Jamie McNeely’s eyes light up and there’s a lift in his voice when he talks baseball. No surprise, then, that he was animated Friday afternoon when he described the hoopla he’d designed to celebrate the beginning of the Little League baseball season. “It’s a piece of America, baseball, and we all love it. Everyone played or they’re a fan — Red Sox, Yankees, it doesn’t matter. And a parade to start the season, the kids love it, and every small town had one when I was growing up. Didn’t yours?”
His excitement was warranted, it turned out, when dozens of players and coaches paraded up Circuit Avenue Saturday morning past hundreds of parents, friends, and random spectators. Adding to the fanfare were fire trucks, with horns and sirens blaring, from Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury. Perched on a flat-bed truck provided by Vineyard Gardens, the Vineyard Haven Band, a four-piece brass ensemble, pitched in with loud, proud All-American musical accompaniment.
Bright skies and steadily warming temperatures kept bright smiles fixed on faces young and old as the festivities moved to the Little League field at Veira Park. In advance of three games scheduled that day, the players lined the foul lines and doffed their caps as Sarah Dawson and Emelia Cappelli, eighth-graders at the Oak Bluffs School, sang the national anthem — in harmony, no less.
“Another year,” said Roy Gundersen of Edgartown, father of assistant Cubs coach Kevin, and grandfather of Jacob, 10 (Cubs), Eli, 8 (Orioles), and Ingrid, 5 (Grasshoppers). “It keeps me busy.”
Good feelings ran free. As her son Theo Gallagher warmed up before the first game of the day, Tina Miller of West Tisbury said, “My son’s awesome, and he’s on the Mets.”
And then? Play ball! And there was baseball — blessed sun-baked baseball — all day long.