The 2022 season for Flossmoor Baseball and Softball opens Saturday, April 23, with the return of the opening day parade that was forced into two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
The opening day parade is set to line up at 8:45 a.m. in the Parker Junior High parking lot and begin at 9:30 a.m. It’s set to go from Flossmoor Road to Brassie Avenue and end at Bronco Field in Flossmoor Park.
“Along the way, all the kids are whooping and hollering. Then they get under the viaduct there in downtown Flossmoor and they give a big shout under the viaduct,” said James Cheung, vice president of Flossmoor Baseball, recalling previous parades. “It’s always a fun time to get out to the park and make that quick march to open up the season.”
Flossmoor Baseball president Carlo Gozzi said that at this year’s parade, the “grand marshals will be veterans” to bring attention to the Flossmoor Veterans’ Memorial charity.
“Sutton Ford will be leading the parade with two [Ford] F-150s,” Gozzi said. “We’re going to be having veterans riding in the trucks – not in the beds but inside the trucks.”
Flossmoor Baseball is a youth baseball organization where kids from pre-kindergarten to age 15 play baseball, softball and t-ball. Home games are mostly played in Flossmoor Park but some of the softball games are played at Highlands Park, Gozzi said.
This season, players with Homewood Baseball & Softball will be playing with Flossmoor Baseball players. It’s the first time in about a decade the two programs have teamed up, Gozzi said.
“Competing and playing with – we’re calling it cross play,” Cheung said.
“We’re going to be having ‘cross play’ with Homewood in certain divisions, not all divisions, and we’re calling it the Cross Town Classic League” named for the games between Chicago’s Cubs and White Sox baseball teams, Gozzi said.
“They (Homewood) have some shortages in numbers in certain age groups and so do we,” Gozzi said. “So, we’re going to have a league between both communities for specific age groups. It’s between softball and then what would be fifth and sixth grade boys baseball. We’re going to play each other.” It does not mean a merger of the two organizations, he stressed.
In 2021, all adults attending games were required to wear masks as a part of the league’s code of conduct policy. This year, since COVID mandates were lifted by the Illinois Department of Public Health, Gozzi said masks will not be required.
Flossmoor Baseball “focuses on instruction and really developing that love for the game,” said Cheung. He said that players don’t try out or get cut from the team, but there are “evaluations to kind of make things competitive across the entire league.”
Cheung has three kids and two of them play in Flossmoor Baseball. His daughter Avery is in third grade and in softball. His son Connor is in kindergarten and in t-ball. Cheung said he’s excited to be coaching his son’s team this season.
“I’m still friends with some kids I played with in little league. I think that’s the key to life – building good relationships,” Gozzi said. “Whether these kids move on to higher levels of baseball or hang it up after little league, they won’t forget the experience.”