From the small, intimate crowd yet the electric energy from the attending fans, there was no doubt that these fans were parents cheering on their children in Maimonides Field, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. This wasn’t a High-A minor league game, the division of the New York Mets organization to which the Cyclones belong, but a Little League game of 11 and 12-year-olds from the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

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With the bases pulled in about 30 feet for the young baseball hopefuls, the “Ambush Baseball” game was full of excitement in between inning contests. Still, most importantly, the children on the field enjoyed the opportunity to play on a Big League field may just be a once in a lifetime dream. Additionally, the overwhelming majority of the LES RBI(Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) team was made up of children of migrants who’ve only been in the United States for a matter of months, and this is the first time some of these children got to be a kid.

When asked about the importance of bringing the game of baseball to the recent arrivals, LES RBI Manager Frankie Almeida said, “I work in the DOE, so I met a lot of the children through my school, where I work as a sports specialist. I met a lot of these kids when they first came to the States.” Almeida, who has been with the RBI program since 1993, added, “When the winter came, they didn’t really have much to do as far as activities, but as the Spring came, they gradually started coming.”


Bed Stuy Sluggers founder and manager Yaseen Allah echoed Almeida’s sentiment and brought the two neighborhood teams together. “It keeps them active and right now they don’t have much to do,” Allah said. “I went to see what he was doing and during gym class, he was teaching them baseball everyday. I decided to partner up with him and come into our program to play for the spring and summer.”

Tony Nunez, who coaches the Bed Stuy Sluggers and has a grandson on the team, contends that these types of events are key in social development for the migrant players. “I like the fact that they’re being exposed to events like this,” says the father of Astros organization’s Antonio Nunez, who was drafted to the majors in 2014. “If either team were not here today, they may not get another opportunity like this. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. They’re new to this country and they probably haven’t been exposed to anything of this magnitude.”

After six innings of mostly stolen bases and singles that became triples, the LES RBI team of 12-year-olds (and migrants) dominated Bed Stuy with a final score of 15-6.