Little League opening day hits a home run

Spirits were high for start-of-season celebration.


The 2019 Martha’s Vineyard Little League parade and opening-day festivities drew hundreds of players, family members, and baseball-loving friends to Oak Bluffs for a start-of-the-season celebration.

The parade stepped away from the Oak Bluffs Police Department at 9 am, and proceeded to Viera Park, where folks piled into their cars and drove to Penn Field to start a day filled with baseball.

The opening day was a colorful and lively display of Major League teams, AAA minors, AA minors, and T-ball teams coming together to enjoy the sport and have fun.

Players weren’t the only ones wearing baseball gloves and team hats, as many friends and relatives played catch and embraced the sunny but blustery Saturday.

Gary Buckley played catch with his 7-year-old daughter Hannah, who played two years of T-ball, and is starting her second year in the minors.

Buckley said he enjoys giving Hannah the opportunity to have fun with other kids and learn good teamwork. “She really loves the sport, she’s really into it,” Buckley said.

Over on the main field fence, players sat and chatted with their teams and posed for group pictures.

Red Sox shortstop and pitcher sixth grader Volkert Kleeman has been playing baseball for seven years. He said he enjoys hanging out with his friends and having fun on the field, but also likes the competitive nature of the sport whenever he steps on the mound.

“Pitching can be stressful, but after a while you really learn how to calm yourself down and it becomes second nature. You know what to expect because you have done it lots of times, so you just have to be ready,” Volkert said.

Another Red Sox player, sixth grader Avery Mulvey, said she enjoys the rush that she feels when she is up at bat or running to home plate. “I really like the thrill of the sport. It’s so much fun, and I’m excited for the season,” Avery said.

Pirates player sixth grader Cayden Bresett said he likes working together with his team to take home the win.

Cayden’s teammate, shortstop Gerry Kane, chimed in to say, “Wwe like winning against teams that like to brag a lot.”

Pirates Assistant Coach Paul Cardoza said he has been coaching for at least 15 years, and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He coached his 22-year-old son Jacob for his entire baseball career. “The energy and team spirit these kids provide is incredible. The comradery that I see out on those fields is so impressive, and you can tell everyone just wants to have fun,” Cardoza said.

After all the players had warmed up their throwing arms, MV Little League secretary Jeff Zack announced each team individually. After the teams were called, players formed an orderly line along the first and third baselines.

Zack then thanked all the players, coaches, and family members who make the MV Little League season a smash hit every year.

“We have 246 players this year; that is incredible,” Zack said. “This can’t be done without a whole lot of folks that donate a lot of their time to make this happen every year.”

After the ceremonial first pitch was thrown, teams scattered to different fields across the Island and prepared to “play ball!”