Opening Day for Forest Park Little League is this Saturday, April 23rd, at 10 a.m. We’re so busy getting ready for the season””Hey guys, find a partner and play catch””that we can’t even take time off from practice to tell you about the big day.

Anyway””No pop-ups or grounders, guys, we want chest-high throws””there’s going be coffee and Krispy Kremes in the morning, courtesy of the 8th Grade Dance Committee.

The money raised will be used for this year’s dance, which has a top-secret theme. The coffee should come in handy, because the weather tends to be a bit crisp on Opening Day. Later on in the day there’s going to be a barbecue.

“Bring it in boys. O.K. Coach Johnson is going to pitch batting practice, Jeremy you hit first.” So, anyway, there’s going be a color guard and Mayor Calderone will be there but the big news””Ahh! Oh man, that hurt. Nice rip Jeremy. No, I’ll be O.K. That’s why we have a first-aid kit, in case coach needs an ice pack.”

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, outgoing Park District Commissioner Mike Espinosa is going to throw out the first pitch. Mike is honored to show off his fastball and make a few remarks to the crowd.

 “All right, Jeremy’s running on this one. C’mon guys, hands on your knees in your ready positions. Hey, nice pick Demetrius. Way to back up the play, Ben. You guy’s are learning.” Talk about a crowd. Little League has over 270 kids signed up this year. That’s a great turnout for a town our size.

A lot of towns are losing Little Leaguers but our program keeps growing.

Let’s see, after the speeches and the color guard, we’ll have T-Ball games first. T-Ball is the lifeblood of Little League and we have a sensible approach here in Forest Park”the games can’t last more than an hour. “What? You need water? Who else needs water? O.K. everyone take a break.”

“That’s enough, boys”no spitting. All right, Darryl’s up next? Darryl, you’re never going to hit the ball if you keep bailing out toward third base. Boys, I know we’re afraid of getting hit by a pitch but we have to step toward the pitcher. That’s the only”no Darryl, not a big step, just a small one.”

So, the ceremony starts at 10 a.m. and after T-Ball, there will be softball games for the girls and the Major and Minor League Boys will play later in the afternoon. “O.K. time for outfield practice. Chuck, where’s your mitt? Tell your mother you need your mitt, even if we’re having batting practice. Here, use mine.”

Oh, I almost forgot Little League President Dan O’Connor is going to say a few words.

Dan’s been president for six years, which is remarkable considering how demanding the job is. River Forest Little League doesn’t let their presidents serve more than two years, because of burnout.

“All right, everybody in. Hold the balls! We’re looking better, guys. Remember, we’re here to learn baseball and have fun. What’s that? Tell your mom you need black baseball pants. O.K. see you boys at the Park at 10 a.m.”

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.