March 16, 2012 > Batter Up!
By Helen Tracey-Noren and Sebastian Noren
Photos By Sebastian Noren
The smell of dirt and grass swept through the cheering crowd with the slight chill of winter still lingering in the air. But with thoughts of peanuts and crackerjacks filling the minds of fans everywhere, it was undeniable... Little League Baseball has now begun.
"Opening day is always a special day," said Moira Jacobs, president of Niles-Centerville Little League (NCLL). Jacobs addressed more than 350 people at their home fields behind Vallejo Mill Elementary School in Fremont on Saturday, March 10. Baseball enthusiasts from 5 to 85 years old joined together to officially declare the Little League season open. Cameras of all types snapped photos in an attempt to capture every moment.
Jacobs reminded the NCLL crowd that time passes faster than a speeding baseball. "We hope you all remember to enjoy every moment you spend here," Jacobs said. "In the blink of an eye, your t-ball players will be asking for your car keys, so enjoy it now."
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Fremont-American Little League (FALL) also held opening day ceremonies at Marshall Field near Stratford Elementary School. League president Wayne Barrs administered the oath of players and parents to respect coaches, officials, and that, win or lose, they would do their best and have fun.
Both leagues introduced their teams as they took a lap around the bases to settle into designated positions on the field. Cheers and applause from proud family members and friends could be heard blocks away. FALL and NCLL also announced Tournament of Champions (TOC) awards for District 14. There are currently eight leagues in District 14 including NCLL and FALL.
Alan Briscoe, equipment manager and the man who threw the opening pitch for FALL, believes Little League is important for everyone in the community. "It's an opportunity for the kids to get together and learn some fundamentals as well as sportsmanship," Briscoe said. "[The kids] have a good time and play with their peers and their friends." Briscoe has had his two sons enrolled in Little League since T-ball and they will receive their 10-year pins this year to commemorate the achievement.
Though both leagues have been around for the better part of half a century, FALL believes that they are "The Little League that could." Sabrina Moscon, sponsorship chairman for FALL describes why she thinks this is true. "Since we are smaller, everybody knows everybody's name," Moscon said. "It's more family-knit and closer than being in a bigger league, and I think that's an advantage."
FALL only has about 100 players enrolled this season, less than half the amount NCLL has in their league. But despite their small numbers, Briscoe agrees with Moscon about how close the members of FALL are. "It's really a family kind of atmosphere. A lot of friendships develop from it," Briscoe said. "Winning isn't everything, it's having fun and having the kids enjoy playing with other players."
Little League is also an opportunity for players to maintain friendships despite the fact that they may attend different schools. T-ball players Jacob Espinosa and Gavin Moscon attend different school, but "we're still best friends," Gavin said. Both boys play for the Indians in the Fremont-American Little League.
NCLL is still accepting players for the 2012 season with a registration fee of $160 for one player and $50 for each additional player enrolled. However, the FALL closed their roster for the season. There are also a number of opportunities in both leagues for parents or family members to get involved from snack shack duty to team coordinator positions. To find out how to be a volunteer for either league, check out www.eteamz.com/nc for Niles-Centerville or go to www.eteamz.com/fall-fremont for the Fremont-American league. Additional Little League districts, teams and volunteer opportunities can be found at www.eteamz.com.
As the dust settled and the crowds vacated the fields, players remained for the real action. That is when memories are made and, most importantly, when the fun happens. Barrs reminded the FALL crowd of this with his parting words, "We hope everyone has a good time and has fun, because that's what it's all about."
He concluded with the traditional opening statement... "Let's Play Ball!"