It was the last game of Little League Opening Day in Forest Park May 11. In a micro Chicago cross-town rivalry, the two teams playing were the Cubs and White Sox.
Cubs’ pitcher Lucas Dirks had great control, striking out seven. But his catcher, Chris Mistrata, was struck in the left arm with a bat. Coach Mike Christian checked on Mistrata, but he seemed to be OK.
The White Sox jumped out to a 2-0 in the first inning. Julius Kibir-Evans walked, followed by three straight singles by Reggie Loury, Liam Gram and Dylan Bartlett. Julius also pitched well, striking out ten Cubs. His defense helped him when a perfect relay nailed Damien Marquez at the plate. In the third inning, Kibir-Evans singled and Loury and Gram doubled.
The Cubs fought back in the 4th inning. Lucas Dirks doubled and stole third. Jack Doss walked and stole second. Tremont Riley drove in both runners. The comeback continued in the 5th inning.
Mistrata took the bat. He doubled and stole third but was stranded there. In the following innings, he continued to catch the 70 mph pitches of Jack Doss.
The Cubs finally fell 5-2. But that wasn’t the end of the game.
Coach Christian received a call from Mistrata’s mom. He was shocked to hear his catcher’s left forearm was broken and that he needed to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon. Christian marveled at the fact that Mistrata played the entire game, catching, batting and base-running, without complaining of pain in his broken arm. “He will be my new assistant coach when he comes back,” Christian said.
Chilly weather didn’t keep folks away from Forest Park Little League’s Opening Day festivities. Hot dogs and burgers were consumed and it appeared the parents were having as much fun as the kids. Conversation filled the Park with people discussing everything from baseball to the new purchase of the Roos Building
To make things special FP Little League brought in a bounce house, temporary tattoos and games like bag-toss to entertain the kids. When the event began, members of the Rookie Yankees and Phillies were introduced on Field 2. Ryan Russ sang the National Anthem, followed by Park Board President Roy Sansone throwing out the first pitch.
Consolidated Auto Service Center, Inc. donated $500 to pay for the Opening Day celebration. Currie Chevrolet of Forest Park also donated $500 and displayed several cars at the Park. The dealership’s annual donation means that every team has a ball bucket, eye black and t-shirts. Little League raised more funds by selling raffle tickets.
Despite the broken arm of one of his most stoic team members, Christian was proud of how both teams played. “It was a back and forth game. We came from behind but didn’t have enough,” he remarked.