‘Play fair, have fun, make friends for life’

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BY LOREEN BERLIN: West Garden Grove Youth Baseball and West Grove Girls Softball held their opening day Saturday morning. It began with a parade starting at Edgar Park and culminated at Bell Intermediate School for baseball and Enders Elementary for softball.

Although it had rained through the night, Saturday dawned with a little sunshine and lots of clouds with teams dressed in their respective uniforms, looking very official.

BY LOREEN BERLIN: West Garden Grove Youth Baseball and West Grove Girls Softball held their opening day Saturday morning. It began with a parade starting at Edgar Park and culminated at Bell Intermediate School for baseball and Enders Elementary for softball.

Although it had rained through the night, Saturday dawned with a little sunshine and lots of clouds with teams dressed in their respective uniforms, looking very official.

However, the playing fields, even though protected by being covered, needed extra time to dry out. The only drawback was each participating group would start one-hour later, but other than that, all proceeded as planned.

Parade cars were provided by the Model T Club of Long Beach.

During the opening ceremonies, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Boy Scout Troop No. 1103 and Cub Pack No. 271, followed by Miss Garden Grove Missy Mendoza singing the National Anthem.

Mayor Steve Jones was the Grand Marshal for the parade and was also asked to give some opening remarks, which included, "Have a wonderful season; have fun and play fair.”

California State Sen. Janet Nguyen was on hand for the opening ceremonies. She noted that baseball has been a favorite American pastime since the 1800s when baseball was played in back yards.

Nguyen asked the young participants to give their parents a "hand" for all of their help.

"It's a team effort," she said. "Your parents and all of the volunteers and your coaches do this because they love you and want to help you learn teamwork. I echo what the mayor said: play fair, have fun and make friends for life.”

In attendance were Garden Grove city council members John O'Neil, Kris Beard, Stephanie Klopfenstein and Kimberly Nguyen, along with Garden Grove Unified School District Superintendent Gabriela Mafi and school principals from Enders, Garden Park and Patton.

Also in attendance was softball Olympic gold medalist Amanda Freed, who is a Garden Grove Pacifica High School alumni and former Pacifica varsity softball team member. She was also a UCLA Bruin.

Local Garden Grover Carly Hatcher Dalton said she stepped up to Freed and introduced herself, remembering the time she played against Freed while attending Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.

"I remember how super-excited I was to play against Amanda Freed, because our coach had prepared us for how good of a player she was," Hatcher-Dalton said. "I played against Freed in my freshman year and got a hit off of her!”

The opening day ceremonies is sponsored by the City of Garden Grove, which provides the mobile stage and police officers to block-off streets for the parade.

All of the youth teams were announced and acknowledged by West Garden Grove Baseball President Terry Anderson and Auxiliary President Joi Stewart.

Six baseball players read a poem from the stage. It was titled “He is just a little Boy," and the poem’s author is not known:

He stands at the plate, with his heart pounding fast.

The bases are loaded, the die has been cast.

Mom and Dad cannot help him, he stands all alone.

A hit at this moment, would send the team home.

The ball meets the plate, he swings and he misses.

There's a groan from the crowd, with some boos and hisses.

A thoughtless voice cries, Strike out the bum!

Tears fill his eves, the game's no longer fun.

So open your heart and give him a break. For it's moments like this,

a man you can make.

Please keep this in mind, when you hear someone forget.

He is just a little boy, and not a man yet.