The weather could not have been any better Saturday, March 22 for Oakdale Baseball Association’s (OBA) Opening Day celebration. A huge crowd of people soaked up the sun and showed up for the big day at T.L. Davis Sports Complex.
Festivities started at 10 a.m. as all 600 kids that make up 50 teams lined up behind the home run fence and were treated to T-shirts in a T-shirt toss from Steves Chevrolet, with 225 shirts thrown. Immediately following the T-shirt frenzy, the teams made their way to the field in preparation for the National Anthem, which was performed by Oakdale High School freshman Stephanie Ortiz and members of the Oakdale High School marching band. They were also joined by Veterans of Foreign Wars Color Guard unit that displayed the colors. An invocation was delivered by Sierra Baptist Church Pastor Joe Ferguson. All 22 OBA board members were introduced, from President David Jablonski to Concessions Managers Tascia Davis and Mike Wolf.
Along with providing the T-shirt cost, Steves Chevrolet/General Motors made a hefty donation to the OBA as a check for $500 was presented by Jeff Steves to President David Jablonski on the pitcher’s mound during opening ceremonies. Steves Chevrolet also sponsors an OBA team.
“We want to thank them for their continuing generosity and sponsorship of youth sports in our community,” Jablonski said.
Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul threw out the ceremonial first pitch as she threw a strike into catcher Hunter Carver’s glove.
“OBA is a wonderful organization. It’s great to see all the kids having fun and learning. I am honored that they asked me to be a part of it. It is truly amazing to see how big it (OBA) has grown over time,” said Paul. “Everybody works so hard to make it a great experience for the kids, parents and coaches alike. OBA is truly a community event. So many sponsors lend a hand … David Jablonski and the entire staff have done a marvelous job year in and year out.”
The kids made their way back to the infield as they were introduced team by team, along with team sponsor and coaches named as well, then it was time to race down third base line and across home plate, lining up between home and first base for team photos. The teams were then ready to play ball and took their respective fields.
Besides baseball, there was a lot to see and experience at T.L. Davis, even Modesto Nuts mascot “Wally” showed up for the fun as he signed autographs, joked with the kids and parents as well as handing out team schedules and other announcements including “Help Name the New Member of the Modesto Nuts Mascot Team” which will be a lady pistachio. Fans can vote for her name via Facebook. Kids also could get their helmets painted while they waited for their games to start, enjoy ice cream from Baskin Robbins (that was served in mini MLB baseball helmets), pizza from Mountain Mikes as well as other great treats from the snack shack. There were also activities for the adults as well, as they looked at cars from Steves Chevrolet that were onsite, tasty tri tip sandwiches that were provided by Steve Medlen’s House of Beef, and could also relax with a massage. Both kids and adults also purchased tickets for a fundraising raffle, with all of the proceeds going to OBA, prizes ranging from gift cards for restaurants, baseball equipment, movie packs, and much more.
“Overall, Opening Day was a big success, through the efforts of all the OBA members,” Jablonski said. “To see the support from the kids’ family and friends who came out … it was great for the program as well as the community.”
OBA games are held during the week, Monday through Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays mornings beginning at 9 a.m. at T.L. Davis Sports Complex.