TR Robertson -As things slowly return to “the way they used to be” the return of Little League Baseball signals the start of Spring and Vista American Little League is the first to open in the city. Saturday, at Vista Sports Park – 1600 Sports Park Way, excited little leaguers, parents, grand-parents, and friends were ready to start a new season after a year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All the pomp and circumstance befitting the beginning of the Little League season was in full swing as the teams their managers and coaches prepared to be introduced to those in attendance and to take part in the opening day ceremonies. Rob Larkins, Communications Officer for Vista American, said “When COVID-19 hit, our 2020 Spring and Fall seasons were cancelled, giving the kids of the community not many choices for fun outdoor activities, bonding with each other and creating amazing memories through baseball. There’s still some hesitance, but now that we’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s refreshing to see our community coming together once again and we’re tremendously proud of all of our Managers, Coaches, Team Parents and League volunteers for being leaders that are helping re-affirm our community and restore the joy of playing baseball for the kids.”
Vista American Board President Tracey Terry said, “I am so happy for the kids and the chance they have to return to playing baseball. It has been a group effort to keep this going. A special thank you to Rob Anderson from the City of Vista Parks and Rec for all of his help.” This year’s sponsor is George’s Auto Shop along with Service Sponsors Sonic, Innovative Pest Control and SoCal Removal and Relocation. Vista American is looking for additional sponsors to assist with the funds needed to help the league with various projects. Anyone interested can contact Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This season 207 players are enrolled. Parents interested getting their children involved in Tee ball or Single A can still apply. Go to www.VALLbaseball.com for more information. There are currently 12 female players on various teams. Everyone is welcomed to participate.
Teams were introduced by Rob Larkin, beginning with the Junior Division players. The following is a list of the teams and their managers (No Padres team this year as league unable to get the uniforms in time for the start of the season).
- Junior Tigers – Manager George Gonzales
- Junior Marlins – Manager Jorge Pinuelas
- Major A’s – Manager Jose Martinez
- Major Angels – Manager Lee Hodges
- Major White Sox – Manager Daniel Jaime
- AAA Nationals – Manager Peter Celeste
- AAA Twins – Juan Scott
- AAA Mariners – Manager Alex Bailey
- AA Yankees – Manager Julio Diaz
- AA Red Sox – Manager Randy McQuarrie
- AA Red – Manager Roshawn Rufus
- AA Dodgers – Manager Jennifer Deolarte
- A Braves – Manager Whitney Castellanos
- A Mets – Manager Hector Hueso
- A Phillies – Manager Brandon Burns
- A Pirates – Manager Ross Long
- Tee ball Brewers – Manager Cornelio Iglesias
- Tee ball Cardinals – Manager Jonathan Redman
- Tee ball Cubs – Manager Matthew Williams
- Teball Giants – Manager Ricky Imperali
With teams on the field, the National Anthem was played, the Little League Pledge was led by the 14-year-old players, and the Vista American Board was introduced. Board members for this year include:
- President Tracey Terry
- Vice President Jimmy Lindemann
- Player Agent Shauna Ketcher
- Treasurer Marcela Torres
- Safety Officer Araceli Diaz
- Communication and Information Officer Rob Larkins
- Umpire in-charge Dennis Midkiff
- Purchaser Jorge Pinuelas
- Tee ball and Single A Rep Veronica McCloskey
- Equipment Manager Steve Evans
- Snack Bar Vanessa Ramos
- Spirit Wear Adrianna Montano
Throwing out the first pitch was 13-year-old Nayleen Griffith, a brain surgery survivor, who threw the pitch to her 12-year-old brother Teagan, a player for the Major A’s. The opening day activities culminated with the youngest player in Vista American, Kristian Nance of the Tee ball Giants announcing, “Play Ball!”. A series of games would begin on two fields beginning at 11 am and the season was finally underway. Teams will play anywhere from 10 to 23 games depending on the division and finals will be held in May and June, again depending on the division.
Board President Tracey Terry also wanted to let anyone out there know that the league is looking for a Fund-Raising Coordinator to help the league raise funds to keep the league going and providing everything the players and coaches would need to have a successful season.
In a follow-up article, Vista American’s efforts to refurbish and rebuild their official home at French Field, to hopefully return baseball to that field, will be covered. The field is currently being used for team practices, but there are several structures and facilities needed to make the field usable for crowds, teams, and playable conditions. Sponsorships and donations are needed to assist with this large project as well. Contact email@example.com if interested in helping with this renovation.
But as Kristian said, for the time being, let’s “Play Ball!”.