The Hood River Little League hosted its Opening Day at HRVHS on Saturday, with hundreds of parents, coaches, staff and ball players of all ages coming out to kick off another season of baseball.
The ceremony was slated for 10 am but the crowds had gathered by 9:30, with the little leaguers streaming throughout the expansive grass field next to the high school’s varsity baseball diamond. While families gathered in the stands, coaches attempted to corral their anxious athletes into coordinated lines so the introductions and walk-ins could be made. The kids were chasing one another, tossing balls back and forth, and getting fresh grass stains on their crisp, clean uniforms — pretty good start.
The teams were paraded in from the visiting sideline, with each coach leading their athletes in a “jogging” loop that saw them touch home plate and head up the third baseline before lining up at one of a few dozen markers on the infield. The first few teams were timid, the athletes unsure what to do, how eager they wished to display themselves. A few bold kids took off for home and rounded it as though they were stretching a double into a triple; once that precedent was set, every kid was the same. The crowd cheered them on and celebrated the new teams and athletes in the league.
Following the team introductions, the league board of directors was announced and president Danica Harjo said a few words before introducing the guest speaker, Head Umpire Dave Cunningham. Cunningham spoke passionately about his decades of little league experience as an umpire and what the game means to him; his memories and reflections on the true meaning of little league baseball were endearing and insightful.
Players were then recognized individually and the ceremonies concluded shortly thereafter, with the crowd providing a resounding applause for all participants in this season of youth baseball and softball. Several games were scheduled to take place and did, despite the encroaching threat of rain that befell Hood River this last weekend. It seemed a fitting way to kick off the season; little league instills a love for the game in all — with that in the heart, what’s a little rain on the back?