By: Samantha Apraham
Opening Day for Forest Park Little League couldn’t have gone better. From the 75 degree sunshine, to the home run balls flying over the fence, to the players enjoying free food and ice cream. Little League President Nic Novak kicked things off, with a speech thanking the league’s many sponsors. This included Currie Motors, who showed off their new Chevys. Novak also gave a nod to all the elected officials on hand.
Mayor Calderone thanked the many volunteers, like those who worked the grill from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM serving up burgers and hot dogs. The cooks included Bob and Patti Marino, Tamika Pettiford and Mishawn O’Neal. Calderone spoke of what a great day it was, before tossing the first pitch. At 11:30, four T-Ball teams squared off on two of the diamonds, while the Rookies played their first game.
They were followed by the Minor Mohr Oil Maroons facing Hillside. The Maroon’s coach, Ryan Russ, had already sang a stirring version of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Though his team lost to Hillside, Russ made the game a learning experience for his young players.
The final game featured Forest Park’s two Major teams, to ensure that every player in the league had a chance to take the field on Opening Day. However, the highlight of the day was the Inaugural Brown Cow Ice Cream Home Run Derby.
The contest didn’t just feature free ice cream, Concordia College had donated their white outfield fence to the Park. Normal Little League home run distance is 200 feet but Novak had the fence brought in twenty feet to create more opportunities.
His son, Nic, Jr., certainly took advantage, belting nine home runs in the first round. However, the winner was Sam Marino, who clouted eight homers in the first round and six in the second round. These round trippers were served up by Coach Marcus O’Neal, who threw an astounding 525 pitches.
The outfield was patrolled by the 7-10 year-old boys shagging flies. Max Russ led the way with thirteen catches. Each time a player caught a fly ball, they were rewarded with free ice cream. So, Russ had enough to cause a headache.
Hitters also received free ice cream for each home run but ultimately everyone got their ice cream on. During the derby, Novak practiced his home run call, as the shots flew over the fence. With the league off to such a rousing start, Novak hopes the good times and good weather will continue.
By: Samantha Apraham