'I want to play baseball'

April 19, 1997


Staff Writer

On a chilly, windy morning more suited for football than baseball, there was still no mistake that Saturday was opening day for Little League.

Throughout Washington County some 4,000 boys and girls, from 6 to 18, proudly donned their clean uniforms and took to finely manicured fields for a rite of spring that captures both children and adults.

"It's opening day and you're just getting started," said 12-year-old Chad Widmyer, explaining his excitement just prior to opening ceremonies at the National Little League, off Frederick Street, in Hagerstown.


A teammate of his from the Longmeadow Exxon team, Chris Peterson, was also caught up in the day.

"You get to walk out on the field and show everybody your uniform," gushed Chris, 11.

The wintry-like morning air made hot chocolate, not soft drinks, the pre-game drink of choice for most players, coaches and parents. And many people found refuge beneath blankets and coats.

The only thing that wasn't chilled was the mood.

"My son loves to play, so this is a big day," said Stephanie Stone, 43, of Funkstown.

Her son, David, has been getting ready all week for opening day. By the time he woke up at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, he couldn't wait to put his Antietam Firefighters Union uniform on.

"I want to play baseball," said David, who is 6.

Stephanie Stone said the whole family is involved. Her husband is a coach and her other son is too young to play at 3, but he makes a good spectator.

"This is pretty exciting," she said.

At 12 years old, Danny Luiperspeck is a veteran of Little League, now playing in his seventh season. As a member of the Hartle's team in the National Little League, he wants to make the all-star team this year. He knows what that requires.

"I want to win and play good, and steal a base," he said.

His coach, Andy Hoffman, said the players always enjoy opening day.

"It gives them something to do. It lets them know summer is near . . . even if it is cold," he said.

For the past 16 years Jay Stouffer has been district administrator for Little League Baseball, responsible for 17 leagues in Western Maryland; 12 of the leagues are in Washington County.

The Maugansville resident said its nearly a year-round job, with numerous meetings, telephone calls and arrangements to make. But he still gets a thrill when the first pitch is thrown.

"It's just exciting starting a new season," said Stouffer, 61.

He said there is more to Little League than kids playing games.

"I think it's real important. It teaches them teamwork. It teaches them character," Stouffer said.

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