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'Most urban Little League in Hagerstown' hits the field

April 10, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • Jerry's Sports T-Ball player Jayce Butts, 6, left, has his cap adjusted Saturday by teammate Kayli Kline, also 6, prior to their opening day game at American Little League in Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Opening day for American Little League at Brandenburg Memorial Park was all about the renewal of tradition and pride in Hagerstown's urban heart.

"Our philosophy is to make it happen no matter what," league President Tony Caudo told those gathered after the players and teams were introduced by longtime opening day emcee Ralph Mauriello as they took the field for the national anthem and first pitches.

Caudo pointed to the park's refurbished field and noted efforts by the league's new board of directors to improve its own operation for the 61st season of baseball on Mill Street.

"We're just looking forward to being able to come back into the community for these kids," Caudo said. "We feel that baseball is an avenue to give these kids an opportunity to come down here and learn something. We're the most urban Little League in Hagerstown and we're really looking forward to the kids playing the game this year."

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Since last season, the "hills and valleys" in the league's field were removed with the support of a growing number of sponsors, including Turf & Dirt of Hagerstown, which Caudo said did about $7,000 worth of work for about $700.

"We want these kids to feel like they're like the big guy on TV," Caudo said of the infield's professional features, including cut-ins at first and third base.

"There's a lot of history here. We just have to tap that history to get it to these kids and I think that's where we're at right now," Caudo said. "The board members are dedicated to this league and these kids, and our sponsors are a big part of that."

Lori Hardman, a team manager, said she would like the players this season to learn the game and have fun.

"That's what it's all about," Hardman said.

T-ball coach Jeremy Butts said he would like to teach his players "a little something" about the game for next season, but his main goal was that they enjoy themselves.

James Brooks, like other players interviewed Saturday, said he hoped to hit a ball out of the park and have fun.

"At least hit two home runs," Brooks said when asked if he had any goals for the season.

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