The sun may not have been shining, but the smiles and laughter of 100 Little Leaguers surely brightened a cloudy day.
Opening day for Thurmont Little League (TLL) kicked off April 6, marking the organization’s 67th year providing kids with an athletic outlet in a supportive, team-oriented environment.
It was a day of fun, excitement, and giving thanks to everyone who makes Thurmont Little League baseball the great organization that it is today.
“We have a lot of people who are helping out to make this run smoothly,” TLL President Jeremy Johnson said. “I want to make sure we give all of our volunteers a round of applause.”
Above all, youth baseball is about teaching the future generation values and skills that they will remember for the rest of their lives. “We all have one goal here, and it’s for these kids to have fun,” said TLL President Jeremy Johnson.
After opening statements, the area’s favorite Little League teams came storming onto the field, marching out with their coaches, managers, and team moms. The Majors were brought out first, sporting the league’s oldest players, followed by the Intermediate Division, the Minors, the Instructionals, and the Tee Ball teams. The day’s honorary MC was Brian Mo, afternoon DJ at 99.9 WFRE, who was responsible for pumping up the crowd for an exciting start to the TLL season.
Mo had each little leaguer recite the Little League pledge, confirming their dedication to playing hard and playing fair throughout the season.
The community support in Thurmont for youth baseball has been remarkable, particularly over the past few years, and that was recognizable multiple times during the Opening Day ceremony.
“This community is amazing,” Mo said. “I’ve lived in many places in my life and my radio career, and I have never seen a community like Thurmont. You guys are amazing; keep doing what you’re doing, and keep being involved with these kids.”
The volunteer support, coaching, and effort put forth by everyone involved with Little League baseball has put Thurmont teams on the map during recent seasons. TLL teams have won multiple state and district championships across all age groups since 2015, largely in part to the attention and time dedicated by the volunteers that make Thurmont Little League possible.
Paul “PJ” Nicholson, stood out among the group, while TLL President Johnson read a few quotes from family and friends who know Nicholson. “PJ believes in playing hard, working harder, giving back to the community, and being a great friend to young and old alike,” Johnson said. “PJ’s love for family goes beyond blood. His extended family is Thurmont Little League.” After the passage of kind words, praising Nicholson’s efforts for TLL, Johnson unveiled the real surprise.
“With that said, our minor league field is no longer called our minor league field. It is now called ‘Nicholson field.’” Nicholson’s response to the love from his closest friends was short and sweet, but there was no shortage of emotion in the crowd.
As the opening ceremony came to a close, there was only one more piece of business to address before the kids were ready to take the field. “The season can’t start without a first pitch, right?” Mo asked, adding, “Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Tony Testa, owner of Rocky’s Pizza and proud supporter of Thurmont Little League.” Testa’s pitch brought about hundreds of screaming little leaguers, and with that, TLL’s 2019 season commenced.
Opening Day not only signifies the beginning of a year of fun and competition for the kids of Northern Maryland, but it also offers fans, parents, and TLL supporters a chance to take a step back and appreciate the great opportunities that organized sports provide their children to learn and grow. The Little League season may have just begun, but the lessons and camaraderie young baseball players experience during their time with TLL will last a lifetime.