Baseball season for Capital City Little League in Chevy Chase D.C. kicked off on Saturday, and the event featured a short parade and a first pitch from Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The procession from Connecticut to Western avenues kicked off the season for the oldest little league in the District – a tradition that’s new again thanks to the pandemic.
“We had no opening day last year, so I think a lot of people are coming out to enjoy the day,” one father said. “Baseball and softball in many ways hold the community together, you can go to common sporting events. It’s really an exciting time.”
Just like their big league counterparts, the players enjoy the trappings of the sporting life.
“I never get to see everybody in little league, so [today] I get to see all my friends and everybody in little league,” the young Liam Novcheck said.
Opening day on the diamond at the Chevy Chase Recreation Center was full of that excitement as the mayor pitched to cheers.
But before the end of the ceremony, the mayor was hit with something of a curveball. Questions came up concerning Woodrow Wilson Senior High School’s batting cage, which was removed from the grounds of Fort Reno earlier this week. Players and parents say the removal came without notice.
“It’s just all torn down, like they cut our poles… they made it so that we can’t even put it back up. They took down our net. We paid for all of this,” one student said. She told the mayor, “We never got any type of explanation about it. We never got a warning.”
“Well, I think the explanation is that it was out of compliance for the [National Park Service’s] rules,” Bowser responded. “I don’t know what went into taking it down but I know we’ll figure out how to make it right.”
Parents from the high school said it’s a safety issue, and Tigers athletes said it’s putting them at a disadvantage.
“We had a game against one of the top private schools in the area on Thursday,” another student said. “We showed up to the field looking to get some work in and hit before the game. We were able to get none in.”
The issue involves both the National Park Service and the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.
Meanwhile, as the little league season starts, they’ve got their own challenges to work on: They’re in need of umpires.
“The umpire association we’ve been using for years says we cant do your games this season, so the league was left scrambling,” one parent explained.
Volunteers, parents and teens who’ve aged out of little league, stepped up to the plate, ensuring that the games will go on.