After two years without an opening-day ceremony because of the pandemic, the Arlington Little League event returned in grand fashion this year with a lively two-hour celebration at Barcroft Park.
The Sunday, April 3 afternoon event included a parade to the main field that included many teams of various age groups. There were opening-day first pitches. and a couple of fun games played by Little Leaguers that included a hula-hoop contest and a mini-cycle race.
There was a recognition of two new league hall-of-fame members, there was a moon bounce, a number of actual games were played following the ceremony, there was a T-shirt toss, food trucks were busy, a handful of local politicians were on hand along with Screech, the Washington Nationals’ tall and colorful mascot.
Screech mingled with the players and other guests and participated in the hula-hoop contests.
Discounted tickets to Nationals games were sold and there were booths to signup for various travel baseball teams or to purchase merchandise.
Members of the Wakefield, Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high school baseball teams attended and formed a human tunnel to greet the Little Leaguers as they walked through to enter the main field.
With Screech by his side, league president Adam Balutis welcomed everyone back to the fields.
“It’s so nice to be back after two years. We are going 1,200 strong,” Balutis said regarding the league’s number of players.
The special guest was former Major League player Brandon Guyer, who was a standout baseball and football player at Herndon High School in Northern Virginia.
In his comments to the players, Guyer told them how their Little League experience will be some of the most fun days they will have playing the game. Guyer played baseball for Reston Little League.
“Don’t have a fixed mindset,” Guyer told the players. “Run toward challenges. The better you are off the field, the better you will be on the field and you will be prepared to handle those life challenges. Have fun playing this great game.”
The Little League pledge was read by players Lily Nix of the Phillies and Landon Scott of the Cubs.
The mini-cyle race around the bases was won by the team of Thomas Neyman from the Padres and George Boyle of the Cubs.
The league’s two new Hall of Famers introduced were David Scalzitti and John Michalowski. Each threw opening first pitches, along with Guyer, who signed many autographs and took photos with players following the ceremony. All three threw strikes.