Baseball Association Opening Day Kicks off 35th Season

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(Contributed Photo)
Deklen Walters, an OBA player from the 2019 Pinto Division, tries on Stomper’s hat while spending time with the Oakland A’s mascot.

    Despite the rainy weather, almost 850 people turned out to celebrate when the Orinda Baseball Association (OBA) hosted its annual Opening Day celebration at Wagner Ranch Elementary March 2, marking its 35th season of youth baseball. The day began with team photographs, food trucks, popcorn, and carnival games, followed by the popular speed pitch competition. 
    This year’s special guest was Stomper, the mascot for the Oakland Athletics. Raffle winner and OBA player Deklen Walters received a one-on-one meeting with Stomper before the spirited elephant surprised the rest of the players gathering for the opening parade. 
    The players and their families then moved into the gymnasium for the day’s ceremony, with 2017 Lamorinda Idol winner Elizabeth Becker singing the National Anthem before the standing-room only crowd.  After welcoming the players and thanking parents, volunteers and sponsors, OBA President Andrew McCraith introduced the association’s 2019 theme “Play Catch,” encouraging parents to take 5-10 minutes each day to play catch with their young sluggers to help develop core baseball skills and create lasting memories.
    During the ceremony, Luke Sagara, Andrew Mahar, Dylan Browning and Trent Larson-Deak were recognized as this year’s winners of the Curtis Bottomley Sportsmanship Award and Christo Butner received the Will Newton Memorial Award recognizing a player who exemplifies a true love of the game over his entire OBA career. The Dave Nolan Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Joe Hollerbach who will be attending Cornell University in the fall. Long-time coach Vance Hillstrom was named Manager of the Year.
    After the OBA Board of Directors and committee members assembled to lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” OBA founder Robert “Bob” Hegarty closed the ceremony by offering some motivational words and throwing out the first pitch. Complete schedules for the 25 teams are available at www.obabaseball.com.

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