Mayor Bill de Blasio was on Staten Island Saturday morning to help start the little league season. The mayor also had another pitch for children and parents. NY1’s Matt McClure filed this report.

Mayor Bill de Blasio helped throw out the ceremonial first pitch to start the little league season Saturday on Staten Island.

"It is a high calling to be there for our kids, to teach them this beautiful game. It builds character. It helps them in everything they do in life. Both my kids went through little league and they were better for it," de Blasio said.

Before the kids took the field, though, the mayor had another message—encouraging parents to sign their kids up for the city's universal pre-k.

“Kids need that start, and when you're three years old, four years old, you can learn in a way that you literally can't learn the same at any other point in life. Their minds are developing rapidly. That's when we have to reach them," he said.

The de Blasio administration says pre-k enrollment is up.

There are currently 53,000 students enrolled in city pre-k.

Nearly 60,000 kids have signed up so far for September, and the city hopes to hit 70,000.

Many parents—like Petronilla Gaglia of New Dorp—say they're excited about the program.

She enrolled her son last year.

"He loves it and it's full-day.  And I have two smaller ones at home, so it's nice that he gets a full day of activity and then comes home to his two little brothers," says Gaglia.

Parents interested in signing their children up for pre-k for all are running out of time. The deadline to apply is April 24. 

To submit an application or to get more information, you can call 311 or go to