone with a hankering for the game tries to get involved.
It’s summer, it’s a sunny day, blue skies, big cumulus clouds floating overhead, with the umpire’s call of “play ball!” echoing through the air…we can quote the late great Chicago Cub Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks…and “let’s play two!”