Play ball! Opening Day for Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League (PHOTOS)

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players make their way down Exchange Street in Athol during the Opening Day Parade on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players make their way down Exchange Street in Athol during the Opening Day Parade on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players make their way down Exchange Street in Athol during the Opening Day Parade on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players make their way down Exchange Street in Athol during the Opening Day Parade on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players make their way down Exchange Street in Athol during the Opening Day Parade on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players make their way down Exchange Street in Athol during the Opening Day Parade on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players make their way down Exchange Street in Athol during the Opening Day Parade on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players make their way down to James H. Salvan Field during the Opening Day Parade on Saturday in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League players at the Opening Day Ceremony at James H. Salvan Field in Athol on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Emily White throws out the opening softball pitch at the Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League Opening Day on Saturday in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • Dan Ross throws out the opening baseball pitch at the Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League Opening Day on Saturday in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer
Published: 5/8/2022 4:47:47 PM

ATHOL – With sirens blaring, a large group of youth baseball and softball players made their way to James H. Salevan Field in Athol on Saturday for Opening Day of the Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League. 

The parade began at the Athol YMCA and made its way down Main Street before turning onto Exchange Street where players and coaches traveled before entering the diamond. 

For some players, Saturday’s event was the first Opening Day parade they’ve been a part of. 

“I’ve never marched in a parade,” Owen Bezio, who plays in the coach pitch level, said. “It was noisy. I’m excited to play with my friends and get to hit.”

The excitement of Opening Day was evident, with players happy to be back on the field and playing baseball and softball again. 

The parade didn’t happen last year due to COVID-19, and its return was a welcomed sight for area players.

“It was loud,” Freeland Ringer said. “We didn’t have our jerseys for opening day so it’s nice to have these.”

For the league’s softball players, it’s been a while since they’ve taken the field. There was no softball team a year ago, which made Saturday all the more thrilling. 

“Softball didn’t have a team last year,” Bella Kimball said. “It’s exciting to be back.” 

The opening ceremony took place following the parade, as each team and player was introduced by Master of Ceremonies Tom Doiron before League President Rob Woodard spoke. 

The national anthem was performed and the Little League pledge was recited before League Secretary Emily White threw out the opening pitch for the softball season and Dan Ross, member of the American Legion Riders who helped get the field prepared, tossed out the opening pitch for the baseball season. 

An enthusiastic “play ball” was then shouted by all to close out the ceremony. 

“I liked getting to hear about all the stuff during the ceremony,” Celia Fox said. “I just liked it in general.”

The opening games took place shortly after, something the players said they were most looking forward to.

“I’m excited to play the game,” Ringer said. “It feels like forever we’ve been waiting for the first game. I want to win some games.”

For players like Kimball, getting to try a new position is a thrilling part of the new season. Getting to compete against friends is an added bonus. 

“I’m excited to play catcher for the first time,” Kimball said. “I’m excited to play. I want to beat all my friends on the other team.” 

Players like Fox are hoping to improve and take their game to the next step. 

“I’m trying to do better than I did in the past,” Fox said. “I want to hit it farther than I normally hit it. I want to be better than I was before and have fun.” 

Athol YMCA CEO Jennifer Gordon was in attendance and said she was glad to see the turnout for the first day of games.

Gordon said she likes how baseball and softball develop kids and teach them important lessons. 

“Baseball is an American pastime,” Gordon said. “It does so much for developing skills for the youth, getting leadership, confidence. The Y is about youth development so having it back is great.” 


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