The wall to wall sunshine and pleasant temperatures made Saturday the nicest day in recent memory –just in time for the Mountaintop Area Little League Opening Day parade and ceremony.
Approximately five hundred little leaguers -T-Ball, Coach Pitch, Minors and Majors boys and girls, ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old –walked the short route from the Mountaintop Joint Sanitation Authority to the Baseball/Softball Complex at Alberdeen. Dressed in Oriole orange, Rangers blue, Pirates yellow and Phillies red, the players marched out onto the outfield of Orloski Field for the opening ceremonies.
Board Member and Emcee, Dave Rediker, welcomed the crowd of players and parents and kept the ceremony moving. After the invocation by Mountaintop Family Church Pastor, Brian Knorr, Air force Staff Sergeant Brian Biddinger and his son, Majors Pirates player Eric Biddinger, raised the American flag as Shea Kilborn sang our National Anthem.
State Representative Karen Boback wished the players well and encouraged them to try their best and have fun. Afterward, guest speaker, Joe Grzenda, a twenty year veteran pitcher in Major League Baseball, spoke to the players. Grzenda began his career in 1955 when he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers right out of High School and holds a 1958 record of 16-5 with 189 strikeouts with the Birmingham Barons. Grzenda pitched relief the next twenty years for the Kansas City A’s, New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Senators, pitching in the 1969 ALCS for the Twins. He ended his career in 1975 at the age of 38 with the New York Yankees Organization. He threw the last pitch in the last game for the Senators in 1971 and handed President George W. Bush the same ball to throw out the first pitch in 2005 when baseball returned to D. C. in the first ever Nationals game. Grzenda told the players what it took to be a major league player, citing his “three D’s” of Determination, Dedication and Desire: “In the field, during my whole time in the majors, I didn’t make one error.” said Grzenda “Always, always do your best.”
“Do well in school” concluded Grzenda “You can be the best ballplayer in the world but you still need good grades to get a college scholarship.” League President, Pat Rinehimer addressed the players and their parents, encouraging them to “Enjoy This Game” –the theme for this year’s Opening Day.
“Take a look around, are your parents here? Your grandparents? Aunts and Uncles? Are they cheering you on? Give them a high five, a wave, a smile. If you notice all the people around you supporting you, you can ….. “
The players responded “Enjoy this game!”
“Play every out…Don’t worry about the last game, the next game; Enjoy THIS game” she continued.
Representative Boback and Mr. Grzenda tossed out the first pitch to Kristen Andrews and Josh Sapella, respectively. Several players were then awarded four packs to an upcoming Railriders game through a lottery, courtesy of Dr. David Foster. At the end of the ceremonies, players were given a complimentary Gatorade and hot dog, courtesy of Abes Hot Dogs and Gatorade. The buzz then spread throughout the complex as games began at 1pm and continued through the evening. The Mountaintop Area Little League baseball/softball regular season will run through mid-June with All Stars finishing around July.
For more information on the league and its activities, you can visit them on facebook or their website at www.mountaintoparealittleleague.com