What is it about the smell of fresh-cut grass, the good feeling of a warm afternoon and the pop of a thrown baseball into a glove?
It’s intoxicating, it’s romantic, and it grips so many of us from the time we’re about 4 until we’re 94.
Baseball. America’s pastime. It’s a little kid’s dream of one day being a big leaguer, maybe even for the home-state Arizona Diamondbacks.
Did you or anyone you know ever sleep in uniform the night before a Little League opening game?
Last weekend, the city’s Little League made hundreds of kids feel like big leaguers for a day with opening-day festivities at Copper Sky Park.
There was the parade of teams, with players in full uniform, a mass of color, before the pledge of allegiance and national anthem.
Mayor Nancy Smith threw out the first pitch for softball and new Police Chief Mark Goodman made the initial toss for baseball.
The mayor joked at the City Council meeting a couple of days later that at least hers made it across the plate without first taking a bounce. The chief took it good naturedly – but the mayor better take care to not park in a no-parking zone.
And then it was time. Finally. Kids ages 4-16 in seven divisions of Little League baseball and six divisions of softball began their seasons.
Little League is an institution. It’s part of our fabric. It fosters dreams and fun and hope and goodwill, and teaches values, at least to the kids. Some of the parents, that’s another story.
And, who knows? Maybe one day we will be watching some kid whose uniform pants didn’t fit quite right last Saturday playing on TV for the Diamondbacks.
A gallery of scenes at Maricopa Little League Opening Day 2023, courtesy of Carl Hussey of Maricopa Little League.