Brundidge youth baseball begins game action

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 19, 2003

LeRoy Bryant has been associated with baseball for over 30 years, but opening day still brings a smile to his face.

Bryant, Associate Director of the Brundidge Department of Recreation, was on hand for the first day of games and, despite the overcast weather, was having a good time. He summed up the new baseball season simply.

"It's all about the kids."

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Young people were everywhere on Saturday, celebrating the day before Easter with the rebirth of a new season of baseball – a renewal and rite of spring when all teams are in first place.

"The kids have been ready for about the last six weeks," Bryant said.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Rammage threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Braves and Indians began their battle to open the year on a winning note. City Council Member Isabel Boyd was also present.

Coach Joseph Suber introduced the players one at a time and each ran out of the gate onto the crisp green grass and lined up by team. Melody Rogers, a Pike County High School student, performed the national anthem and it was then time for the eternal cry of optimism and joy, "Play Ball!"

The coaches were on hand to offer a variety of instructions to their players.

Some coaches of the younger players were answering questions like "Where do we run?" and "What do we do if we get out?" Other coaches of older players strategized how to protest if the other team should accidentally bat out of order.

Derek Scott was taking it all in and enjoying the cool weather. The sixth-grader said he had friends on the Dodgers, though back yard football was more his game.

Learning how to field a ground ball was only part of the day's lessons.

One player on the bench taught another player the classic, "High five, middle five, down low, too slow" trick while others took a moment during the game to examine the grass in the outfield.

Such pursuits are as much a part of the national pastime as calculations and statistics, and for Bryant, who no longer coaches a team, the energy and excitement of the young people are what make each opening day, year after year, worthwhile.

He smiled, referring to a game in which a young man laced a single into the leftfield gap, ran to first, had his hat blow off and turned around in the basepath - ball still in play - to run back to retrieve his cap.

"There's nothing like it," he said.