A record number of participants – 802 in total – have officially started their seasons.
Opening Day ceremonies for the Oakdale Baseball-Softball Association played out under sunny skies on Saturday, March 18. Taking advantage of a welcome break in the wet weather, the youngsters turned out for games, team photos and getting in some fun.
Providing music prior to the Opening Ceremony was the Oakdale Community Band, under the direction of Ron Quintanal, while the teams assembled and the spectators settled in.
Oakdale Mayor Cher Bairos served as emcee, with assistance from OBSA Vice President Fred Lynch.
Pastor Henry Raven provided the invocation and the U.S. Marines presented the colors with Carla Hawley performing the National Anthem.
Throwing out the ceremonial first pitches were Mayor Bairos, who tossed the softball to catcher Annabelle Timmons, 9, a member of the 10U Georgia Bulldogs softball team, and Richard Gilton, sending the baseball in to catcher Braydon Brodowicz, 13, a member of the Major Cardinals.
Coordinating the festivities was Tiffany Lutz, with board members Paul Westberg and Samantha Franco also assisting.
Teams range from the youngest T-Ball squads to Babe Ruth U8, U10 and U12/14 softball, Cal Ripken Rookie, Minor and Major squads and Babe Ruth baseball. In addition to the many Oakdale teams, Riverbank and Escalon also have some teams playing with Oakdale during the season.
Part of the ceremony also included the introduction of each team, by level from youngest to oldest, along with the names of the sponsors for each, with the players then getting the chance to run the bases. Several games were also scheduled throughout the day at the T.L. Davis fields and a silent auction featured a number of tables with items up for bid.
“Beautiful day, parents and families are here supporting our community and all the sponsors … and just the volunteers, we want to thank all the volunteers, that spent countless, countless hours coming out here to make sure the fields look great,” noted Bairos. “City of Oakdale, the school district, Teichert and all the other sponsors.”
Officials said the number of players signed up is outstanding, with 22 total T-Ball teams along with five U8 softball, five U10 softball and five U12/U14 softball. In addition, there are seven Cal Ripken Rookie American teams, five Cal Ripken Rookie National squads and seven Cal Ripken Minor teams. Seven teams are suiting up for Cal Ripken Majors and four for Babe Ruth Baseball.
“Honestly, to have 800 kids here and to be able to do something like this, I mean, that’s why we’re in it, we’re here for the kids,” said Lynch. “Mother Nature has not been the most friendly in the past month but we had a lot of people out here for the past few days, some great sunlight, some wind that was much needed; the fields aren’t 100 percent perfect but, you know what, it was important to get everybody out here today and to be able to play the games and, most importantly, get these kids out on the fields, that’s what today’s all about.”