"The Yankees," young Dante says with pride. "I like Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens and Hideki Matsui. I really like Godzilla [Matsui's nickname]."
In fact, Dante is so much of a Yankee fan that he can even recall some of the greats of yesteryear.
"Oh, yeah, Lou Gehrig is also a favorite of mine," Dante Cieri said.
There's a good reason for Dante's deep affection for "The Iron Horse." Dante plays for the Yankees in the Weehawken Bambino Baseball League and wears uniform No. 4 - the same number that Gehrig wore during his Hall of Fame career with the Yankees.
But it's safe to say that there aren't many other second graders at Webster School who know about Lou Gehrig.
"I have his baseball card," Dante Cieri said of Gehrig. "My father told me about Lou Gehrig."
With that in mind, it's also safe to say that Dante Cieri has to be the most excited 7-year-old in Weehawken these days, because he's getting a chance this morning to actually play baseball in the most famous of ballparks - the home of his heroes, Yankee Stadium.
Cieri will participate in the regional finals in the Pepsi "Pitch, Hit and Run" competition, which will be held at the stadium prior to the Yankees-St. Louis Cardinals game this weekend.
"I'm really excited," Dante Cieri said. "I'm not nervous. I just hope I do well and I hope I get a chance to meet some of the Yankees. I never thought I could get this far. It surprised me a little."
How Cieri ends up participating in the tournament is an amazing tale.
There was a local competition of the Pepsi "Pitch, Hit and Run" at Arricale Field in Weehawken last month. Dan Cieri, Dante's father, received the notification of the tournament earlier that day.
"I knew that Dante is a very competitive kid and would want to give it a try," the elder Cieri said. "I knew that most of his friends and teammates would be there, so I let him try it. But Dante is very serious about his baseball."
Dante Cieri competed in the 7-to-8-year-old age bracket and was a natural for the competition.
"I honestly thought he would do pretty well in the local competition," the elder Cieri said. "I sat and watched it, but I couldn't believe how well he did. I was amazed."
Dante Cieri hit the baseball off a tee 99.7 feet, which is amazing for a child his size. He also ran the bases in 10.1 seconds and threw two strikes of the six pitches he was given. Young Dante not only won each individual competition, but he was also declared the overall winner with 488 points.
"He's a good athlete," Dan Cieri said. "So it's not like this came out of nowhere. But he came out first and we were told he was going to advance to the next round."
The sectional championships were held in North Bergen June 1, with Cieri facing off against 11 other local divisional winners.
"Now, I thought he had about as much chance winning as being the Holy Ghost," the elder Cieri said. "The competition was getting a little tougher now. These were the best ones throughout the area, the 12 best. The kids were a little bigger. Dante was the smallest kid out there."
Undaunted, young Dante was hard at work again, showing off his baseball skills, this time on a grander stage.
"This time, he hit the ball 96 feet, but ran the bases in 9.7 and threw one strike," Dan Cieri said. "So we really didn't know how well he did compared to everyone else. He was given a certificate. I figured that was it. it was nice for the kids and Dante did well, so I was happy."
Until Dan Cieri received word from North Bergen Volunteer Baseball League President Guy McCann that young Dante was good enough to win the sectional championship as well.
"We then received a letter from Georgia that Dante was being asked to compete in the championships at Yankee Stadium," Dan Cieri said. "He was in school when we got the letter. We wrote back, saying, of course, Dante would be there."
What kid wouldn't? Dante and his family will be guests of the Yankees for the game, but before then, he will compete with four other youngsters for the right to be the sectional champion.
"It's going to be a very proud Father's Day for me," Dan Cieri said. "I'm so happy for him. I'm amazed by it. I didn't expect it and I know he didn't either. It's a wonderful surprise, and we're all going to enjoy every minute."
The elder Cieri grew up in Union City and was an athlete at Emerson High School, including playing baseball. "The Yankees have always been my team," Cieri said. "I grew up with [Joe] DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris. I used to go to Yankee Stadium all the time with my Dad and pretend I was one of the Yankees, pounding the ball in my glove. It's hallowed ground, Yankee Stadium. I get all choked up just walking into Yankee Stadium."
Today, Dan Cieri gets the chance to see his son play at the revered ballpark.
"Dante's getting the opportunity I always wanted," Dan Cieri said. "At age 61, I'm getting to go to Yankee Stadium and see my son on the field. I'm finally getting there. I might have had to wait a while, but it's finally happening."
The elder Cieri said that Dante is handling the chance of a lifetime with a professional flair.
"He's not talking much about it," Dan Cieri said. "I think he's been very humbled by it. But he's very excited."
"It's a big day for me," Dante Cieri said. "I told some of my friends, but they don't believe me. I just hope I have fun and meet some of the Yankees."
At the very least, he'll be on the same field with his heroes, perhaps rubbing elbows with some. How many second graders can say that?