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Play Ball! TBO Season Opener Is a Hit

Blustery winds and chilly temperatures couldn’t deter the Teaneck faithful from coming out to celebrate the start of the 2018 baseball season.

Hundreds of players, parents and fans gathered at Teaneck’s Milton Votee Park on Sunday morning to kick off TBO’s 2018 season. Electricity was in the air and smiling faces were trying their skills in the batting cage, lighting up the radar gun with their best fastballs, having their faces painted and snacking on cotton candy, popcorn and even some sno-cones, despite the cold conditions.

To add to the excitement of the day, TBO invited four-time all star and three-time World Series champion, Doc Gooden, to throw the ceremonial first pitch on a brand-new Field 3, long known as “New Field.” Delighted fans lined up after the ceremonies to have their photos taken and their commemorative Opening Day baseballs signed by “Dr. K.”

The convivial event began with the national anthem sung by Teaneck Teen Idol runner up Leora Barkai. During the anthem, the players and coaches of the competing teams, J&J Pharmacy and Halachic Organ Donor Society, lined up on the field.

TBO President David Greenberg then gave a short introduction about the esteemed guest who was honored with throwing the first pitch. Greenberg also thanked the people who made the brand new field possible and attended the joyous event, including Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin, Deputy Mayor Henry Pruitt, Deputy Mayor Elie Y. Katz, Councilwoman Gervonn Romney-Rice, Councilman Alan Sohn, Councilman Mark Schwartz and Congressman Josh Gottheimer.

After the introduction, former Met and Yankee, Doc Gooden threw the ceremonial first pitch to the makeshift catcher, Mayor Hameeduddin. Gooden spoke to the young athletes, encouraging them to follow their dreams and to work hard. Gooden is one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history. In his first season for the New York Mets in 1984, he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award, earned his first of four All Star selections and led the league in strikeouts. The next year he received the NL Cy Young Award and achieved the pitching Triple Crown. In 1986, he led the Mets to their second World Series win and was ultimately inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The games got underway after the ceremonies and many families stayed to watch. In the opening fourth-fifth grade division game, J&J Pharmacy bested Halachic Organ Donor Society (HODS) by a score of 6-1. J&J’s Akiva Rotenberg pitched three strong innings allowing one run, and Ilan Sugarman hit a triple. Isaac Kantowitz pitched three innings for HODS and singled in his team’s only run.

All attendees agreed that opening day celebration was a huge success and the young athletes look forward to another incredible TBO season.

By Ezra Seplowitz

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