What’s a Little League baseball season without an official Opening Day, complete with pomp and circumstance and some special ceremonies that will make for scrapbook material for kids and parents alike?
Pasadena American Little League tried for all that back on Feb. 22, but the weather didn’t cooperate, raining out the annual season-opening festivities – although the skies did clear enough for some games to be played later that day.
But on Saturday morning, March 7, with the season already a few weeks into its schedule of games, the PALL will take another swing at Opening Day ceremonies – though showers were again in the early-morning forecast, beginning around 4 a.m. and ending around 8 a.m.
“The (league) president is going to let us know when he checks the field at 6 a.m. on Saturday,’’ PALL vice president James Yin told Pasadena Now on Friday. “The forecast says rain. We are on unless the rain prevents us.”
The official forecast for 9 a.m. – when the ceremonies are set to begin — is “cloudy.”
If that’s the case, and if the fields at Hamilton Park are not too wet, all players from all the league’s various levels – almost 500 players from 35 teams – will run the bases together to kick of the Opening Day festivities.
Then, according to Kevin Lewis, PALL’s president, Kalie Welch from the “Rockstars Of Tomorrow” music academy will sing the national anthem, and the John Muir Alumni Drum Corp “will bang us into the season with some sweet beats and we will officially throw out the first pitch.’’
In all, the ceremony is expected to last about one hour, and the PALL Challenger baseball team, made up of special-needs kids, will then play a game.
This year, Yin said, there are 477 players on 35 teams across six divisions, including three Junior teams, six Majors teams, six Minors-AAA teams, seven Minors-AA teams, 12 T-ball teams (for the really young kids) and one Challenger teams.
Each team has a manager, and assistant manager and a team parent.
But it’s not just the players who makes Little League such a big deal in Pasadena.
There are also, according to Yin, hundreds of parent volunteers pulling snack-bar duty, setting up and maintaining the league’s fields at Hamilton and Victory parks, and dealing with issues ranging from equipment, uniforms, scheduling, umpiring and special event.
“It definitely takes a village to get this thing off the ground,’’ Yin said. “It doesn’t just happen. Everybody gets together and MAKES it happen.’’
The regular season runs through May, and then around June 1, four All-Star teams are chosen in the Futures division (9 years old or younger) as well as in the 8-10s, 9-11s and 10-12s.
“Last year, our 8-10s won the District 17 Title and our Futures were runner-up for District 17 Title,’’ Yin said.
But beyond the wins and losses and standings, baseball is a uniter, Yin said.
“It’s a great sense of community,’’ said Yin, whose 9-year-old son has been playing in the league since his T-ball days at age 4.
“We have the 500 players, or whatnot, but everybody either lives here or they go to school in Pasadena. It’s kinda nice – it’s your neighbors, you get to meet all these families.
“Baseball takes a long time, the parents are in the stands hanging out, the volunteer coaches are there, working together trying to get the kids developed. And the kids get to hang out and have fun. And when you walk around town, you see other players and other families. It’s close-knit.’’
PALL was founded in 1954 as part of Little League International, a worldwide youth baseball organization. It’s one of three leagues in Pasadena, also including Pasadena Southwest and West Pasadena. Where a player lives or goes to school determines their particular league. PALL merged a few years back with the city’s Central league.
Saturday, PALL’s 2020 season opens… officially.. finally… hopefully.
For more information about Pasadena American Little League, visit http://pallbb.org/.