Saturday marked the official first day of the 2014 baseball season for Fairmont Little League as they kicked off Opening Day.
Uniforms were spotless, the field was freshly lined with chalk and there were plenty of smiles to go around as the teams trotted onto the field.
With a bit of rain coming through beforehand, the sun pushed its way through to make for a day of good weather.
“I thought everything went well. The weather held up for us which was nice,” said Joe’s Cars coach Alex Peschl. “The fields looked nice, the uniforms were ready, the kids looked good and everyone was excited. It was a good time.”
Some of the kids had been playing baseball for years and others were getting their first taste of the action. But no matter the age, fun was to be had by all.
Parents like Jennifer Bledsoe, whose son Brody is starting his first year in tee ball, had their cameras ready to capture the moment for their family.
For parents, nothing is as exciting as seeing their kids excited, a feeling Bledsoe experienced first hand as Brody begins his baseball journey.
“He wanted to (play). It was between soccer and baseball and he picked baseball,” Bledsoe said. “I think he was a little confused as to what he was going to do because we told him there was no game today but that he'd get to see all of the other players and teammates so he was a little excited. But then when he saw every body in uniform and the crowd, it was a big day.”
She explained, with a smile, that Brody, 6, has had the excitement for Opening Day ever since he first got his uniform, marking a big occasion for the family as a whole.
“He had to put it on that day and take pictures and go show Grandma and Grandpa,” she said, laughing. “His dad is coaching so it makes it even more special.”
Brody will wear No. 4 in his first season, the same number his father, Jimmy, wore when he played, she said.
As for the festivities, there were quite a few.
Fairmont Senior baseball coach Steve Naternicola kicked things off by throwing the ceremonial first pitch after Olivia Moroose sang the National Anthem.
For Naternicola, being able to come back to the Little League which sparked his baseball career was a pleasure.
“I enjoy it. I've coached out here from tee ball all the way up to Little League and I try to come out to all of the All Star games to watch which kids are coming up,” Naternicola said. “I've been coaching high school baseball for 25 years and some of the guys I coached in that first year, their kids are playing now.”
The coach himself has a grandson who is in his second year of tee ball.
Once the activities were well under way, the players, as well as fans, parents, coaches and volunteers, joined together in saying the Little League Pledge and a volunteer pledge.
From there, the 2013 10-11 and 9-10 year-old All Star teams were recognized, giving Naternicola and other fans a look into the future of Marion County baseball.
Following the introductions and parade of teams onto the field, the Little League players had a home run derby, in which Tanner Hoskinson won.
“They really enjoy it,” Peschl said of the home run derby. “They like it because the crowd gets into it. It's just something fun for them to do.”
Overall, whichever part of the day stood out the most, the kids of the surrounding community were at the forefront as they all gathered to start another fun season.
“Watching all the kids out here and seeing how many kids are involved, it's great,” Naternicola said. “They've got hundreds of kids out here and hopefully another David Carpenter or Jedd Gyorko will come out of it.”
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.
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