On Opening Day this Weekend, First Pitch will Cross Generations
For the 60th anniversary of the league, a grandson will throw the first pitch to his grandfather and member of the first ever Portsmouth Little League team in 1954.
The first pitch will be thrown by Ryan Clarke and waiting for it across the diamond will be Walter Chase, his grandfather.
For a league undergoing substantial changes, with a new president this year and new ideas at play, it makes sense for one generation to toss the first pitch to another, especially since Walter Chase was on the first Portsmouth Little League team in 1954.
In March, we posted a preview of the season which will feature new uniforms in addition to a new president in Todd Lacy.
For starters, they'll consider making the teams smaller, giving each player more time on the field. Last year, there were four teams each in the majors and minors, with about 13 or 14 players per team. That could be "one too many," Lacy said, suggesting an extra team with fewer players on all.
Coaches will be encouraged to be "coaching better," and you won't see many instances of a coach throwing batting practice with kids fidgeting restlessly in the outfield. Instead, they'll develop methods to make practices station-based, with players staying active during the entire practice.
They're thinking about bringing in the outfield for T-ballers, and maybe having less kids on each team so they're all moving and "in the middle of the game," Lacy said.
And other efforts will be made to seize the enthusiasm within the youngest players and nurture it with the goal of keeping their interest as they progress into the minors, and later the majors.
"What we're trying to do is get kids to stay in it and keep it interesting," Lacy said.
Along with the 60th anniversary for the league as a whole, the league is celebrating 20 years of softball in Portsmouth and 40 for softball nationwide, 25 years for the Little League Challenger Division and nationally, it's the 75th anniversary of Little League Baseball in America.
Last year, Portsmouth Little League organized the East Bay Fall Ball League consisting of nine towns and 17 teams. It was a 12-game, 12-week program, Lacy said.
The league is also looking at a concept that would give sponsors an opportunity to adopt buildings around their parks.