Bayonne marked the start of the Buddy Baseball League season with a parade on opening day, Saturday, May 14.
The league is called Buddy Baseball because it allows developmentally and physically challenged youth to participate in playing baseball with the assistance of a “buddy.” The program is open to Bayonne residents three to adult, and involves “buddies” helping each player based on their various needs, from something as simple as being a motivator to play, to helping a player at bat or while they round the bases.
Since its inception in 2015, the parade and baseball league has been going strong. It is run by the Bayonne Division of Recreation headed by Supervisor Pete Amadeo, who was given a commemorative quilt made of the shirts from previous years of Buddy Baseball for his dedication the program.
Hundreds gathered for the annual event which had previously been suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19 but returned alongside the program in the wake of the pandemic in 2021. This year, the city was able to proceed unabated with the march from the Bayonne Community Museum at Broadway and 9th Street to the baseball field on 11th Street and Avenue E, where teams took the field for opening day.
Many of the program participants, their “buddies,” parents, family, friends, and city officials marched en masse to support the program before the first game of the season. In addition to that, mascots from both St. Peter’s University and Rutgers University marched in the parade.
Performances by the Bayonne High School March Band and Bayonne Police Department Color Guard also occurred during the parade in the build up to the season kick-off game. And prior to the game’s start, New Jersey City University presented a check for $500 to keep the program going.
The program offers more than just a game of baseball, but rather an opportunity for the city’s special needs community to socialize, play an organized sport, to work with others as a team, promote sportsmanship and fair play, and to build self-confidence and self-esteem. And that’s exactly what happened last Saturday, with smiles lighting up the faces of participants, “buddies,” and those in attendance as well.
“Today is one of my favorite days of the year in Bayonne,” Mayor James Davis said regarding Buddy Baseball opening day. And other recreation programs are already underway, such as Youth Boxing, with more programs on the way, such as Culinary Camps.
“There are so many people who truly care for our Buddy Baseball program, our players and their families,” Amadeo said. “What we accomplish is remarkable and there is no town better.”
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