Little Leaguers open season
The Villa Augustina team leads the Goffstown Junior Baseball Opening Day parade into the Villa fields. (David Suitor Photo)
When baseball fans think of opening day they think of iconic Fenway Park, giant flags draping the Green Monster, and chants of “Oh, oh, oh!” to Sweet Caroline. But Goffstown has its own opening day tradition.
Hundreds of youngsters and family members kicked off the junior baseball season with a parade through town to their home fields at Villa Augustina.
They assemble early, about 7:30 a.m., at Maple Avenue Elementary. At 8 a.m. sharp, they head down Elm, to Main and down Mast Road. There are just a few onlookers but the blaring sirens of the police cruiser and fire engine that leads the parade lets everyone know the parade is in progress.
This is the 54th year of Goffstown Junior Baseball, which includes several age and skill levels, along with the Little League team that represented Goffstown at the World Series in 2012.
The game and the teams are a big part of the community’s identity.
“Goffstown takes pride in its baseball. It’s a baseball community,” said Jim Hujsak, president of Goffstown Junior Baseball. “Ask any communities around and they say Goffstown does a great job.”
Ann Redman, whose son plays on a minor league team enjoys the event.
“It’s a big parade and the kids enjoy the walk” said Redman. “It gives them the chance to say hello to the town.”
Chris Nadeau’s son plays for the Mast Road Lumber team. For him, the parade marks the start of spring. It’s also a chance to see his boy play in Little League, just as he did.
“At tournament time, it’s all people talk about,” said Nadeau about the end of the season when the Goffstown team competes for a chance to go on to post-season play.
It’s about a 2-mile walk from Maple Avenue School to the fields at Villa Augustina. Once they arrive, the teams assemble along the base paths decked out in their colorful uniforms. Friends and family are right behind them.
Jim Hujsak welcomes everyone to the opening ceremonies. It begins with acknowledgements and thanks to those who make the league possible.
Hujsak then introduces other officers of the Goffstown Junior Baseball. The American flag is raised in center field while young Alicia Edgar sings the national anthem.
A finicky wireless microphone starts to cut in and out during the anthem but everyone begins to sing along, helping Alicia finish.
The mothers of two 12-year-old players who will be too old to play next year throw simultaneous first pitches to their sons.
At last, two of the youngest players step to the microphone to deliver the Little League pledge.
“I trust in God, I love my country, and will respect its laws. I will play fair, and strive to win, but win or lose, I will always do my best.”
With that, a hardy “Play ball!” was exclaimed. And they did for the rest of the day.
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