Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League
The 2023 Spring Season is well under way at Thurmont Little League (TLL). Our five TLL Majors baseball teams kicked off their season by participating in the annual Garel Hauver Memorial Tournament, hosted by Brunswick Little League, on March 25 and 26. Despite heavy rains canceling many of the first day’s games, the weather held off for each team to get in two games over the course of the weekend. This is always a good way to begin the season and get the younger players their first taste of Majors-level competition.
After months of planning, opening day arrived on Saturday, April 1. Unfortunately, soggy weather, once again, forced the cancellation of our morning games and several activities; however, the sun came out eventually and made for a beautiful afternoon to celebrate and play ball. The complex quickly filled up, and everyone began to enjoy a day full of festivities and fun.
President Robbie Nash kicked off the league’s season by, once again, expressing how thankful he was for the tremendous outpouring of support the league receives on a yearly basis. At 11:00 a.m., players from the T-ball and Instructional divisions were introduced, along with their coaches and team moms. The second round of introductions was held at 3:00 p.m. for the Minor, Majors, and Softball programs.
Once again this year, the league held a memorial service for another TLL family member who is no longer with us. Jeff Koenig, who served as a coach for his three sons over the course of many years, passed away in June of 2022 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Jeff was a tremendous baseball talent who starred locally at Mount St. Mary’s University, where he was inducted into their Athletic Hall of Fame. Up until the time of his passing, Jeff had been serving as an assistant coach for the Majors Orioles. He could be found sitting on a bucket in the dugout, chirping at the umpires right up until the very end. TLL is extremely thankful for Jeff’s years of dedication to the league and his presence will be greatly missed. The Koenig family was invited onto the field during the Majors/Minors/Softball ceremony. Jeff’s wife Erin gave a speech, and his sons Brady, Lane, and Riggins were introduced to say the Little League Pledge and throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Sheriff Chuck Jenkins recited the volunteer pledge before wishing all players good luck during the upcoming season.
On hand to throw out the first pitch for the T-ball and Instructional Ceremony were the siblings of Kyle Stine, a former TLL player who passed away from terminal brain cancer in December 2022 at age 14. The league also recognized current Minors player, Logan Smith, who is undergoing his own treatments for lymphoma. All TLL players will wear yellow ribbons on the back of their helmets this season in recognition of childhood cancer awareness in honor of both families and all others who have been impacted by this terrible disease. Several Majors players recited the Little League Pledge during this ceremony, while Umpire-in-Chief Blaine Young led the volunteer pledge. Blaine has been a constant fixture behind the plate and on the TLL Board for many years, so he was the perfect person to handle this responsibility.
Finally, members of the Thurmont Cub Scouts took the field to present the colors before the singing of our National Anthem. This year, it was performed by Thurmont Middle School students, Allie Bryant and Alaina Furry, who each honored our country with a beautiful rendition. Both of these young ladies have siblings who have played baseball at TLL for many years, and they were excited to represent their TLL family. To close the ceremony, Robbie thanked everyone for coming and also recognized the many volunteers and board members who made the event so successful.
After the ceremonies ended, families and players stayed around to enjoy delicious food from Stroker’s BBQ (who sold completely out in just a few short hours), along with ice cream and sandwiches from Glamourview Creamery. They definitely brought a smile to many faces with the size of their cups and cones. And, as always, there were other tasty items from the TLL Concession Stand. The brand-new slushy machine was a big hit among the youngsters in the crowd!
Other highlights of the day included a photo booth, complete with fun photo props; meet and greets with Keyote and The Oriole Bird; and a table of goodies from Woodsboro Bank. Facepainting by Elizabeth was back again, with her usual line stretching across the parking lot. And there was also a bounce house, provided by EBL Inflatables, to keep all the youngsters entertained. All in all, it was a wonderful day, with lots of fun for everyone who took part.
Fundraising is always a big part of the opening day ceremony, and this year continued that trend. The community showed up, once again, to support the league, as the basket raffles, concessions, and spiritwear tables generated over $13,000. People were excited to get their TLL t-shirts, hats, and hoodies and to take a chance at one of the 25 wonderful prizes.
The league would like to thank all the local businesses that donated to our baskets; without this support, we could not have generated the interest and raised the money that we did. To view a full list of donors, please check out the Thurmont Little League page on Facebook.
The next big event will be our hit-a-thon on May 6, which is the largest annual fundraiser for the league and helps to raise money for uniforms, field maintenance, and everything else the league needs to make a great experience for its players and fans. We are hoping to proceed with the fireworks display that was canceled on opening day due to the high winds in the evening. There will also be food trucks onsite. Crazy Dave’s Pizza and Snowball Waterfalls are scheduled for the afternoon.
Be sure to check out the next edition for a recap of that event and for all the other happenings from around TLL.
The Oriole Bird and Keyote greet fans during TLL’s Opening Day ceremony.