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Marching To The Batter’s Box

Local little league celebrates with

parade and 57th Opening Day

The 57th year of the Garden City Athletic Association’s (GCAA) baseball, softball and Challenger Division seasons got underway with the Opening Day parade on Saturday, April 6.

Once the crowd gathered at the village gazebo, Al Vanesco, GCAA president, introduced Mayor John Watras for the ceremonial throwing out of the first ball. Before tossing a fresh set of baseballs out to the young boys and girls, Watras told the group “we are looking for good sportsmanship, respect for our coaches and players, and to build a solid learning environment, but most of all, to go out and have fun.”

The mayor then led the group of trustees and GCAA board members to toss out the first pitch to the eager girls and boys.

With the first pitch completed, it was time for the guests of honor to pick the top four banners that marched in the parade and were on display. The group selected the Boston Red Sox (with real red socks hanging), Oakland A’s (one of the most colorful), Chicago Cubs (excellent mascot replica) and a hometown favorite, the New York Yankees.

The baseball players ranged from five years old in the Rookie League up to seventeen-year-olds in the Senior League. Except for the Rookie League, which plays only on Saturdays, teams normally play twice a week, one weeknight game and once on Saturdays. The regular season takes the teams through early June. For age groups 9 and above, the teams will compete in playoffs that lead up to Championship Saturday

At the end of the season tournament teams are selected for several of the age groups and they go on to compete in local and national tournaments – maybe even getting to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.    

The girls softball division is organized into five leagues with the youngest in kindergarten playing twice a week in a clinic setting. The remainder of the divisions go up to and include eighth grade, and they play the majority of their games on week nights.  

The Garden City Athletic Association also supports the local chapter of the Challenger Division, which has as its most fundamental goal to give everyone a chance to play, regardless of limitations. The baseball program consists of games as well as clinics designed to teach and improve the skill level of those children involved so that these youngsters become part of a regular athletic program. The Challenger Division plays its games each Saturday at the Garden City Community Baseball fields (#1 and 3) right behind the Garden City pool.