NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Opening Day is what boys and girls in Washington Heights look forward to every Spring.
“I like everything about baseball. You get to play, you get to have fun, you get to catch the ball, bat, everything,” one player said.
“I like when we all play together,” said another.
Saturday marked the start of baseball season, but it’s not your typical Little League, CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported. The league goes beyond baseball as the only Little League organization in the country run and coached by police officers.
The league is dedicated to honoring the memory of fallen NYPD officers and committed to building community relations.
It began as a tribute by the family of Michael Buczek, killed in the line of duty on Oct. 18, 1988. The league now honors 28 fallen officers, this year adding detectives Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos who were gunned down as they sat in their patrol car last December.
The Liu and Ramos families were there along with the families of other fallen officers who took part in a bittersweet ceremony that followed a parade of players, led by officers to kick off the 27th season.
The names of those killed in the line of duty were written on the backs of the players jerseys, and though they may not know who that person is, parents and coaches plan to teach the children why that name is important.
“The kids hung his picture in the dugout and they touched it before they went to home plate,” one coach said.
“There’s been a lot of accolades, but to see this gentleman holding his picture, I say oh we’re not forgotten we’re still here all these years later,” another said.
“It gives all the kids a lesson in heroes, who their local heroes are and people that have given the greatest sacrifice that you can for the community,” one man told Carrasco/
“The biggest thing is to give back to the community and see how it’s changed and hopefully its changed for the better and to one day look back and hope you were part of the positive change in the area you came from,” Bladimir Falette said.
The Michael J. Buczek Little League has more than 200 children who participate each season. Since 1989, more than 20 players in this league have gone on to become New York City police officers.