by Paula M. Riley
In sunny 65 degrees weather, with immaculate baseball fields, with 300+ kids in new uniforms, free pretzels, free water ice and a visit from Philly’s beloved mascot, the Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club (CHYSC) Baseball Opening Day 2014 was a success.
Boys and girls from Chestnut Hill and surrounding communities were full of energy and excitement as they proudly wore their bright-colored uniform shirts proclaiming team names of “Sidewinders,” “Muckdogs,” “Aeros” and “Red Barons.” The Water Tower fields were a rainbow of team colors on Saturday, April 19.
Opening Day activities included players getting team assignments and uniforms, meeting their teammates and taking that first exciting run around the bases. Joe Pie, CHYSC Junior Baseball Commissioner, was master of ceremonies and began by thanking many volunteers who assisted with the preparations needed to start the season.
After the long and challenging winter, Pie said his greatest challenge was getting the Water Tower Recreation Center fields prepared. On the last four Saturdays, parents and players came to the Water Tower to clear debris, rake and bag leaves, and remove many fallen branches and limbs. By Opening Day, the fields were in amazing shape. Known as one of the area’s best set of baseball fields, the Water Tower hosts two baseball fields: one for Minor League (9-10yr) and the other for Major League (11-12yr).
Other individuals thanked by Pie included Ken Flaxman and other members of his recently formed Baseball Committee, which assists Pie in managing the season. Each CHYSC division has its own commissioner as well. These individuals are Tim Howard, tee ball (5-6 year olds); John McTigue, Rookie (7-8 year olds); Sam Davey, Minors; and Brien Tilley, Majors.
“Chestnut Hill baseball wouldn’t happen without these great volunteers,” Pie said.
Each team was announced, and soon all the players were standing proudly on the baselines when the crowd erupted in applause as the Philly Phanatic came running on the field. The mascot greeted the players and threw out the first pitch of the season to Rookie player Aimon Chandler.
Later in the day, tee ball and Rookie games were held on the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy fields where they will be played all season. These games are held behind the Middle School on the Cherokee campus on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. On Saturday, Minors and Majors played scrimmages on the Water Tower fields where all their games will take place Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
The SkyChiefs took on the Red Barons and the Sidewinders faced the Bisons in Minor League play. Major League games included Braves v. Cardinals and Dodgers against the Phillies.
In addition to this Intramural league, there is a Junior (9-12 years old) travel team that plays on Montco Travel. Pie describes these players as “ambassadors of Chestnut Hill Baseball” to the surrounding communities. Travel is a more competitive league open to players in Chestnut Hill and surrounding communities to compete for spots. At times during the season, travel roster spots may become available for new players – check website for updates.
All Junior Travel teams also play at the Water Tower and on Opening Day, the travel teams had two afternoon games: Chestnut Hill Travel 12s against Somerton and Chestnut Hill Travel 11s versus FoxRok.
“Baseball started early and stayed late – until sundown – with the snack bar open throughout,” Pie said.
As it will be all season, the Water Tower Snack Bar was open on Opening Day. Snack Bar Managers: Samantha Erickson, Courtney Malley and Eileen Remus have worked hard to fill the snack bar with drinks, candy, hot dogs, ice cream and more. On Opening Day, John Thain, owner of many local Rita’s Water Ice locations, provided free water ice and coupons to players, siblings and friends. Everyone is welcome to come out to the Chestnut Hill ‘ballpark’ to enjoy a hot dog and some great baseball.
“This entire day was a fantastic display of ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’” said Janine Mazzarelli, mother of four CHYSC ballplayers. “I am so proud to be part of such a great community of people. Whether your kids play or not, everyone in Chestnut Hill should come out and watch a game this season.”
A final appreciation is extended to the generous local sponsors who have been supporting CHYSC baseball for years. These include Chestnut Hill Sports, McNally’s Tavern, Chestnut Hill CHOP Pediatric Group, Filippi Brothers, Valley Green Bank, Carman’s Shoe Repair, CHOP Care Chestnut Hill, Walter A. Dwyer, Inc., ESF Summer Camps, Javelin Design and more.
All CHYSC leagues game schedules can be found on www.CHYSC.org website under “Schedules.”