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Little League/Girls Softball Parade Kicks Off Baseball Season

Mar 09, 2015 05:22PM ● By Dig Mb Staff

Members of the Green Hornets dmeonstrate their spirit during the Opening Day Parade for MBLL and MBGS on March 7, 2015.

Youngsters, their family and friends turned out Saturday for Manhattan Beach Little League and Girls Softball's Opening Day Parade, an annual event in Manhattan Beach.
MBLL President David Henschel (who is also president of Manhattan Beach Youth Athletics, the overarching body of the baseball/softball leagues) addresses the crowd as city officials, staff and other dignitaries stand by.

The Mira Costa High School Marching Band led the parade, following on the wheels of Manhattan Beach Police Department's Andy Harrod, on motorcycle, who made sure all was well before the parade made its way through downtown Manhattan Beach to American Martyrs School for the first official pitch of the season.

As kids dressed in baseball/softball uniforms walked the oceanside streets of downtown MB, some holding hands with teammates or their parents, fans of all ages gathered on city sidewalks to watch the procession.

Two French tourists, who happened upon the marchers, loved the spirited parade and the hometown feel it represented.
The parade brings together much of the best of Manhattan Beach. Even dogs participate in the parade.

More than 1,300 kids ages 5-12 participate in the leagues, according to Dennis Kane, MBLL communications and information officer and MBLL co-commissioner of the 50/70 Division, noting that in its first year in 1958, MBLL's roster showed 242 boys playing on 14 teams--4 major league teams and 10 minor league teams. 

"MBLL has always had an opening day parade since the first opening day," according to Andrew Hunter, MBLL co-player agent. "The city mayor, Foster Dean, threw out the first pitch in 1958 after the boys in uniform marched up 15th Street to AMS field from downtown."

The 57-year-old tradition was full of excitement on Saturday. Harrod, who was honored for his 40 years of service with the Manhattan Beach Police Department, whizzed around on his motorcycle, as the band marched behind him, followed by a fire truck with Manhattan Beach Fire fighters on board, and vintage cars with city officials and baseball brass.

Matt Simkins, a Manhattan Beach Fire Department firefighter whose family roots go back to 1918 when his great grandparents settled in Manhattan Beach, drives the MBFD truck in the parade.

 The teams followed, some chanting cheers for their teams, their arms pumping the air (as much as a young kids' arm can), others threw candy to the sidelines and marchers behind them. Parents and coaches walked with the kids, some holding hands with their kids in a display of family fun.

Once at the playground and ball fields of American Martyrs School, participants gathered on the field to hear speeches. MBLL President David Henschel (who is also president of Manhattan Beach Youth Athletics, the overarching body of the baseball/softball leagues) recognized the league's 2014 MB Juniors All-Star team, which reached the final U.S. game of the World Series in Taylor, Michigan last summer.

The choir from Manhattan Beach MIddle School sang the Star Spangled Banner. City officials in attendance included Mayor Wayne Powell, Mayor Pro Tem Mark Burton, council members David Lesser and Tony D'Errico, and Assembly member David Hadley, a Manhattan Beach resident.

The festivities also included honoring the memory of 1991 MBLL President Michael Fucci, whose granddaughter Kate Scherlacher, a 7-year-old MBGS player, threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the season to Matt Cassell, former USC and current Buffalo Bills quarterback. Cassell is an MB resident and was part of a 1994 Little League team from Northridge that was the top U.S. finisher at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.

"By our 50th anniversary in 2008, MBLL was the largest Little League in the US with over 1,700 boys and girls playing baseball and softball in our league" said Hunter. "In 2009, the softball division left Little League and affiliated with the American Softball Association (ASA). Manhattan Beach Youth Athletics (MBYA) now runs MBLL and Manhattan Beach Girls Softball (MBGS) with over 1,300 players. 

See more photos from Opening Day here: Photos of Manhattan Beach Little League/Girls Softball Opening Day 2015.

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