North Fort Myers Babe Ruth league gets started
In the game of baseball, there is not a phrase more endearing than Opening Day. There is a sense of renewal, that everyone has a chance to win and a hope that this year will be the year.
That is likely what was running through the minds of 199 kids and their coaches from the 16 teams as they marched onto the field for the opening of the 2020 season for North Fort Myers Babe Ruth on Saturday at the community park.
The sense of renewal might come from the fact there is a new president in Nate Sund, who coached the league for six years and was on the board for three years before making the progression to the top to replace Jason Estes, whose three years at the helm were very successful.
“We were hoping for 200, but all our teams are full. We’re bursting at the seams and that’s a good thing,” Sund said. “Our biggest division is 8U with five teams, which is awesome.”
There will be two 15U teams, two 12U teams, three 10U teams, and four 6U teams to go along with that. Sund said the individual talent on the teams is getting better because of the talent they insist upon in their coaches.
“Our coaches do an amazing job. Every manager for every team interviewed with a panel, and the teams have been practicing for several weeks. It’s really going great,” Sund said. “The talent has progressed from year to year.”
Opening Day featured the parade of teams, the ceremonial first pitches and a speech from Henry Bonilla, reminding the kids that advancing beyond the smaller fields depends on their grades.
The kids took the field for some exhibition games, and members of the Minnesota Twins came around to sign autographs for the young athletes, making up for the fact their clinic on Feb. 1 was rained out and cancelled.
Coaches and their kids were totally pumped to get the season started. Tony Greene, an assistant coach for the 10U Marlins, said he thought his team would do well.
“We have a good team with decent pitchers and catchers and a lot of great hitters,” Greene said. “Every year, since T-Ball, the talent has gotten better.”
His son, Kiptyn, was also confident.
“Opening Day was pretty good and I think we’ll do pretty good,” Kiptyn said, who pitches and plays middle infield. “It’s fun to play there and I really enjoy it.”
Games will be played Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with a big Spring Fling tournament in April, which last year brought 55 teams from throughout the region.
North Fort Myers has also hosted the Babe Ruth District tournament every year. It’s centralized location should make it the perfect spot this year as well.