OSWEGO — Oswego Little League Day made its return on Saturday, celebrating another year of summer baseball in the Port City.

Led by the Oswego City Police and Fire departments, the teams marched in a parade along McCrobie Ball Field Street. The parade finished at Lagoe Field, where Little League President Tim Kirwan, Mayor Billy Barlow, and others spoke on the occasion.

“The one thing that you always hear is that Little League is America’s sport, and I totally agree with that,” said Kirwan. “It’s a time for community, family, friends to gather and enjoy themselves.”

Kirwan gave thanks to the city police and fire departments for their participation in the parade, and also introduced Barlow to the crowd.

“Most importantly here today, it’s a time for us to be with our kids,” Kirwan said. “Showcase these kids that work so hard. We have about 28 teams and about 360 players in our Little League right now.”

Kirwan noted that this was an increase from recent years, saying “The growth is remarkable.”

“We should be very proud of that. I know I am,” said Kirwan. “Again, we’d be nothing without the kids. This day is about them. To honor and showcase these hard-working kids. I couldn’t be prouder of the work that all these kids put in.”

Kirwan thanked the coaches, parents, and volunteers for their participation, and also emphasized that the league “has to be fun,” reading a quote by former Yankee star Derek Jeter about having fun in baseball.

“That’s what these kids have to do, is look at this as fun,” Kirwan continued. “That’s what we as coaches, parents, grandparents, friends, and everything else, have to look at this as fun.”

Along with members of the Oswego Little League Board of Directors, former players from the league’s inaugural 1956 season were also on hand. Kirwan introduced former Little League President Mike Cloonan, who spoke about the growth of the league and thanked its supporters.

“It’s a great day for baseball, and it’s a great day to have Little League Day,” Cloonan said to the crowd. “I’m very pleased with all the things that Tim, and the volunteers, and coaches, and the parents have done with this program. It’s good to see it flourishing the way it is.”

Jimmy Biancavilla, a former player from the initial season, spoke briefly and passed around his glove from the year among the current players, describing how he borrowed money from his mother to buy the glove at a now-defunct store called Arrow Sporting Goods.

“I haven’t been out here since 2006, but it just does my heart good to see the parents and the volunteers, all you players out here,” said Cloonan, who provided tips on hitting and fielding to the crowd of players.

Cloonan also shared a word of advice given by former Oswego State Athletic Director Max Ziel during the inaugural season: “Practice, practice, practice!”

Kirwan then turned the microphone over to Barlow, who spoke on the importance of the league to the city, and concluded by presenting the organization with a check for $75,000, which he said would go toward new lights for Lagoe Field and other upgrades.

“Little League is so important to this community,” said Barlow. “I think it’s a responsibility and obligation for city government to support Little League as much as possible. … I just want to quickly thank all the sponsors who sponsor teams, and the parents and coaches who contribute so much of their time and energy to the organization. 

“But I also think it’s important for the city to step up when we have the opportunity to ensure Little League’s around for many, many, many more years to come, because it is so special to this community,” Barlow continued. “So, I have a small check here. It’s for $75,000, to go to Oswego Little League. We’re going to use it to light up Lagoe Field, and some other field improvements. Congratulations, and play ball.”

Little League players Vivian and Jackson Rebeor then read the Little League pledge, followed by Kirwan reading the parent pledge to “teach all children to play fair and do their best,” and “praise a good effort despite the outcome of the game.”

Then, just as Mayor Barlow said, it was time to play ball.

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