Snow clouds parted and the sun warmed the frosty fields to a summer-like 80 degrees on opening day for the Montgomery Baseball League (MBL) (and softball!) on Saturday, April 14, at McKnight Baseball Complex in Belle Mead.
MBL introduced recreation softball this year. Since its inception in 1984, Babe Ruth Softball has grown tremendously throughout the United States and Canada—and is also the fastest growing division in Babe Ruth League.
The parade of teams, lead by Somerset Patriots Mascot Sparky, included dozens of baseball teams, with divisions ranging from age 4 to 18.
The primary emphasis of Babe Ruth Softball is on education, skill development, participation for all levels of ability and of course, having fun, according to MBA president Gautam Kobla of Belle Mead.
Montgomery Mayor Mark Conforti, a baseball enthusiast, threw the first pitch and welcomed the crowd of hundreds of ball players, their parents, and siblings.
“I am thrilled to be here today,” Mayor Conforti said. “I had the pleasure of coaching my son on these fields as well as my daughter on the old softball fields on Broadway. To be honest I’m a baseball fanatic and those memories are very important to me."
“When I coached I gave my players three goals: they would all be better players by the end of the season; that they would learn the importance of teamwork and working together towards a common goal; finally that they would have fun. This is a great game but only if you have fun. Good luck this season and have a great time.”
Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire, also Montgomery resident and former mayor, shared the honor of throwing the first pitch of the game, and spoke to the crowd.
“Montgomery is an amazing place to raise a family,” Caliguire said. “My wife Tricia and I can attest to that. “This baseball program, and this beautiful baseball facility, has a great deal to do with that. I spent hundreds of hours here coaching, raking fields, and being with our children, and I loved every bit of it.
“So kids, play hard, have fun and make friends. Learn to compete. Learn to win. And yes, learn how to lose.
“Parents, I know you might get stretched and worn out running to and from games, working at the snack shop and coaching, raking and just plain sitting on the bleachers. But enjoy and savor this time with your children. I miss it and I know someday you will too.” ■