Story and Slideshow: Play Ball

TAA celebrates baseball and softball Opening Day

he Tabernacle Athletic Association hosted its Opening Day ceremonies Saturday, April 8. All the baseball and softball teams in the association convened on Patty Bowker Park to celebrate the beginning of a new season. Even though it was a brisk Saturday afternoon, the excitement about a new season kept everyone warm.

“It really is the start of spring and the start of the baseball and softball seasons,” said Tabernacle Athletic Association Sports Information Director Peter Damiri. “The sun is shining. The weather is getting warmer, and these kids are out enjoying the fun and the sun and playing ball. The kids get to go out in their brand-new uniforms, and you get to see the smiles on their faces. It is very refreshing to see, and it is a nice community event where everybody gets together.”

As part of TAA’s Opening Day tradition, all of the association’s teams paraded around the diamond with their coaches. Local singer Maria Melchiore sang the national anthem while everyone faced the wind-driven American flag. Members of the TAA also addressed the parents and players, thanking them for their support and gave remarks about the upcoming season. The ceremony concluded with the throwing of the first pitch by both softball and baseball players. One of the baseball players who participated in Opening Day was Nathaniel Haines

“It’s awesome,” said the 12-year-old Nathaniel, a pitcher, catcher and infielder. “I like playing baseball and having fun.”

Another person who took part in Opening Day was 12-year-old softball player Courtney Winters.

“It feels really good to be here,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to be included in, and it’s really good to see everyone here having fun and playing the games.”

Opening Day is not just about the players and managers. Umpires also play a role, especially with games starting immediately after the ceremony. Nick Damiri, a freshman at Rowan College of Burlington County, was an umpire for the first game of the year. Damiri was a participant in the TAA baseball program when he was younger.

“It feels good to give back to the community, especially the hometown where I grew up in and where I learned to play ball, just to show the kids the fundamentals of the game. It’s an honor that I was selected to do this game. The fact that I was hand-picked from a number of umpires to do this game, it really means a lot to me because it is my hometown. I hope that everyone has a fun opening day and everyone has fun.”

While the focus is on the baseball and softball games, this day and the program left an impact on some of the players.

“It definitely made my childhood my childhood,” Winters said. “It shows how far I have come and the goals that I accomplished from when I was little to now, especially looking back on who I was and who I am now. Everyone here, from the coaches to the players, have been a huge help to who I am now, and my life would not be the same without the softball league and the coaches.”

Click the box below to see more photos from Opening Day

TAA Opening Day