The Boys of Summer don’t exist only in Roger Kahn’s rousing, poignant book about his childhood life in Brooklyn where he became one of the Dodger baseball team’s most ardent fans.
Payson has its own version in the 250 youngsters, ages 5 to 12, who turned out April 21 to begin the 2012 spring and summer Little League baseball and softball seasons.
On the day, 20 teams took to the Rumsey Park fields to tip-off their quests for team championships and perhaps berths in the postseason area, district and state all-star tournaments.
“Opening day went great,” said first year Little League President Keeley Parker. “We had a handful of parents, grandparents and board members who really stepped up and helped make the day happen.
“I hope these volunteers as well as the coaches know how much we appreciate what they do for the teams and the league.”
A series of 10 games began at 8:15 and continued until about 8:30 p.m. taking only a midday break for opening ceremonies in which former Justice of the Peace and Gila County law enforcement officer Ronnie McDaniel threw out the first pitch. McDaniel was one of the founders of Payson Little League when it was organized more than two decades ago.
In addition to baseball games, the day was highlighted by team photos, silent auctions, a bounce house and food sales.
The day also marked the beginning of the Little Leaguers’ quest to sell tickets to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ June 10 game vs. the A’s — a game designated for Payson Little League. Teams will attend in uniform and be introduced on Diamondbacks’ field.
Payson Little League will get a percentage of the tickets sold by area team members, Parker said.
Payson’s 20 teams for 2012 include five baseball minors teams, with members usually from age 8 to 11; four baseball majors teams, members are generally from 10 to 12; three softball minors teams; two softball majors teams; and six coach-pitch teams, with members ages 5 to 7.
A player’s placement on a given team is determined through the league’s draft and tryouts, which were held earlier in the year.
Parker stresses Little League officers are extremely appreciative of their support, “We have had a lot of great businesses this year that have sponsored teams and hung banners in support of Little League.”