Heritage Harbour youth baseball players celebrate the start of the season.
It was a logical question for the opening day of Manatee Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth Baseball at Heritage Harbour on Feb. 18.
One of the Mariners' Coach Pitch players, who are 5 and 6 years old, was told to go to shortstop by his coach.
"Where is that?" he said.
The coach jogged out to his position with him.
Indeed, opening day was all about encouragement and learning. "We've been practicing for three weeks and the players are excited," said Steve Marrero, the league president. "There absolutely has been a lot of buildup for this."
Players ages 3 through 13 took the field, with the younger players in Coach Pitch and T-Ball divisions starting the day's action early.
"They are learning how to be a good teammate and about sportsmanship," Marrero said about the league's youngest players who might struggle with the skills needed. "This teaches them responsibility."
Marrero said the more than 100 volunteers who coach the players, serve on the board and help with the fields make it all possible. "We couldn't do it without them," he said.
Denise West, the chairwoman of the league's special events and fundraising committee, said an opening day drive to get donations for the Food Bank of Manatee County shows the kids they can make a difference in their community.
She also said she was excited for opening day. "Oh my goodness," West said. "This is amazing. I love to watch these kids smile. And we have such an amazing baseball family here."
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