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PR- 296-06
August 17, 2006


First-Ever Tee-Ball Tournament Held on Gracie Mansion Lawn Welcomes Boys and Girls Ages Five and Six to Celebrate Youth Athletics and Community Sports

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined by the President of the Roberto Clemente, Sr. Foundation (R.C. Foundation) Roberto Clemente, Jr. kicked-off the first-ever Gracie Mansion Tee-Ball Tournament. Joined by dozens of Little Leaguers from across New York City, the young athletes, ages five and six, played a series of tee-ball games on the Gracie Mansion lawn. All five boroughs fielded players from different little league teams within their boroughs. Organized and sponsored by the R.C. Foundation, Little League of New York, Nixon Peabody LLP and Major League Baseball, the Tee-Ball Tournament celebrated and promoted community sports and a commitment to teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play among young athletes. The Mayor was also joined by representatives and coaches from Little League of New York, Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba, Mayor’s Volunteer Center Executive Director Nazli Parvizi and “Mr. Met,” the mascot of the New York Mets.

“Gracie Mansion has played host to celebrities and dignitaries from around the world, but today we welcome our own home-grown, budding sports stars for the first-ever Gracie Mansion Tee-Ball Tournament,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Sports are a vital component to any healthy childhood and that’s why we promote youth sports in all our neighborhoods. Making sports a part of your daily routine can teach you the most important lessons about life: hard work, teamwork and fair play. So, to the future David Wrights and Derek Jeters, I say, ‘Play ball!’”

“I am thrilled to see my father’s dream of bringing baseball to urban youth realized today,” said Roberto Clemente, Jr. “My father saw sports as a means of enhancing children’s lives, and from the New York City Public Schools named in his honor to the little league programs around the City, our family is thrilled to see his legacy of sports and education carried on.”

The inaugural Gracie Mansion Tee-Ball Tournament was made possible with the help of the R.C. Foundation. Little League of New York District Administrators were responsible for organizing teams from each borough. The event was also sponsored by the law firm of Nixon Peabody LLP with donations for the children from Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees, and the New York Mets. The National Anthem was performed by 19-year-old twin sisters from the Bronx, Susan and Jesse Vasquez, known as Mirror Image.

“Youth sports have always been an integral component of the Sports Commission’s mission,” said Commissioner Podziba.  “As this first-ever event steps to the plate, we believe that it will serve as a platform for communities to rally around their children’s need for an active and healthy lifestyle.  In time, we may even see these youngsters enjoy success in the Little League World Series like their older counterparts from Staten Island.”

“We’re delighted to be a part of this inaugural tournament at Gracie Mansion,” said Harold Weissman, Little League of New York State Coordinator for Section Three. “Little League provides children from the across the city and around the world the opportunity to participate in a competitive sport, learn about teamwork and sportsmanship and most of all, have fun.”

Tee-Ball is considered the gateway sport to baseball and softball for young athletes ages four to eight. Members of two teams take turns hitting a ball off a batting tee set on home plate. Tee-ball develops the primary baseball skills of hitting, running, fielding and throwing. According to the T•Ball USA Association, tee-ball is played in every state and territory and internationally. Participation is estimated at 2.2 million boys and girls.

Little League of New York is a member of Little League Baseball Inc. which was founded in 1939 and is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “promote, develop, supervise, and voluntarily assist in all lawful ways, the interest of those who will participate in Little League Baseball and Softball.” Through guidance and exemplary leadership, the Little League program assists youth in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being. For more information about Little League Baseball visit

The R.C. Foundation is dedicated to Roberto Clemente, Sr.’s vision of developing and improving the lives of inner-city youth.  The Foundation works with community organizations and businesses to enhance recreational programs and educational incentives for youth while teaching them the importance of community service.  The Foundation is proud to team up with The City of New York and Little League to bring tee-ball to Gracie Mansion.


Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam   (212) 788-2958

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