Advertisement

Longtime Little League coach throws out the first ball of the Washington County season

April 06, 2013|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com
  • Players line up for the parade of teams Saturday during South Mountain Little League opening day in Boonsboro.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

With a presentation of players, the national anthem, a pledge to do their best and a heartfelt “Play ball,” Little Leagues across Washington County kicked off the 2013 baseball season Saturday.

Nine of the county’s 12 Little Leagues opened their seasons with ceremonies Saturday. Federal, National and Valley will hold their opening ceremonies Saturday, April 13.

Ryne Forrest, 11, of Hagerstown, said playing ball is fun and keeps him fit. He has played three or four years in the West End Little League, he said, and was eager for the season to begin.

“We’ve been practicing a couple times a week. I’m excited about today,” he said. “It’s surprising the first game is already here. I think we are gonna win.”

Ryne’s Fraternal Order of Police teammate Tyler Ashkettle, 12, of Hagerstown, said he plays outfield, catcher and pitcher. Tyler said he likes making friends through baseball. But he also was looking forward to playing against someone he has known for a long time, his cousin, Logan Randall, 12, of Hagerstown, who plays for AFL-CIO.

“If I beat him, I get to say something. If he beats me, he gets to say something,” Tyler said.

Logan, though, who said he’d been working hard on fielding, hitting and pitching, planned to withhold his words.

“I’m gonna show it on the field,” he said assuredly. “We’re just gonna beat ’em.”

Lloyd Kelley of Hagerstown, president of the West End Little League, said 165 players ages 4 to 12 celebrated that league’s season opening with their families at Hellane Park. Kelley coaches the Western Enterprise team, which includes his son, Matthew Kelley, 9.

“I love seeing the kids have fun and learn. And it keeps them off the streets,” Kelley said.

Leslie “Wink” Suder, 74, of Hagerstown, threw out the West End season’s first pitch. Suder has become somewhat of a legend in the league, having coached for 40 years, then serving two more as league president. Following his pitch, young players whispered to their coaches asking if they could get Suder’s autograph.

Mark Barton, 49, or Hagerstown, said Suder had coached him and his son, Ryan Barton, who is now 18. Mark Barton now manages the West End Shell team.

“(Suder) just did it for the kids,” Barton said. “He done it and I’m following in his footsteps.”

Suder said he began coaching in 1968, when the oldest of his six children was 10, and he eventually coached them all.

“Some of my best friends, I met through West End Little League,” Suder said. “Little League is probably one of the most important things in a young child’s early years. Twenty years from now, they will be coming back here and talking about things that happened when they played.”

Clearly, the experience affected Suder’s children. He said his daughter was involved for some years with the Washington County Girls Softball League at Kemps Mill Park, and his youngest son, Andy Suder, is active with South Mountain Little League.

Andy Suder, 44, of Boonsboro, was at the ball park on Monroe Road in Boonsboro for the South Mountain Little League season opening Saturday, serving in roles as league vice president and coach for Terry’s Auto. He split his time as his son, Michael Suder, 10, played on that team, and another of his four children, Daniel Suder, 5, simultaneously played on a different field for Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd.

“Growing up with your father being your coach, and the coach of all your brothers and all your cousins, you want to pass that on to your kids and be involved in their lives,” Andy Suder said. “Because it strengthens the bond between father and son, father and daughter, and then you, in turn, want to pass that same experience on to your kids.”

Andy Suder said the fundamentals taught in Little League are the same regardless of “where you play, or where you grow up, or where you coach later on in life.”

“The people involved in each league want the same thing,” he said. “They want to teach kids the fundamentals of baseball and start them out in life being good sports.”

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|