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Ridgites celebrate opening day for St. Anselm’s new ball field

Batter up!: Neighborhood kids took a swing at knocking the balls out of the park at the new field at St. Anselm’s on opening day.
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Take these kids out to the ballgame!

Ridgites headed to the newly redone ball field at McKinley Park on April 7 to step up to the plate and play the field for the first time ever. The field, at 76th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, will serve as the new home turf for the Little Leaguers of St. Anselm’s Youth Baseball and Softball programs, and the school’s baseball commissioner said the first hit should be a good omen for all of the games to come.

“The first game ever on the field, the first plate appearance, was a home run,” said Ridgite Christopher Auletti, whose son CJ knocked the first pitch far enough to take a full lap around the bases.

The school’s baseball team played three games — one against Our Lady of Angels, which it won 16-4, and two against itself, since the cold weather proved to be too much for many of the other 40 teams from public and private schools in the league, according to Auletti — but not the St. Anselm kids.

“The other schools thought it was a little too chilly, but we put sweatshirts on the kids and said, ‘suck it up,’ ” he said.

Before the games got underway, former Ridge Councilman Vincent Gentile — who allocated $1.5 million towards the eight-year, $2.5-million project — along with former Borough President Marty Markowitz, participated in brief dedication ceremony, along with state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge).

The field will mainly be used by the school’s baseball and softball teams, which range in age from Pre-Kindergarten to sixth grade, plus teams from the other schools in the league. But the chair of Community Board 10’s Parks Committee, June Johnson, previously told this paper that any team can play on the field as long as they have a permit issued by the parks department.

The student-athletes previously bounced around various neighborhood ball fields — especially those along Shore Road — but they’ll now have their own artificial-turf diamond, complete with amenities including two dugouts, grandstands, drinking fountains, misting stations, landscaping, and a storage space. A running path also encircles the new field, and removable bases ensure it will be multi-use, Johnson said.

The school’s softball commissioner said the long-awaited grassy oasis lived up to the hype.

“It’s beautiful. It’s a nice, brand new field,” said Dyker Heights resident Eileen Johnson, who said that the girls didn’t play on opening day due to the cold weather.

The father of a St. Anselm’s pitcher said he was glad the kids finally got their own space to play.

“It’s a great facility, I’m really glad it’s there for them,” said Ridgite Michael Sibley, whose son, Jacob, threw out a pitch on opening day.

Auletti agreed.

“Everyone has their own field, and we finally got ours,” he said.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 12:25 pm, April 11, 2018
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