Little Leagues Gearing Up for Opening Day

Little League Opening Day is rapidly approaching and that means the volunteers who make it all happen are in full battle mode, working on fields, cleaning up the clubhouses and seeing to all the details that make for a smooth start to the season.

Lynn Shore Little League will lead the pack with its opening scheduled for Saturday, April 18. Pine Hill Little League is shooting for the following Saturday, April 25, as are West Lynn Little League and East Lynn Little League. Wyoma Little League won’t hold its parade until Saturday, May 2, but the Major League baseball and softball teams will start playing games April 23 and April 27, respectively. The East Lynn/Pine Hill/West Lynn combine softball program will hold its own Opening Day ceremony on May 2 at the Alice O’Neil Field next to Volunteer Field.

Although the fields may have been buried under several feet of snow most of the winter, there was plenty happening behind the scenes. Wyoma Little League, led by president Tony Luciano, has been busy preparing for the Massachusetts State Little League Tournament being held at Charlie Reinfuss Field this summer.

Wyoma has made improvements to its concession stand with a new refrigerator and grill and they did a room over upstairs in the clubhouse for the umpires. The league has also made improvements to the press box area and will install a railing on the roof of the third base dugout where scorers and league officials often sit.

Wyoma’s parade will start at Sisson Elementary School at 8:30 a.m.

Lynn Shore President David Dorgan and fellow board members and volunteers have plenty going on at the field this summer. The league is working on funding to build a press box behind the backstop and there are plans to fence in the minor league field at Kiley Park. A fence along the perimeter of Kiley Park was knocked down by a snow plow and needs to be replaced, although that is a city project. There are also plans to build a batting cage for the Minor League field. Kiley Park is also slated to become home to the city’s newest splash pad this summer with funding coming through a grant to the city.

Lynn Shore had some assistance getting the field ready for Opening Day when prisoners from the Sheriff’s Department came down and shoveled the field. Dorgan said the group from the Sheriff’s Department may also get involved in building the press box with local roofer Bill Trahant donating some equipment and help. North Shore Medical Center has also made a generous donation to the project, Dorgan said, but additional funds are still needed. Lynn Shore is serving as host to the City Series this year for the first time in about 25 years.

Lynn Shore’s parade will start at 9 a.m.

Pine Hill president Jill Avery said her league did a lot of work to the fields and clubhouse last year, so not much is needed this year. There will, however, be some work done to the base paths to reduce the lip. The league just took down an outdoor skating rink it had built adjacent to the Major League field.

“The skating rink was so much fun,” Avery said. “Everyone came out and enjoyed it. We’ll do it again. Pine Hill is such a close knit community.”

Pine Hill’s Opening Day festivities will feature the announcement of two award winners, one presented in  honor of the late Chris Spagnoli and the other in honor of the late Ryan Andrews.

West Lynn Little League president Craig Whitcomb said his league’s parade will leave Barry Park around 10:30 a.m. with the ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. at Walter Flynn Field. It’s also picture day and there will be a field day of sorts, with some of games and a cookout.

Whitcomb said board members and volunteers have been hard at work cleaning up both fields. The field at Barry Park (the old West Lynn National field), has gotten a lot of attention. The Minor League programs use the Barry Park facility.

East Lynn president Julio Polonia said his parade will start in front of English High at 8:30 and make its way to Volunteer Field for the ceremony. He expects the field to be ready in time for an April 25 opening day.

East Lynn will have four Major League baseball teams. During May they’ll do interleague play with Wyoma, Pine Hill, West Lynn, Lynn Shore and Swampscott.

Like pretty much every league this year, East Lynn’s numbers are down a bit. Polonia said he’s expects to have about 250 factoring in late arrivals. Last  year he had 270.

Several league presidents said registration started off really slow this year, something they attribute to the snow. Several report that things picked up once the weather improved.

“No one’s thinking about baseball when there’s snow on the ground,” Luciano said.

All the leagues are dealing with Little League’s new age determination guidelines that pertain to baseball. Although the current 10s, 11s and 12s aren’t affected, players in the lower age groups will be.

Greater Lynn Babe Ruth is scheduled to open April 25, but the date in contigent upon the fields being ready.

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