Play ball: Old Rochester Youth Baseball opens season with parade

May 5, 2024

ROCHESTER — A sea of young ballplayers cascaded down Dexter Lane and poured around the corner onto Marys Pond Road. They turned into Gifford Park and filed around the diamond. A massive American flag dangled beyond the center field wall. Baseball was underway in the Tri-Town.

Old Rochester Youth Baseball marked the beginning of the 2024 season with its annual opening day parade Saturday, May 4.

Mike Duarte, the organization's president, led the ceremony kicking off the spring. He said the kids “have a blast” during the parade.

“It’s awesome,” Duarte said. “It’s a really great experience.”

After the national anthem, graduating players set to play their last season of little league baseball were honored.

“The idea of making it a real ceremony, making it more than just a certificate and a cookie at the end of the season, I think it means something to the kids,” Duarte said.

The public safety departments of Rochester escorted the parade from Dexter Field to Gifford Park. The flag of the United States hung from an aerial ladder on a Rochester Fire Department Truck positioned past the outfield.

“They’re just amazing people,” Duarte said. “They’re always willing to help and on a moment’s notice. That’s what’s so great about our little field, our little town here — the Tri-Town. It’s wonderful.”

Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch was Rochester facilities manager Andrew Daniel.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without him,” Duarte said.

Also adding to the day was the weather — nearly 60 degrees and sunny. The ceremony ended with the classic call of “play ball.”

“Couldn’t ask for anything better,” Duarte said.