The Port Townsend Little League’s opening day jamboree March 23 offered an opportunity to reflect on the progress the Little League has made over the years, as the Port Townsend American Legion put the new flagpole over the play fields at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds to good use.
The American Legion Post 26 Honor Guard enlisted the aid of a couple of members of the PTLL Junior Red Hawks team in raising the American flag at the start of the ceremony, so that PTLL Board member Heather Dudley-Nollette, who serves as the league information officer, could sing the national anthem.
Following the flag-raising, Joseph Bednarik, who serves as the Pulpit Assistant at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend, not only delivered the invocation, but also extolled the virtues of baseball itself as a former little league player.
Bednarik credited his two coaches with teaching him the importance of having fun while practicing, “because that way, you’ll always want to practice, and the more you practice, the more you’ll continue to get better.”
Bednarik also recalled the first year girls were allowed to play little league baseball in 1974, and his own team gained a young woman as a player, whom he recalled as “a fine infielder” with whom he made a number of double-plays.
“She was subjected to some unsportsmanlike teasing, but she never cracked,” Bednarik said. “By the end of the season, she’d earned everyone’s respect as a player.”
Bednarik praised such pioneers who, by “playing the games they love, make our world a bit more welcoming to others.”
The ceremony concluded in time for the day’s informal games to start when Alice Taylor, player on the PTLL Tee Ball Mariners, tossed out the first pitch.
Although Dudley-Nollette still feels relatively new to Port Townsend Little League as she enters her third year on the board, she credited her fellow board members with keeping the little league’s focus on the kids themselves during that time.
“We’ve taken baby steps toward improving the league with each year,” Dudley-Nollette said. “This is the first season I think we’ve started to see the fruits of that labor, with a fully staffed board, a great bunch of sponsors, a new flagpole and all these kids, engaged and ready to play.”
PTLL Board President Rachel Brannigan praised the dedication of the little league’s volunteers, coaches and players alike.
“The kids who want to play are out here, doing what they need to do,” Brannigan said. “And we only have two new coaches this year, both in Tee Ball, so they’ve been growing with these players.”
Dudley-Nollette agreed the league’s commitment and skills have continued to grow.
“Because these coaches have stuck around, year to year, they’ve really built their expertise up, to the ultimate benefit of the kids,” Dudley Nollette said.
Home and away games will begin in April and continue into May, and possibly even early June.
Picture Day is slated from 11 a.m. April 14 at the Blue Heron Middle School Gymnasium, and Little League Day at the Mariners’ game will start at 1 p.m. April 26 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
For updates, visit ptll.org or “ptllorg” on Facebook.