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Saturday opening day for Litte Leaguers

April 16, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The excitement and jitters of opening day swept through Washington County Saturday as most of the area's youth baseball leagues launched their 2000 season.

"My heart started pounding as soon as I woke up," said Tim Hamilton, manager of the American Little League team Goodwill Athletic Club.

"I'm excited," said Hamilton, 42, of Hagerstown. "These kids are ready to play."

One of Hamilton's players, Billy Bucklew, 11, of Hagerstown, said, "I'm nervous because I have to pitch and bat first."

"I'm excited. I like everything about playing (baseball)," said Jennifer Humphreys, 10, of Hagerstown.

Humphreys plays on the National Little League team Western MD Sportsmen Club with her older brother, Anthony, who said he "likes the pressure" of opening day.

Debbie Everts, Little League's District 1 administrator, said Saturday was opening day for most of the youth baseball leagues in Washington County.

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"This is our big day," Everts said.

Boys and girls ages 5-18 play in the several leagues. Everts said there are about 3,500 players in Washington County.

In Williamsport, the Conococheague Little League honored one of their founding fathers and the league's first batter.

In 1954, Joseph Scott was president of the local Lions Club when a group of residents asked for help forming a little league.

Scott, now 85, persuaded the club's committee members to sponsor the Little League. Through the work of "a lot of volunteers," the league was born, he said.

"Hagerstown had already organized one and all the remarks were good. So we thought we could do it too," said Scott, who is also a former principal of Williamsport High School. "It turned out better than expected.

"It's a wonderful thing for the community. And it keeps these boys out of trouble," he said.

Scott threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's games at Williamsport's Byron Memorial Park.

Don Harsh Jr. served as Scott's honorary battery mate.

Harsh, now president of Hagerstown Trust, was the league's first batter in 1954.

"I was scared to death," said Harsh.

But many of the players in Williamsport on Saturday said they weren't nervous, just excited.

"We've been practicing a lot. ... put in a lot of work and we want to win," said 12-year-old Donnie Lapole, after warming up with a game of pepper.

"I'm ready to go. I'm pumped up," Lapole said.

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