Baseball is a sport that demands and honors individual talent. Equally, it requires team play on the diamond and camaraderie in the dugout.
This was the overriding message of the South Riverdale Baseball League’s Auction & Awards Night on Saturday.
As is the case every year, the event raised thousands of dollars for operating the league — from its instructional peewee program to the senior division. It also honors the teams and players in each of these divisions.
The league raises funds by auctioning a variety of memorabilia including Mets, Jets, Knicks, Giants and Yankees jerseys and T-shirts, as well as autographed baseballs and photographs. Also auctioned were spots at kids’ baseball training clinics.
Many of the players, particularly the younger ones, wore their baseball uniforms to the event. The event gave the parents of the Little Leaguers the opportunity to act like kids for a few hours — wolfing down pizza and frosty cupcakes, and bidding on signed baseballs and jerseys
“It’s a great way to raise money for the league and it brings the community together,” said Lisa Wainberg, whose son Roey, 6, plays for the Sluggers.
Early in the evening, SRLL official Mark Zukerman was honored with the league’s lifetime service award.
The importance of nurturing both individual talent and team play was continued by the evening’s guest speaker, Mike Baxter of the New York Mets. Baxter, who grew up in Whitestone, Queens and is best known for his sprawling catch in the outfield to save pitcher Johan Santana’s no hitter, was a huge hit with parents and kids.
“I’m really excited to be here talking to kids,” Baxter told the enthusiastic audience in the auditorium at the College of Mount Saint Vincent. “I remember always being outside and not playing video games.”
Baxter, 27, was very generous with his time, spending at least two hours answering questions from the audience, posing for photos and just chatting with admiring fans of all ages.
He was also candid to questions about his own career and tastes.