Serving as announcer for the West Pasadena Little League Opening Day at Robinson Park was a great honor. Hearing parents scream and applaud eagerly as I read their kids' names from the team rosters, watching the young ballplayers wave their caps in the air with all the pride of Major Leaguers, seeing coaches take their bows humbly – being careful not to steal the spotlight from the kids . . . All of this underscored that this was a big moment in the lives of these children – a moment that should be played up big to help the kids feel big.
The commitment to making Opening Day special for the children brought out a who's-who of area leaders. As Pasadena Police officers (including Chief Philip Sanchez) served pancakes and smiles, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, city officials (including Human Services and Recreation Director Mercy Santoro and Northwest Programs Manager Lola Osborne), and community leaders (like Pasadena NAACP President Gary Moody) mingled with families.
Post 19 of the Pasadena Police Explorers presented the flags with their customary precision. Minister Betty Griffin-Keller, First Lady of New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, offered a stirring invocation and a power-packed acapella rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner." Words of inspiration were shared by veteran sports heroes Michael Houlemard (who played for the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro Leagues) and Stephen Wade (Jackie Robinson's second cousin who matriculated through West Pasadena Little League, Muir, PCC and Santa Clara University). And the ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Horace Wormely, Deputy Director of Pasadena's Human Services and Recreation Department, who coached West Pasadena Little League teams to multiple championships, including a historic Regional win in 1988.
Throughout the day there was scattered talk about the need to grow the program, about how participation in Little League has declined nationally (due in part to the increased popularity of soccer and, to a lesser extent, basketball). But for the West Pasadena Little Leaguers and coaches who lined up on the infield and the relatives and friends who cheered them on from behind the backstop, Opening Day at Robinson Park was just as huge as if it had been at Dodger Stadium or the Big A. It was a tremendous start to what promises to be another tremendous season.
Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.