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First pitch begins season

More than four thousand parents, children and Troy baseball fans gathered Friday night at the Sportsplex to celebrate the start of another year of recreational baseball.

This year marked the start of a new tradition for the recreation leagues, an opening night. In the past, the ceremonies have begun Saturday morning before games started Saturday afternoon.

"I think it's great. There will not be as much confusion on the first day of games now and those parents who have to work on Saturdays are able to attend now too," Angela Johnson, mother of the Phillies' Andrew Johnson, said.

City officials were pleased with the change this year as well.

"It exceeded all of our expectations. The weather was a little chilly but we can't do anything about that. I think everyone dressed appropriately though," Dan Smith, Director of Parks and Recreation, said.

This year's attendance was also the largest crowd the opening ceremonies have seen.

"This is the best opening ceremony we've ever had. I don't know if you can get much bigger," Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said.

Because of the large crowd, Mayor Lunsford said the City may look at changing some more things for next year too, including the venue, telling onlookers that the city may even consider moving the event to Movie Gallery Stadium for next year's celebration.

Despite the large crowd, police officers and other volunteers were on hand to direct traffic and both Smith and Lunsford were very pleased with the success of the evening.

"It's really just an evening for the kids. We always want to lift up the children and youth of Troy and make them feel good and give them quality things to participate in," Smith said.

In addition to the recognition of all the youth participating on the 65 teams this year, the city took time out to recognize those who make the recreation teams possible. City council members and state recreation league officials were on hand to congratulate all of this year's participants.

Scotty Sauers was also present to join in the celebration, challenging the crowd to remember to "take care of the youth."

The national anthem was sung by Shelia Jackson to celebrate the close of the ceremonies, which ended in a surprise finale of fireworks.

Participants, parents and planners alike were pleased with the changes made this year and both Smith and Lunsford said they look forward to the continued improvement of the opening ceremonies in the future.