Sponsor Ottaviano "Tovie" Asarese, who turned 92 last month, will be on the bench as usual when his Royal Printing team opens the Buffalo Firefighters AAABA League schedule at 6 p.m. Tuesday against Full Circuit 21U at Delaware Park.
The local AAABA league has expanded to 10 teams for its 65th season.
Other 6 p.m. openers will be: KC Curve vs. Full Circuit Open at St. Francis High School; All-In Sports vs. Full Circuit 18U at Tonawanda Veterans Park; Niagara Thunderwolves vs. LCD (Lancaster/Depew/Clarence) Edge at McCarthy; Royal Printing No. 2 vs. Procore at Johnnie Wiley.
Royal Printing is the three-time defending champion of the wooden-bat league. The Royals reached the semifinals of the 2019 AAABA national tournament in Johnstown, Pa. before losing to eventual champion New Orleans. Full Circuit also represented Buffalo in the 2019 nationals, which have been canceled for 2020. The local AAABA will carry on, however.
"There was a expansion this year from eight to 10 teams, as many summer collegiate leagues ceased operations due to the coronavirus," said Bob Carnevale, manager of the Royal Printing team and president of the Buffalo league. "So many young men had no place to play summer ball."
The league will be adhering to state and local rules pertaining to social distancing and other safeguards to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
"It will be quite a challenge, but we are trying to provide some top quality baseball for the young men who haven't been able to play since early March of 2020," Carnevale said.
Many of Western New York's most outstanding college and high school age players compete in the league each year. Last year's Royal Printing team was made up of players from Canisius, Niagara, St. Bonaventure, Binghamton, Albany and Coastal Carolina, as well as players from NCAA Division II and III and local junior colleges.
Asarese, the team's former manager, began sponsoring the team in 1955. A member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, he has promoted youth sports activities on the city's West Side for years – organizing and supporting leagues in baseball, softball, basketball and floor hockey.