We know that spring is here, not by the amount of pollen in the air, but by the smell of freshly cut grass, and the noise of T-Ball players seeing their first baseball action.
They start them pretty early these days. A parent can now sign up kids up for T-Ball at 4 years old. Five year olds were tough enough, so I can't wait to go out and see a new coach trying to hold their first practice and trying to explain why you have to run to first, not to third, and no, you can't grab your juice box on the way. I guess that there is crying in baseball.
Tomorrow is the the Opening Day parade ceremony for the Reston Little League. The parade starts at 9:00 at the Pavilion at Reston Town Center. night we celebrated Reston Little League winning a 2012 Best of Reston award and also applauding the 2011 Virginia State Champions. President Frank Lynch did a great job in thanking the many volunteers that make the seasons possible and the team was given a standing ovation.
Tomorrow is the start of the 41st season of Little League Baseball in Reston. Old-timers like me think back to the times of old and tell stories of how we got started.
The Opening Day parade was actually started by mistake. A gentleman named Dick Podol and myself went to Town Center to pick up a sponsor check from Mobil Land. We were in the building across from the Pavilion at Town Center when a receptionist gave us the idea for a small parade, the Town Center was only a block long at the time and she arranged for us to have it the next year. A first.
When you were a new coach, you had to go and see John Pinkman, who had done a series of videos on how to hold a practice, among other things, and you could get the videos for free at the library or the Hollywood Video store. Remember video?
The biggest social event of the year was not the Best of Reston. It was the Reston Baseball Carnival, which was held in the parking lot the Sheraton Reston and where the Westin is today. The carnival wash held for two and a half weeks, and we raised a whopping $25,000 of our efforts. Seventeen nights for $25,000, thanks to all of the parents that volunteered to work the ticket booths and serve Coke and hot dogs. The Carnies were another story altogether, but believe it or not, I still talk with Robert Jolly from Jolly Shows and they are still touring.
Opening Day meant a partnership with RA to plant seedlings (younger kids), and clean up stream beds and valleys (older kids). All 800 kids were involved and Pica Deli provided lunch for everyone, at no charge.
Reston Little League has a history of volunteer participation and working to make Reston a quality place to live, work, and play. Eventually, we even beat Vienna, which is no longer the badge of courage that it once was, but it was how you were measured in those days.
Frank didn't get to mention some of the pioneers that made this all possible because of the short time that he has left to speak and he was the next to the last award. But I offer thanks and congratulations to the many people that have made Reston Baseball something special. All of these people are heroes that you probably never met, but made all of what you do today possible. Here are some of those heroes:
Dick Podol -First Sponsorship Coordinator
Dom Belardo and Ed Hurley who both came back after their kids were long gone. They now have grandshildren playing.
John Pinkman - Mr. Baseball and always working for the kids. John taught us to be more than Dad's with a bag. Now John's sons, who were Little League stars, are coaches again in Reston Little League.
Mike Pobat, a Northern Virginia Little League legend. He started the Challenger Program and ran District 4 after being Reston Little League President for a number of years.
Skeets Meyer and Mike Nicolia who brought an organized and business approach to running a large organization.
Bruce and Carol Hall who live, eat, and sleep baseball today, when they are not coaching or supporting wrestling at South Lakes High School.
Jeff Thomas, a great Little League president that did it the right way.
Jimmy Sprinkle, who became the Best Babe Ruth manager in Northern Virgnia.
Jim Horsefield, our first Treasurer, and original organizer of the Carnival. Jim left us a few years ago, but he rests knowing that it is still in good hands.
Patty Defrancesco, Bob Herring, Leila Gordon, and Robyn Kampf, all Treasurers and keepers of the finances that grew exponentially. In those days, we had to deal with cash a lot.
Long time coaches: Rick Crump, Mark Robinson, George Epp, Bill Hager, Jim Fisher, Bill Smith, Tom Fleeter, Steve Winings, Rich Chiarello, Jim Ghrist, Bill Ramsey, John Schmidt, Larry Kubin, who was the first to win states, and Warren Lemme.
Quartermaster Brian Bennett.
Rick Nance and his family still contribute to Little League.
Paul Foley, a great coach, who came up with the idea of a Bat-A-Thon, and we made $50,000 in one day. That killed the carnival. LOL
Mark and Barbara Solow were the registrars for many many years. Mark also coached and served as the Babe Ruth Commissioner.
Our great volunteer umpires.
These are just some of the heroes.
I have enough stuff still in my garage to start a museum, and we just might have to find a way to get that done. The team pictures going back to the early days would prove to be an embarrassment to a lot of us. Where did that hair come from?
We had a T-Ball reunion a couple of years ago at Christmas. All of the kids had graduated from college, some had families, but it was one of the best holidays ever.
The baseball is good, but the friendships that you will form with your teams and coaches will last a lifetime.
Good luck with your season Reston Little Leaguers. Remember your history and embrace it.